Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Put away the pitchforks…

It looks like all is well, or at least functional.  The folks at the RSA Conference are issuing waivers for RSA sponsors and exhibitors to participate in BSides San Francisco.  I’ve swapped messages with one of our friends at RSA- I do not know how things got as tense as they did as quickly as they did, but it seems that it has been resolved almost as quickly.


Let’s be honest, there will be tension in situations like this- the events are adjacent, occur on overlapping days, and people cannot be two places at once.  The RSA Conference is an enormous undertaking and the people who put it on are protective of their enterprise- and those of us in the BSides community are even more protective of our community.  BSiders are all volunteers, busy with jobs, modern life, and the challenges of running events on tight budgets- the folks at RSA are in their crunch time: thousands of attendees, hundreds of exhibitor companies, hundreds of speakers, and many others are bearing down on them, the pressures must be significant.  In light of that, it is easy to see how what should be a constructive conversation could end up being, well, not constructive.  But that is behind us.  (If you are reading this, you’ve seen the BSides perspective, here is RSA’s post on this)

There will be frustrations with each other again, but hopefully we can minimize those- I still see more mutual benefits than challenges, but the critical thing for now is that BSidesSF will happen as planned, and the sponsors of that event will not be placed in an uncomfortable position.  BSides organizers have worked, or at least communicated, with almost every “A-Side” event in recent times.  The relationships generally range from outstanding to at least understanding, and that is our goal.  (Note: There is one parallel event where things really are competitive… but I can’t even think about it now.  Some day I will have to send a peace dove over to them and see if they return it, or cook and eat it; that day is not today).

I’ve learned a little more about event management and conflict resolution this week.  In retrospect I should have picked up the phone and made a call or two to try to sort things out directly.

I do want to thank all of the sponsors of BSides San Francisco for working through this, and thank those who stepped in with sponsorship when things looked questionable.  Among those, Lee Kushner of InfoSec Leaders deserves special thanks for his significant moral and financial support of Security BSides San Francisco.

I am looking forward to both RSA and BSides later this month.  I’ll be speaking at RSA for the first time this year, and I am also leading a peer to peer session for the first time (more on that in another post).

For those who are surprised at my conciliatory tone, and disappointed by my lack of vitriol, I apologize- I just don’t see any value in dwelling on past frustrations in this case.

Thank you to everyone who showed their support for BSides, the event and the community.