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How will we cover Breakpoint and Ruxcon?

A$4030 pledgedThanks to a Pozible crowdfunding campaign that was successful so quickly that I didn’t even have time to promote it properly here, I’m covering the Breakpoint and Ruxcon hacker conferences in Melbourne starting tomorrow. As part of the deal, supporters will help decide how that happens.

If you’re one of my supporters, please read this post and answer the highlighted questions, and make any other comments you want to make. Or not. You are also free to trust my judgement — and I’ll be explaining my decisions as I go along.

If you’re not, well, this is an explanation of what you can expect. You can make suggestions too, but I will weigh them less in my considerations.

The funding model is detailed below, but the short version is that we’ve got roughly $2000 in the production pool, and that can be allocated to, say, four podcasts at $500 each, or four 1000-word articles at $500 each, or eight 500-word articles, or a mix thereof.

Question 1: Do you prefer written stories or podcasts?

There has to be at least one podcast, because AVG Technologies AU has to get the one-podcast sponsorship they’ve paid for. And I like making podcasts.

I’ll try to get into as many of the conference sessions as I can. Here are the programs for Breakpoint and Ruxcon. I can tweet and Instagram those as we go along, summarising the key points, but the more attention I pay to providing live coverage, the less attention I can pay to keeping good notes — which means more lag time before any written stories appear.

Now I happen to think that rushing out daily news cycle stories is not the best use of my time. I know that I write much better material when I have time to absorb it, reflect, make connections and write. But you may not prefer to wait. It’s up to you.

Question 2: What is your preferred balance in terms of live coverage versus quick stories on the day versus more reflective stories the following week?

Question 3: Do you prefer fewer, longer stories or more, shorter stories?

If I write same-day, then the articles are likely to be straight reportage of what the speaker said, like Russian crims evade transaction profiling from AusCERT 2012.

If I think about it a bit more, I can weave material from a series of presentations into a narrative, such as Black hats and whitegoods from AusCERT 2011.

Or maybe you can’t tell the difference. So here’s a list of all my recent written pieces. Tell me if anything triggers you wanting to say “More like that one please!”

Question 4: Are there any must-haves?

Does anything in the program stand out for you? Are there any themes that you’d be interested in exploring?

Is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask?

Stream 1 Commitments

Stream 1 will be stories that I’ve pitched to my editors in the usual way, or that they’ve commissioned. They get to decide what the stories are about, they’ll pay their usual rates, and they’ll get to use the stories in the usual way.

I’m definitely writing a 1000-word piece for CSO Online on Monday 28 October. I will be pitching stories to other outlets as the conferences unfold. If I have time.

Stream 2 Funding Model

Stream 2 is the stories you’ve funded. For every $500 raised beyond the initial $1800 target, and we’ve got around $2000 for that, I’ll produce one “media object” — either a 30-minute podcast, or a written article of 1000+ words. I’ll work with you, the supporters, to decide what they’ll be about, through some sort of consensus process that we’ll figure out later.

(There’s bound to be a sub-$500 fraction left over at the end too, and perhaps savings from the $1800 target, so that’ll be turned into stories pro-rata. I’ll also split 1000-word blocks into two 500-word blocks if that’s what you’d prefer.)

All Stream 2 items will be published here at Corrupted Nerds website, and made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license (CC BY-ND). That means anyone will be able to republish them free of charge — provided they run them unmodified and give credit.

The Conversation works much like this. Think of it as a news wire service that doesn’t charge — but at the same time doesn’t give exclusivity.

In mid-November, I will create an ebook containing all of the final media items produced — the blog posts plus the Stream 1 and Stream 2 items — as a reward for supporters and for subsequent sale.

I will also create a bonus ebook containing extra material such as photos, out-takes and various production documents — as a reward for the extra special supporters. Each one will include in individual, personal dedication.

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14 Responses to How will we cover Breakpoint and Ruxcon?

  1. I prefer the longer, more contemplative work. There are likely to be plenty of other people doing straight reportage, and it’s easier to do because it doesn’t need a lot of thought. I’d rather get your unique perspective on things because I like what you have to say, and how you draw together different bits and pieces to create something different and thought provoking.

