Web Directions “North” (Time for a Canadian Solution?)

As a previous attendee of Web Directions North, I received an e-mail today about what’s happening in that conference series:

Over the last year or so, we’ve been looking for a location that will be home to the sort of event we really want Web Directions to be – an event that brings together folks from all over North America, and indeed the world, and showcases the latest technologies and techniques, the latest know-how.

We’ve been looking for a city that’s easily accessible from just about anywhere in North America. A city that doesn’t necessarily get the attention, and events, that some other cities get. A city with a thriving, exciting web scene, and a city that’s got a lot on offer over and above our event.

In Atlanta, we really believe we’ve found that city. Midtown Atlanta, where the event is held, is a thriving, diverse community, of restaurants, cafes, nightlife, and more, and home to Georgia Tech, one of the world’s leading technology focussed schools. Loews Hotel, the venue for the conference is brand spanking new, only opening in April this year. And with the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta is a direct, affordable flight from almost anywhere in North America (and beyond).

To capture the essence of this new home, Web Directions North is now Web Directions USA.

When Web Directions North (WDN) was first announced, it was a major thing.  Prior to WDN, there were no general web conferences in Western Canada.  There are WordCamps, and Drupal-specific things — but nothing that focuses on the basics, and remains platform agnostic.  It’s been a while since I looked at it, but there were a few tech conferences in Eastern Canada, and definitely a ton of stuff going on in the eastern US.  There’s SWSWi in Texas, and the odd thing or two down in California.

There’s An Event Apart in Seattle now (I don’t *think* it existed then), which is probably as close as we’re going to get to a Northwestern conference.

So what?

Why does it matter where a conference takes place?  Who cares if it’s in Vancouver, Denver (as it was last year), or Atlanta, Georgia?  The speaker lineup is what matters, right?

Ultimately, it doesn’t.  If budget is a concern, look for conferences closer to home.  The thing that made Web Directions special, though, was that it was in the Pacific Northwest.  The fact that it was north of the border was nice too, it’s nice to not have to deal with the random security measures at the US border.  Even Americans visiting Canada have an easier time of it than anyone having to cross into the US.

There is a huge tech community north of California.  Portland, Seattle, the Microsoft stronghold and Vancouver are a hotbed of tech/web.  Why would you leave that?  I was disappointed when they moved to Denver because we lost the Canadian “magic”.  I thought it was probably the hassles of the Olympics that drove WDN out of Vancouver in 2009.  I guess I was wrong.  I briefly lamented the additional travel costs, but would have made it work for the right speaker lineup.

Maybe it’s time…

A year or two before Web Directions North was announced, there was some conversation amongst Canadian designers and developers about growing our own web conference.  Maybe the time has come for that again.

Let’s get a little show of hands if there’s any interest in bringing the tech back to Vancouver (or an alternate city?)