The DEFCON 26 Experience Day 0 Registration

The CON is what you make of it.

I arrived in Las Vegas at my first DEFCON the night before registration.  We finally got to bed around 1:30 in the morning.

DEFCON Registration
The main part of the conference starts on Friday.  Workshops start on Thursday. Registration starts Thursday morning at Caesers. Most of the activities start on Friday.

I got in line Thursday at 5:30 AM along with several thousand of my closest friends.  Some folks spent the night in order to make sure they got the electronic badges.  Another few thousand joined the line behind me. You basically show up at Caesars with $280 in registration cash for plus whatever cash you need to purchase shirts and other SWAG.  I'd recommend having access to other cash in case you run into other swag you want from the villages or vendor area. Registration opened at 6:00 AM.  They register approximately 20,000 people on Thursday.

Registration is a cash only, no receipt, day-of type of operation.  You get in line at Caesars, talk with strangers and eventually make it to the front.  There is just enough GOON help to manage the line. Registration clerks ask you "how many registrations do you need?"  You tell them and hand over your cash.  They hand you that number of registration packet which include the all powerful , hackable, event badge.  No one takes your name, credit card or provides you with a receipt.  It is a very fast process with none of the normal conference identity/ticket paranoia.

Conference clothing and items are available in the SWAG store.  A lot of attendees jumped into the SWAG line immediately after registration. They had 44 different items that could be purchased cash only. That was also a high volume very efficient process.

I was done with registration and swag purchase by 7:40. Apparently int varies year by year.

DEFCON Line Experience
Some folks were pretty friendly and some weren't.  It felt like there was more enthusiasm for this conference than many I have been to.  Some folks wore badges from previous years or custom badges from some maker/hacker group.

The Villages Make DEFCON Different
The villages are probably the biggest DEFCON advantage.  This year's conference has over 20 villages. I hope to spend a lot of time in the villages.

Demographics
The conference program includes "women in tech" and LGBT friendly tracks.  There were several tracks on the struggles of women in a traditionally male specialty. Conference attendees are probably 25-1 male to female. This was an even more skewed ratio than the typical conferences I've attended.  I'd guess it is because this is because a lot of women in tech are in less aggressively technical areas.  Technology tends to aggregate a lot of roles into "technical employees" when generating gender based demographic statistics.  I'm open to other explanations.

DEFCON has a code of conduct and it seemed to be a good group. The opening talk went to great lengths asking that people report anything they see or hear. They pointed out they couldn't fix things they don't know about.

The conference tracks show how serious the conference takes these issues. And yet, someone still made a disparaging comment about the female attendees while in line after someone mentioned the attendee ratio.  No one else commented and the conversation died. It was a disappointing metric of progress on inclusion.





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