[Dailydave] Paid-for Vendor talk .... seems legit?

Michal Zalewski lcamtuf at coredump.cx
Thu Mar 22 21:48:11 EDT 2012

Researchers have no intrinsic, "noble" reason to present their
findings at a conference. They withhold interesting findings for
months, and travel to a distant location, to do a slideshow in front
of several hundred people. Hoping to capitalize on the profile of the
event, and the PR attention that comes with it, is a huge part of the
incentive. Events such as Pwn2own are the pinnacle of this trend.

Organizers... well, they often start for noble reasons, but are
subject to perverse incentives: conferences don't get successful and
profitable unless you allow the merits of the content to take a back
seat. You need to seek presenters who are known to the journalists,
and offer them high five-figure compensation for even the most trivial
talks and keynotes.

Vendors treat the conferences as trade shows (fair enough), or more
insidiously, hope to befriend researchers and strategically score
brownie points in ways that have no objective merits. They throw
lavish "invitation-onlly" vendor parties (complete with escorts /
strippers), or have entire teams seemingly dedicated to just shaking
hands, taking photos with researchers, and blogging about how much
they like responsible disclosure.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, but I also think there's
no point in getting too worked up about paid keynotes. There are more
troubling trends.


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