Ruby Weekly is a weekly newsletter covering the latest Ruby and Rails news.

Scaling Ruby – The Informative, 40 Minute Screencast

By Peter Cooper / November 17, 2008

ruby18cast.pngEarlier this month, Rails Envy's Gregg Pollack gave a talk at RubyConf08 called Scaling Ruby (without the Rails). He answered questions like "How do existing Ruby applications use Threads/Processes to scale?", "How do we implement an Event Driven application using Ruby EventMachine?", "What are the current bottlenecks with speeding up Ruby and how can they be fixed?", and "What does Ruby 1.9 bring to the table to speed things up?" From what I hear, it was a very well received and informative session.

Not all of us could be at RubyConf08, however, so Gregg has taken the whole Ruby scalability topic and put together a solid 40 minute screencast called Scaling Ruby (note: it is NOT a recording of the talk - but a separate, professional production). It costs $9 (cheaper than RubyConf, of course) but it's a very solid primer on Ruby scaling issues. Almost every topic is illustrated through Gregg's unique diagrams, and he goes into depth on topics as diverse as event-based applications, threads, Rinda, process messaging, and even "dropping in to C" to write high performance sections of code.

I've been very impressed with the quality of the EnvyCasts I've seen so far, and this is no exception. Lots of practical knowledge delivered in a memorable way. $9 will still seem too rich to many - especially those who think all forms of documentation and instruction should be free (as in speech and beer) - but if it takes Gregg and Jason's fine commercial attempts to encourage others to produce higher quality, free documentation, I'm all for it! They also have screencasts covering Rails 2.2 (see the Rails Inside review) and ActiveRecord.

(Disclaimer: I've received free, promotional copies of the EnvyCasts for review. I have no other relationship - financial or otherwise - with the Rails Envy guys, other than being one of the first to promote them back in the day - doesn't time fly!)


  1. Bryan Helmkamp says:

    This material looks really interesting.

    It's too bad Gregg has chosen to be, I think, the only RubyConf speaker not to have their talk video published online for free, however.

  2. Gregg Pollack says:

    Peter: Thank you so much for the

    Bryan: Just to ensure everyone knows the reason why this is, I thought I'd post here.

    I'm really trying to get to the point where I can afford to produce educational cheap $9 screencasts as part of my career. I would not be able to produce these for free without a corporate sponsor, someone paying me to produce them, or charging $9 a pop (which is cheap). At this point I'm honestly not making enough money to legitimize the time I'm spending on them, but I hope that will change in the future as more people learn about the screencasts.

    The talk I gave at Rubyconf WAS the same material I used for the screencast that I spent about 2 1/2 weeks researching and putting together. I doubt anyone would buy the envycast video if there was a free video with the same content. The EnvyCast is a higher quality video anyways. A video that could easily be downloaded to an iphone and watched at anytime.

    I do think it's great that confreaks provides free videos, and yeah.. it does feel a little awkward not being able to provide the video up there for free. I'm probably losing some free publicity because of it, but I also need to feed my kids.

    This is where someone responds telling me that I'm not following the Free Open Source Software spirit by releasing educational content for free. Before you do, please take a moment to think about if you've ever spent money on a Ruby / Rails book, PDF, or a Peepcode. You know, people selling educational content.

    If you're still angry, then perhaps consider creating some free educational content yourself, send me an email, and I'll cover it on the Rails Envy Podcast to get the word out. ;-)

    Sorry for the novel, I guess I'm a little sensitive about the issue.

  3. Sho says:

    Agreed with above comment. This kind of money grubbing is not the Ruby spirit I know and love. I have no problem with people charging for private seminars and materials - but trying to charge for a talk you gave at RubyConf? That's supposed to be a meeting of the minds, not a corporate training camp.

    Hopefully next year RubyConf will make it a condition of speaking that the presentation in its entirity be released under a permissive license. If you can't speak at RubyConf without needing to "monetize" your speech, then please, just don't go.

  4. Peter Cooper says:

    I've updated the post to clarify that this screencast is *not* a recording of Gregg's talk. It's just on the same topic.

  5. Gregg Pollack says:

    heh.. stopped in mid thought.

    Peter: Thanks so much for the review, glad you liked it. Up next will be "Scaling Rails"... Unlike what Jason constantly says on the podcast.. it can scale.

