I was fortunate enough to have the honor of interviewing Brady Forest today. I thought I’d ask him some questions that would be relevant to the hackers / MAKE folks / tinkerers in the crowd. I’m pleased to say that from what I’ve been told there’s a fair possibility that if you’ve done soldering before and have any interest in doing live tinkering at a conference, Etech should show up on your radar.
Aten: How much of your life does Etech consume?
Brady: it consumes… I start working 10 months in advance. In some ways 14 months in advance. 10 months is the theme for the following year, its my first conference of the year, so it gets my attention. I’d like to have as many worthwhile things as possible crammed into into that time – the conference is only four days. Every facet of the conference has to be interesting. There is tech/art in the halls, events in the evenings. Its broad.
Aten: What is your background?
Brady: I have an engineering degree, worked in management, integrations – then did a friends music startup kind of like pandora which was then bought by bought by MS, done some music, worked at a google news competitor, then ended up in search as a project manager. Did evangelism/blogging sort of half product, half watching the outside world. I talked to O’Reilly and after some negotiations I ended up coming aboard.
Aten: Have you seen etech grow or shrink in the last 5 years?
Brady: Etech went up and down. This year is a down year because of the economy. We’re doing well but its a down year. When I was there in 2005 as a softie it was doing well, back in the beginning of web2.0. All the web people were coming to the con, but now that Web 2.0 can’t be considered ’emerging technology’ anymore we’re seeing less of that crowd.
Aten: Why the move to San Jose?
Brady: Its all about venue. Moscone stomped our San Diego dates. The secret to a good conference is all about the venue. Unfortunately this year we had to end up moving our dates around due to conflicts with other conferences and we ended up in San Jose.
Aten: What sort of telemetry do you hope to gain by RFID’ing everyone up at this Etech?
Brady: I just want to see how people interact with the technology. I think that RFID .. people being able to play with it will expose them to a bit of new technology, and add a bit of joy to interacting with other people. We have this one project called pulse that’s going to be placed around Etech and people can walk up and swipe and we can get a heat map of activity around the conf, similiar people to you will get a path.. I think that will work out well.
Aten: Are you takine a cue from defcon in providing badge material that is hackable?
Brady: You can write to the tags – but these arent actually how you’ll get admittance to the conf. This is paralell to the conf badge. This is the firs ttime we’re doing it – let see what happens!
Aten: Do the prevailing winds bring the scent of more hacking?
Brady: We’re adding a room for hacking. MAKE is going to be there with tables and soldering irons, So people can do on-site … anything they want. They’ll be RFID readers for purchase, so people can build projects there!
If you do a little sleuthing, there are tons of discount codes available to get discounts on attendance for ETech! This will be my third ETech and I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Come find me, I’ll buy you a beer!