"…And Thousands of Their Closest Friends"
DemoCamp Toronto 19 was announced on Thursday, after a 7-month hiatus. It's moving to a smaller venue as part of an attempt to get away from the "trade show" feeling of the last few 'camps --- lots of people had said that they were too big, and that the proportion of attendees who might plausibly one day present had shrunk too much.
Unfortunately, a smaller venue means there's only room for smaller --- er, I mean "fewer" --- people, which in turn makes it harder for newcomers to break in. The day before the announcement went up on his blog, David tweeted, "DemoCamp Toronto details coming tomorrow. Wowsers looks like we're full UPSTAIRS before the announcement, I love the back channel." On seeing this, one of my students swore and said, "OK, so how do I sign up for the &*@!ing back channel?" The only comfort I could offer was that I didn't find out about it 'til after all the tickets had gone either...
I don't think there actually is an answer to this problem. Big get-togethers have low signal-to-noise ratios and require unsustainable levels of effort to organize; small ones have all the problems mentioned above, and meeting more often isn't feasible for people who have children to tickle, companies to run, or assignments due at school. As David says, there are lots of other 'camp-style events now in Toronto that make it a lot easier than it used to be to get to know the community; maybe we just have to accept that you have to choose between thousands of fans in a stadium and the intimacy of a coffee-house show.