  6. Peter Cooper says:

    FWIW, even if someone had recorded his talk, there's no way the audio quality would match this one - no background sounds, the diagrams would be far less clear (no video overlay, etc).. there's no end of reasons why even a freely available video of Gregg's talk wouldn't be a patch on this one - and I'm saying this just as a viewer.

  7. Sho says:

    I meant I agree with the first comment, not the predictable comeback from Mr Capitalism himself.

    Yeah Pollack, you need to feed your family. So does everyone else. I bet you watched everyone's presentations, for free, for previous RubyConfs before you were (mistakenly) invited to speak at this one.

    How does it feel knowing that if everyone in the world was like you, Ruby wouldn't even exist?

  8. Peter Cooper says:

    Gregg: I expect you to be wearing an "<-- I'm With Stupid" shirt or similar when you get Jason to admit that Rails /can/ scale ;-)

  9. Peter Cooper says:

    Sho: Your ad-hominem attacks and appeals to motive are logically fallacious.

    You've even linked to Gregg's free stuff before. Why choose this moment to attack him? He and Jason have put out hours of free podcasts, some great tutorials, some great videos, and lots of other material into the Ruby/Rails communities. They are probably two of the best known evangelists.

    If he wants to charge for something and you don't want to pay, don't pay. If you think his charging for something is ethically wrong, have your say (as you did earlier) but don't go on to judge his character, political views, or motives without solid proof. Your first comment here was a very fair comment, but your second was mean spirited.

  10. Sho says:

    Peter: Ad hominem attacks? Strawman arguments? I said nothing of the sort.

    I have no problem whatsoever with anyone charging for whatever they want. I just have a problem with trying to charge access for a presentation from RubyConf, which is supposed to be the official yearly meeting for a community founded on sharing. What if everyone did this?

    Of course I have bought books and even screencasts myself. If Pollack thought he could add enough value to his talk by professionally producing it and selling it separately, I would have no problem with that whatsoever, and might have even bought it. It's the act of blocking access to talks at RubyConf that I find so despicable. Everything that happens there should be free for the community, like it always has been.

    I'm disgusted, and I said so, and I'll bow out now.

  11. Peter Cooper says:

    An ad hominem appeal is "replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim" - e.g. "Mr Capitalism" and "How does it feel knowing that if everyone in the world was like you, Ruby wouldn't even exist?" and "before you were (mistakenly) invited"

    It's the act of blocking access to talks at RubyConf that I find so despicable. Everything that happens there should be free for the community, like it always has been.

    There's no problem with holding and expressing that view. If you want this to be a policy, I think you should express it to those who run RubyConf.

  12. David Whittington says:

    Gregg: I think what you did was fine ethically, but probably a bad PR move. I won't hold it against you though. As long as you guys keep the content quality high I'll keep buying the screencasts and listening to the podcast.

  13. Gregg Pollack says:

    It probably should be stressed (as Peter noted) that the Envycast I produced on the same topic is of HIGHER QUALITY CONTENT then what was recorded at Rubyconf. It was not filmed at Rubyconf.

    Not to dis the ConFreaks guys, I love em and they do a wonderful job, but if you take a look at the preview on I hope you'll see that the video produced is extremely polished.

    David: Thanks for the comment

  14. paulc says:

    There is no way I will pay for this. and why is the rubyconf talk not available online?

  15. Gregg Pollack says:

    paulc: None of the talks from Rubyconf are available online yet. Hopefully early next week.

    My Rubytalk won't be listed in there because I opted not to have my talk recorded since I used some of the same material in this Envycast. This sort of thing isn't unheard of at conferences. Often speakers/teachers will use their course/seminar material. They don't want this to get released to the public, for obvious reasons.

    Some people don't think this follows the "Free Open Source Software spirit". It's certainly one perspective to have, but I would hope people could have the same perspective about my content, as they do Books. Instead of writing blog posts, sometimes people write books for profit. Instead of creating free content (Railscasts), sometimes people create paid content (Peepcode).

  16. John Labovitz says:

    I'll happily pay a nominal fee for a well-produced, informative view of a complex topic. I've grown tired of the poorly written, incomplete, and unmaintained documentation that is unfortunately a large part of the Ruby (and worse, Rails) world. It doesn't much matter to me whether it was based on the same presentation at RubyConf, or vice versa; Gregg's Envycast is clearly a different production.

    And anyway, come on -- it's only nine bucks, cheaper than most computer books.

