The Last Day of a Tech Conference

Have you ever stayed until the end of a conference, and walked down the halls of the conference center during the last day of an event?

Have you ever felt that eerie sensation of the last afternoon, when most attendees and exhibitors have already left? When security guards don’t even check badges anymore and are just wandering in front of their assigned rooms? Have you seen those empty food stands and lunch tables? Have you seen those people feverishly working on their laptops on a couch at the far end of a huge empty hallway?

I’ve seen this in two particular places: at the Red Hat Summit in Boston last May, or at the four WWDC I have attended in San Francisco in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. The bigger the conference center, the more striking the effect.

The few people remaining are maybe attending some workshops scheduled for the last day, scattered across the vast halls of the venue. This sensation is particularly daunting in those huge US conference centers, capable of holding events for thousands of people at once.

Most of the stands on the exhibition hallways are emptied on the evening of the last official day of the event, but some crews are still working on the remaining ones, usually the biggest of them all, requiring cranes and a few more people than usual to wind the logos down to the floor.

The few remaining people are scattered, particularly after the last lunch (if any) is over. Some are working on their laptops, some are waiting for a cab, and some are meeting someone else in extremis, right before taking off.

And then a cab or a limo takes you away, too.