    I’d like a mix of podcasts and written stuff. They each have their benefits, and I enjoy both for different reasons.

    But really, I leave it to your best judgement. You know how to do this stuff much better than I, so I’ll just get out of your way.

  2. Shane says:

    I’d like to echo Justin’s comments. I prefer your considered views rather than same-day he-said-she-said.

    I have a bias towards written content, but since I’ve always enjoyed your podcasts so I’d be perfectly happy with a mix.

    Whatever works best given the narrative of the piece I guess.

  3. Written content appeals the most.
    Not attuned to podcasts.

    Ruxcon draws an unusual (black / white / grey)-hat speaker profile out of their (Tibetan/Thai/Peruvian) hiding holes. One or two personal stories of the unusual lifestyle would be good to hear.

  4. Stilgherrian says:

    @Phillip Stevens: I wouldn’t have thought of doing anything on the more personal stories, except perhaps as a snippet in, say, a podcast conversation with a specific person — probably because I know that editors in the tech media wouldn’t pay a freelancer for such a thing these days. Different ideas will make this interesting.

  5. @Gin_ev_ra says:

    Agree! Don’t worry about same-day stuff, give those to other places.

    If a piece would benefit from getting quite technical, I’d still be interested.

    I listen to your podcasts more often than I read your stories. I really enjoy the humour in your tweets.

    If I went to the conference myself, I’d avoid the oh, wow, we can hack a TV, or a car, or a bus, unless they give extra insights. I know it’s possible.

    If you do a chat with organsiers or a what-goes-on-at-events-like-this piece, the lack of female speakers is ahh, noticeable.

  6. BernieTB says:

    I, too, am going to echo what Justin said at the top.

    I’ve been enjoyed the Corrupted Nerds Conversations quite a bit, and think that the podcast works really well for stuff like that, whereas being able to tie all the threads from the event together, and put it all in a wider context, works better in written form.

    Other than that, I’m happy to trust your judgement. Look forward to seeing what comes out of the weekend.

  7. Ross says:

    These people are reading my mind.

    I prefer the more nuanced conversations you have rather than a list of quotes from the sessions, and a mix of mediums is nice too. When you capture interviews with interesting people, I don’t think you can beat a podcast – but for reporting on things that aren’t so people-focused, the written word is great.

    As others have said, your judgement here should be followed. After all, you’re the one that’s made a career out of this stuff, not us. (not me, anyway)

  8. @pblakez says:

    I would say mix it up subjects some subjects suit longer form which I like but do not always have the time for

    I really like the conversational podcasts as I can listen and work. you also get a better feel for the subjects ideas and tone

  9. Pingback: Stilgherrian · Visiting Melbourne for Breakpoint and Ruxcon

  10. Col Thompson says:

    Agree with Justin. I prefer a more considered long form written approach, as well as twitter instant reaction.
    However, I follow and fund because I appreciate the way you communicate over various platforms. Your choice!

  11. I like the idea of more analytical stories.

    I prefer audio to written pieces. I really don’t have a option about longer stories or shorter ones, so I would say let the topic define that, if something needs half an hour of audio do that. Otherwise a couple of snappy 15 minute reports work well too.

    As far as topics go, I would love to see something about medical data security, if there is a story in that.

  12. deejbah says:

    I don’t have a preference for written vs. audio – I listen or read at different times of my day, depending on workflow or other activities. I would prefer more analytical pieces but as others say, I would happily defer to your judgement on that.

  13. Stilgherrian says:

    Thanks for all of these comments and observations. The consensus I’m taking away from this are that I should do a mix of podcasts and articles, that you don’t want me to rush them, that you’d like them to have more depth (which means they’re longer), and that you’re prefer me not to rush them.

    Since there are two conferences, the sensible plan from here would seem to be to do two podcasts and two articles, one of each for each conference.

    And since there is no rush, I’ll schedule the time to do them once the conferences are over and I can so so in an unhurried manner.

    If there are any objections to this plan, now would be the time to raise them.

  14. Col Thompson says:

    Great plan!
    Perhaps a short ‘compare & contrast’ after the two conferences would be interesting?