  17. Peter says:

    Sho, paulc: How much free tutorials, podcasts, screencasts, e-books did *you* produce? You are arguing that the Rubyconf would have been better without Gregg's presentation? You can't afford $9 for an informative and educational video? Do you think the video is worth less because it has been presented @ Rubyconf? Are you out of your mind?

    If your answers interpolates the set ["not much", "yes", "no", "yes", "yes"] then you should maybe doing something else than commenting here.

  18. Chris says:

    I don't have a problem with Gregg's EnvyCasts - in fact, I think it's a great welcome to the growing collection of half-assed tutorials out there.

    However, I worry about commercializing the conference talks. I attended Gregg's talk at RubyConf and it was EXCELLENT (one of the best I saw), so I don't think it applies this time. But I am a little concerned that this becomes a trend and future conference sessions become advertisements for paid content.

  19. Alan Brown says:

    You shouldn't have to apologize for charging for your time. I suspect everyone criticizing it also charges for their time as well.

    Plenty of people give stuff away for free because they see it in their interests to do, not necessarily because they are full of love and kindness (although many are :-)

    As for me, if you tell me you thought of giving it away for free, but then realized you wanted to buy a new car instead, I say good for you!

  20. Eddie May says:

    I'm with John on this one. I've bought (too) many Java, PHP, Rails books, etc & don't see their authors as acting against the spirit of open source. Nor do I think there's a real difference between paying to attend a conference and paying to view a podcast based upon a talk given at that conference. Indeed, I'll get more value from the podcast that I can study repeatedly than actually attending the event and taking notes.

  21. Peter Cooper says:

    It's quite common (if not the norm) that people speak at conferences in order to promote their other services (consultancy, books, etc) directly or otherwise. Indeed, I believe some reasonably high profile "speakers" dropped out of attending Euruko just because they couldn't find out if they could "definitely" talk in time.. why would they do that if they were just interested in coming and sharing knowledge? The motivations for people to speak at conferences are many and varied, but nearly all involve self promotion or money-making of some kind.

  22. Radarek says:

    Hey, where is my comment?

  23. Radarek says:

    One step closer to commercialise Ruby? There is nothing wrong with producing some commercial videos (envy podcasts) and sell it (like peepcodes has been doing). But there is something bad (as I feel) when you don't give permission to your *public* lecture.
    Gregg, you aren't only person that spend big amount of time to prepare your talk. Think about what will happen when all people would do the same. I think that all people who give a talk are aware of that they do it for free. If you didn't want to public your talk from RubyConf (because of commercial video you sell) you shouldn't do give the talk. That's my opinion.

  24. Radarek says:

    I don't get it, short comment appears immediately, long comment isn't displayed at all.

  25. Peter Cooper says:

    WordPress marked your comment as spam for some reason, Radarek. I've now corrected it :)

  26. Peter Cooper says:

    But there is something bad (as I feel) when you don't give permission to your *public* lecture.

    RubyConf is not exactly public. I don't know how much it cost this year, but it was $250 in 2007. What Gregg has done is clearly not against RubyConf's rules, otherwise they'd release a video of his talk anyway - so perhaps they are the best people to petition if you want a rule change.

    It's also worth noting that Gregg not only had to prepare his talk, but the video he is selling was entirely extra. He might have had the notes he used at RubyConf, but the video is not a video of the RubyConf talk - it's an all new production with all new expenses involved.

  27. Radarek says:

    Peter, have speakers been paid for talks? AFAIK they haven't. All money goes to cover costs of conference (such a food, rent a rooms etc). As I said before I don't complain about Gregg's commercial videos. It's ok. But imagine that all people that have a talk would do the same. Most people will agree that they could prepare some commercial materials (pdf, screencast) from their presentations. But they don't and all Ruby community appreciate it (at least I do). So why Gregg should be special in this case? In my opinion he can't separate things for fun and for money. All Ruby's conferences is for fun (tell me that I'm wrong).

  28. Jonathan Conway says:

    I would like it known that I speak at conferences for neither money or self promotion but instead a narcistic love of my own voice;).

  29. Peter Cooper says:

    Peter, have speakers been paid for talks? AFAIK they haven't.

    Is that relevant? If speakers had been paid and then not shared videos, wouldn't that be worse?

    RubyConf is still not "public." It costs ~$250 to get in and there are no guarantees of the content and activities that take place being made publicly available. We should be grateful for that content that is shared from a private, commercial conference - rather than ungrateful for those elements that aren't.

