On conference schwag

When I moved to Chicago I realized I had a ton of conference bags. I was lucky enough to have a large closet in San Diego, and they kind of piled up in a back corner, from various ISITs and so on. I gave a few to Goodwill, but I have no idea if they will get used. I was recently talking to folks who work in public health and they were shocked that we get these “nice” bags at conferences — they get water bottles. Computer science conferences give out shirts. Why do we get bags? It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, for a number of reasons.

How much do these bags cost? I should find this out, but I imagine a full messenger bag with laptop sleeve (c.f. ISIT 2012) isn’t cheap, and that cost gets directly transferred to registration fees. It probably only works out to 20 bucks but still…

Why don’t we get pens and paper? Most of the time you get a bag, a USB stick with the proceedings, the program booklet… and that’s it. I was shocked at SPCOM in Bangalore that they gave us a spiral notebook (handy!) and a pen (and really nice one at that) on *top* of the bag (which is pretty nice, as backpacks go).

Don’t people already have bags? You’re traveling halfway around the world with your laptop. You must have some sort of bag that you use already — why do you need another one? How are you going to fit it into your luggage?

Of course, after thinking of these complaints it turns out my ISIT 2012 bag has been a lifesaver — my apartment was robbed and they took all of my computers and electronics and carried them off in my bag, so having a ready replacement sure was handy. Furthermore, I use the tote bags (ISIT 2007-2009) all the time for groceries or going to the gym or the beach, so those are great.

What kind of schwag would you prefer? I use my IPSN 2005 mug all the time at work for tea…