Every year I try to make it to one professional conference or meeting, just to prove to myself that I'm not living in a cave. My outing for this year was to be the On Demand Conference and Exposition in Boston, which started this morning. I'd intended to catch them in Philly last year, but the schedule clashed with something and I went to WebmasterWorld instead. I've been looking forward to the On Demand Expo for weeks, got my camera all ready, polished up my press credentials, and even picked some interesting sessions out of the conference catalog.
Unfortunately, no well intended act goes unpunished. I spent an hour Friday evening cleaning up a woodsy area by the house I'm renting, and by Sunday evening I was coming out with poison ivy (or oak) all over the place. I'm stoic enough about most things not to have visited a doctor since the early 90's, but I made an exception this morning in hopes they had some miracle cure that would fix me up for tomorrow or Thursday. I can still see OK since my eyes haven't swollen shut, but it's not looking good.
The two primary conference tracks for the show are Print on Demand Technology and Print Service Provider. In terms of technology, I was hoping to see some of the new high volume color inkjets, to find out if they'll ever be competitive with color lasers or the HP Indigo approach. I'm also interested in seeing what the industry now terms "light production devices" to see if they're suitable for the stay-at-home book printer. Questions about which equipment to buy for printing at home still come across my screen on a regular basis, and even though I use Lightning Source to do all my printing, I like keeping up with the options.
At the top of the Print Service Provider category they are featuring opportunities for photo books. I see a lot of new companies getting into this field, mainly to serve individuals with upscale ambitions for their personal photo albums, but I'd like to know what the more innovative printers are offering. Since On Demand is primarily a corporate show, there's also plenty of crunchy big business topics that it's fun to keep an eye on.
There are something like 150 vendors scheduled for the expo hall, primarily equipment suppliers and paper products companies. On Demand is co-located with the AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) conference this year, which is a pretty good match-up. It seems to me I went to a PC Expo in NYC some years back that was co-located with AIIM, and that pairing didn't make much sense to me. My old business partner was active with AIIM for years and he worked with some of the original Xerox technology, so you know he's not my young business partner.
So, I'm sitting at home itching to go to Boston, but knowing I'm not going anywhere until the itching calms down a little. In the meantime, if anybody who knew I was going to the show planned on showing up just to take a swipe at me, my suggestion is to pick on some six foot four guy with a name tag that says "Billy Bob" because that could be me traveling incognito.