  30. Jonathan Conway says:

    Seriously though if people are so bent against paying a measly $9 then they should just go and research the material themselves after all the information is all freely available just not collected together in one place and nicely presented.

    I'd rather pay $9 for some well presented *and* up to date documentation/screencast than being ripped off buying a hard copy of a book from a certain technical book publisher with vague explanations and out of date examples because of the associated schedules involved.

  31. Bruno Miranda says:

    In my opinion not allowing the talk to be recorded was a bad PR move. Confreaks video/sound would have given the general public that did not attend a taste of the talk, which would have probably enticed them to buy the envycast.

    I think you should most definitely charge for the extremely well produced envycast. Did peepcode stopped charging for screencasts, what about pragmatic studios? Do book publishers give out ruby books?

    Again I would have allowed confreaks to record the talk as it would have promoted the full length/quality cast tremendously. IMHO Gregg's talk was the best of the entire conference.

  32. ab5tract says:

    This is a hard topic that will probably divide the community forever. Personally I have to agree that the partitioning off of a taped talk as "off limits due to attempted capitalization" is setting a bad precedent. While Rubyconf itself is not free, the videos of lectures traditionally have been. Bucking tradition will get you looks, some of anger and some of admiration and some of... envy. As history proves over and over again, bucking tradition is not necessarily bad, and is indeed often necessary for anything good to happen. That said, I believe the whole community is worse off if more people do this last year. Instead of a sense of sharing we will have a sense of everyone for themselves, as it often looks from the outside when you block off access to a previously free service in favor of making a buck for your personal bank account.

    I think David had a good point that I agree with: it is a potentially horrible PR move. A more successful approach would have been to make the Envycast significantly better than the Rubyconf presentation. People see the free presentation, then click a link to get even deeper, and everyone wins.

    (Peter, Gregg--you both have been saying the Envycast is "better." If it truly is, there would be no worry about having the free version available. The trouble then is that the improvements are surface level, and not in content and depth.)

  33. ab5tract says:

    Ooops. I meant "next year" not "last year".

  34. Jeremy Nicoll says:

    Just thought I would chime in and say that it really isn't fair to demand something of someone that the person is not willing to give. As has been mentioned before, RubyConf isn't exactly free. Confreaks gives a discount to those who release their videos under the Creative Commons license (last time that I was aware) and kudos to both the organizers of RubyConf _and_ Confreaks for doing their part to contribute to the Ruby community. However, trying to force _everyone_ to be charitable often results in us losing out on helpful (and cheap) information as not everyone can afford to donate _everything_ they have. Since the speakers are in fact donating their time to speak at RubyConf, they _should_ have a say in how their content is used. If the content is used in such a way that hurts their business - why would they even think about speaking at RubyConf? Process that thought for a second, and quit whining - please.

  35. Jeremy Nicoll says:

    An afterthought: I'd much rather pay $9 than spend days/weeks/months looking for the information that Peepcode presents. The time saved is incredible and we're fortunate to have it for only $9.

  36. Colin says:

    I was at RubyConf and saw Gregg's talk. It was the best talk I went to. I also purchased his screencast. They are not even close to the same thing. The screencast is better than anything Confreaks could have posted online for free. And well worth $9.

    The spirited discussion is interesting, but this notion that everything surrounding Ruby should be free is preposterous. Buy if you want it, don't buy it if you don't.

  37. Mike Breen (hardbap) says:

    I hadn't planned on buying this video but I just did to show my support for Gregg.

    Thanks for everything you've done for the community Gregg.

  38. Chris says:

    The concern isn't specific to Gregg or about whether RubyConf is public. The concern is a trend towards using conference speaking sessions as advertisements for paid content. Again, I don't think Gregg did this, because his RubyConf talk was spectacular. But it's a concern for future conference sessions. Peter is right, perhaps RubyConf and all other confs just need to say, "If you want to give your talk, it's going to be recorded and made available for everyone."

    I, for one, am glad most of the sessions were not direct advertisements to paid content, including Gregg's talk.

  39. Peter Cooper says:

    Chris: I think you summarize it very well and I generally agree.

    That said, it is very common to become a speaker because you have something to promote - typically a book or consultancy/development services. Speaking is definitely part of the promotional technique for those things and I don't see a problem with it as long as the sessions given aren't constantly "So buy my book to learn more" every two minutes. The motivation of wanting to promote your book / consultancy / whatever is not inherently bad though.

