April 20th, 2003 8:20 AM

I’m finishing KSR’s The Years of Rice and Salt tonight, and in the second to last chapter, Nsara, is a recurrent theme in his books: the peak of a scientific or intellectual class exemplified by the lifestyle of an academic conference. Every time this shows up in his books I love it, and in recent years enjoy seeing hints of this in the conferences and gatherings that I attend. More recently, however, I’ve come to hope that I may find more of this sort of thing than the painfully expensive, readily known conferences whose attendance was enabled by the 90s. The Perl Conference and later the Open Source Convention were great fun, but very few can afford thousands of dollars to attend (not counting travel and living expenses). Defcon is a welcome relief price-wise, but seems to be attracting a low signal-to-noise ratio these days. In this regard, here is a short list of events (necessarily tech-heavy) that I find interesting or worthwhile enough to make note of for possible attendance in the next year:

The difference between these and the KSR-esque conferences are a matter of scope. I don’t know of conferences that cater to scientific of intellectual classes as a whole (whether this is possible or not may be a valid line of inquiry).

I would be very interested in lists of other (hopefully cheap) events of this nature, not necessarily tech-related (philosophy events would be a most welcome surprise).

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