  40. Jeremy Nicoll says:

    @Chris I don't know how the process works, but there's probably plenty of protection already built in as the talks are actually reviewed before being accepted into RubyConf.

  41. paulc says:

    @Chris, that is a good idea, it would probably be better to have the talks be required to be published so we don't have crap like this happen again.

  42. Ryan Leavengood says:

    I think there is a group of people being left out here. I attended RubyConf 2008, paid my $250, and chose not to see Gregg's talk because I was more interested in seeing the one about MonkeyBars, and also because I assumed Gregg's talk would be RECORDED.

    I also heard Gregg's talk was standing room only and at least Lyle Johnson, for example, had to leave so he could actually sit down (he eventually came to the Monkeybars talk.) Now Lyle can't see the rest of the talk that he missed, and myself and other people not in Gregg's talk can't see it at all.

    If NONE of the talks had been recorded RubyConf attendees would have to make a decision and realize that they would be missing about 66% of the talks. But since luckily we had Confreaks there, that was not as much of a concern. Except we find out that some talks weren't recorded at the request of the speaker AFTER THE CONFERENCE. Oops.

    I would recommend that a future condition of speaking at RubyConf would be that you allow your talk to be recorded. If you later plan to commercialize it, don't make the talk. To get into RubyConf for free just to give a talk you have already prepared (and plan to get paid for) is a little shady (though pretty smart.)

    Now, that said, I have a lot of respect for Gregg and feel he deserves to get paid for time he spends preparing something like this. But I think the RubyConf part of it was a bad idea and unfair to attendees.

  43. Jason Watkins says:

    I don't think anything here was unethical.

    I would say however, that in the future I would be willing to pay extra for conferences that require permission from speakers for slides and video to be posted on the internet.

  44. Peter Cooper says:

    While I support Gregg in what he's doing, I should point out that I'm also in support of those who believe RubyConf - and similar conferences - should demand all sessions can be recorded for future use (where this is being generally done).. at the very least by those who paid to attend.

    ab5tract: On your latter point, I agree. I think not having the "free" version available is not ideal in this case. Having seen many freely recorded live talks, none of them approach the professionalism of Gregg's later production. You can't appear the same way live as you can in an edited video. The video overlaying isn't the same. The slides won't be as clear, etc.

  45. Peter Cooper says:

    I have to wonder what the PR effect would have been if Gregg, beforehand, had come up with a way of make this screencast freely available to RubyConf attendees only.. Hard to guess at these things, but it might have been an overall bigger promotion for Envycasts, perhaps?

  46. jennyw says:

    I like that RubyConf is more about just appreciating Ruby, and includes talking about cool things and ideas that might or might not have any commercial application.

    So while I see the point that people can use conference talks as a launching point for revenue-generation, I'm not sure that people motivated by money to speak would make the best speakers at RubyConf. RailsConf, absolutely, but it would be great for there to continue to be a place for hobbyists and others who program for some reason other than making a living.

    I'm not suggesting that RubyConf is morphing into an Enterprisey conference, or that we shouldn't have any commercial applications discussed. I just appreciate RubyConf as a less commercially-oriented conference.

  47. Seth Thomas Rasmussen says:

    Hmm. I guess I agree with the "mostly a bad PR move" point of view. If you had this plan in mind, you might have been better off to have skipped speaking at the conference or have spoken on something that wouldn't cheapen the value of your screencast offering.

    On the other hand, if your screencast is truly of superior value, perhaps you should leave them both to compete and test that?

    Either way, I haven't seen either presentation, so I'm just commenting from the peanut gallery as I pass by here.. ;)

  48. Timin says:

    I'll be paying the 9 US$...

    ...if just to reward Greg for the many times I've split my gut laughing at his various videos regarding Ruby, etc.

    Montréal, QC

  49. Bob Aman says:

    Here's the thing. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with Gregg charging $9 for his screencast. None at all. In fact, I've purchased pretty much all of the non-Rails PeepCode screencasts and PDFs, and they're easily worth the money. However, I feel pretty strongly that it is NOT acceptable for someone in the Ruby/Rails community to refuse videotaping of their talk on the basis that Gregg has. I almost never take notes at conferences because I know that ConFreaks, InfoQ, etc. is going to be putting up a video. At this point, I count those videos as part of the ticket price. I'm fine with letting this one slide. There's no need to make a big deal out of it, but in the future, I think RubyCentral or whatever organization is putting together a conference should simply make it a prerequisite that speakers agree to let their talks be taped and published for free. If Gregg doesn't want to compete with himself, he shouldn't be giving a talk. Simple as that.

  50. Rev. Dan says:

    Why are so many folks acting like Gregg is their bitch and should be flogged because he's charging a paltry $9 for the content he's produced? The overwhelming sense of entitlement being demonstrated is remarkably disconcerting, and is reminiscent of the type of behavior that pissed *** **** off enough to say "screw you ingrates... I'm not your dancing monkey." (obviously paraphrased)

    I 've gladly paid for Peepcodes (and Envycasts), and have donated to Railscasts and also Rubinius (before Evan was hired by Engine Yard). If I'm gleaning knowledge at an accelerated pace from somebody else's effort I feel *grateful* and feel it's appropriate to say thanks with a few bucks.

    i think more than a few folks need to STFU instead of screaming "DANCE, MONKEY DANCE" at people who have contributed to the community. A community of leaches won't be able to sustain itself.

  51. gluis says:

    if only b/c repeating what others have already said would be a waste, i'll just say: ditto #44, #45, #49, and #50

  52. Gregg Pollack says:

    Cross posting this comment (sorry if you read it twice).

    I’d be happy to throwanyone who DID go to Rubyconf but didn’t get to see my talk a free copy of the Envycast. Just drop me an email. Gregg at RailsEnvy

    After I’ve read everyone’s comments, I’m still not sure it was a horrible PR blunder. Since I was planning on using the same material in the Envycast, I was able to legitimize spending a lot more time to polish the talk. Probably more time then the average presenter.

    There are many people who are paid to work on their talks, so they can legitimize putting in extra time. You know, people who have full time gigs with lets say… FiveRuns, Engine Yard, Thoughtworks, or Sun Microsystems to name a few. I’m not so lucky, so I found an alternative way I could legitimize going the extra mile to polish.

    As someone attending the conference would you rather have a kick ass talk which you wouldn’t be able to watch again later, or a mediocre talk that you could?

    Some might say “If I can watch it later I can follow up on the topics”. This is precisely why I gave the URL to a PDF which gives you links to everything you’d want to follow up about.

    If you ran a conference, would you care about one speaker opting not to have the conference video released? Personally, I’d be more concerned about the attendees having a good time. I'd also be concerned that if I required all talks to be taped, that I'd be discouraging some speakers from submitting talks. Again, it'd be more important for me to please the people attending (and paying $250 bucks), rather then the people watching the videos later.

    I’ve never heard of a conference outside of something like the Apple Developers Conference require they record your talk, but they also charge $499 to view one set of videos:

    Just my two bits.

  53. bbnnt says:

    I prefer the pink one but green's not bad too.
    And 9$'s better than 250.

  54. ab5tract says:

    "If you ran a conference, would you care about one speaker opting not to have the conference video released?"

    My objection, and I am willing to bet most others, is about the precedent: what guarantee does the community have that it will only be "one" speaker at the next RubyConf?

    Perhaps an appropriate approach from Confreaks would be to have a donation box at the side of every video? Leveraging the good will of a community as awesome as ours is bound to pay off more than excepting yourself from the communal norms and saying "it's _only_ just me, it can't be that big a deal." That's not an attack on you Gregg, it's just an exposition of the slippery slope this case has presented to the community.

    It sounds like there is genuine incentive (the quality of the for-pay presentation does look really good, the PDF with "future reading" links on it) to go the pay route. Why did you suspect people wouldn't pay for it after watching the taped version? Especially if you made the case somewhere on the Confreaks page that you are not sponsored and you need some money?

  55. Jan Wedekind says:

    I don't think there should be a financial incentive to give conference talks or to develop documentation. People who are genuinely interested in Ruby will continue to develop it regardless whether get paid for it or not. As a matter of fact one currently can do a lot of useful (and paid) work with Ruby.
    I don't think anyone here has a problem with Gregg selling videos. However surely we want to avoid a future in which every piece of documentation has a price-tag and a copyright notice on it.
    A possible solution for everyone is to have developers release their documentation under a license such as the "GNU free documentation license".

  56. Bala Paranj says:

    Greg, you are a very smart guy. Don't apologize to anyone for selling quality screencasts at a very affordable price. Just ignore the comments from the cheapos.

  57. Radarek says:

    For everyone who think that the whole thing is about 9$: please read all comments carefully. Most people don't have any objections for Gregg's commercial screencast. They have (as I do) objections about doing something different from other people.

    "Since I was planning on using the same material in the Envycast, I was able to legitimize spending a lot more time to polish the talk. Probably more time then the average presenter."

    You said earlier that it was 2.5weeks. Ok, it's fairly large. Having said that what you can say about people who spend his *free* time on producing Ruby related software and later telling about it in RubyConf talks? There are many such a persons. How they can measure how long it take to make presentation?

    Could you imagine that for example Dave Thoms says: I don't want be recorded because I'd like to use some materials from my book"?

    Gregg, you aren't ruby-star (even you got "ruby hero award") and telling that you probably spend more time than others to make presentation isn't fair.

  58. grantmichaels says:

    The first 4 responses I managed to refrain from responding to (in this arena), however, after the most recent comment I must say that I'm pretty thoroughly disgusted by Gregg Pollack's tone in defending his decision, as well as the precedent he's comfortable setting for conference presenters ...

    Perhaps the next Rails Myth that DHH needs to debunk is "Myth #X: Is the gang-banging in the Rails community just a temporal inclination, or is it actually a community fostering those w/ a proclivity towards cannibalism?" ...

  59. Rev. Dan says:

    I like that the ID for this blog post is "1337." It's really appropriate 'cause the RailsEnvy guys are definitely uber.

  60. Bob says:

    I've enjoyed Gregg's talks at Lone Star Ruby Conference. That said, personally monetizing conference material is a Very Bad Idea and should be explicitly prohibited as part of the the agreement between speakers and the conference organization.

    If that means that presenters be compensated out of the conference fees, so be it. If that means particular sessions have an additional attendance fee, so be it. Those practices are standard and above-board and are clearly understood by presenters and attendees alike. It has worked well for the LISA conference for decades.

    It is not reasonable to expect conference attendees to be nickel-and-dimed by every presenter or any presenter for that matter; all it takes is one person to plant the seed that their presentation can be monetized independently of the conference framework and soon every presenter will be looking at attendees with dollar signs in his eyes.

    Again, I don't care about the quality of the work, its price, or that it's being sold at all. It's great that Gregg is putting the time and effort into the presentation to make it commercial quality. However it is thoroughly inappropriate to surprise conference attendees with a recording blackout and for-pay notes; if Gregg wants to sell his presentation, he should do it as a vendor, not as a presenter.

    And finally, the notion that someone has bills to pay is not justification for this behavior. If presenting at RubyConf is such a financial hardship, one would be better served by drumming up billable hours, not fleecing the flock.

  61. Peter Cooper says:

    Bob: Would you agree that this would all be entirely okay *if* Gregg had allowed the filming and free release of his RubyConf talk? (Assuming he still sold the higher quality, better produced version as he is now.)

  62. Justin says:

    While everyone loves a freebie, its his talk, his decision and he does have a great product (EnvyCasts and the free Podcasts). Everything you need to learn how to do things is available for free, thats open source... but I refrain from feeling that we should all give each other's time spent and self-earned information out to the masses for free.

    Its up to the person that has digested the open source to see if they want to share the recipe.

  63. LPl says:

    Solution: Every conference talk should be recorded and for a price made available online. The money collected should be split between the presenter and those who put on the conference. The total amount spent viewing talks shouldn't exceed the cost of actually attending the conference, therefore, if you attend the conference all videos should be available to you for free.

    It costs those who attend the conferences to see the talks. Why shouldn't it cost those who don't attend?

    Gregg: Maybe $9 is too much. I bet those complaining would go for $8.99.

  64. Carl Youngblood says:

    Hi, Carl Youngblood here, one of the Confreaks owners. I just came out of my lair after a long video editing and transcoding session to read this thread.

    There is another angle that may not have been fully considered. We were paid to record the conference from the funds that were collected from each attendee. When a speaker does not allow his talk to be recorded, he is essentially reducing the value of a service that was paid for already by the attendees.

    I'm glad that Gregg has offered to provide the screencast to RubyConf attendees, but I think that, in the future, speakers should stick to topics that complement or otherwise do not conflict with their commercial endeavors, so as to avoid any perception of unfairness to those who paid to attend the conference.

Other Posts to Enjoy

Twitter Mentions