A question recently posted by Pekka got me thinking about conferences. Stack Overflow has DevDays (for the most part), was involved with Code-Ken, has local meet-ups, etc. All in all, great exposure and lots of community support. But I feel like there's a gap between the big conferences and the meet-ups... The local conference scene.
At least in my area there are lots of local conferences, events, user groups, etc. (The links are just for the stuff I know about off the top of my head and have attended in recent months.) And I feel like the Stack Exchange community has enough of a presence in enough areas that we can perhaps bring something to those local events.
I'm sure it would have to be a lot more formal than the local meet-ups, since sponsorship funds are generally involved. At the same time it should be much less formal than the big conferences, since Stack Exchange staff doesn't necessarily need to be involved. The question just becomes, how do we connect the volunteer community organizers (such as the meet-up organizers, who've done a fantastic job) with Stack Exchange on a formal enough level that we as a community can effectively represent the community and the company at these local events?
I've specifically said Stack Exchange rather than Stack Overflow because the latter might not be the only applicable community. It's certainly the largest, but communities like Server Fault could certainly stand well enough on their own at local conferences as well. And the groups can mix very easily, being all under the Stack Exchange umbrella. (For example, I imagine both Stack Overflow and Server Fault could be interested in a weekend event about setting up, administering, and developing against Windows Azure.)
What does the community think of this? I'd love to hear from users who have organized events in the past and can share their expertise on the matter, as well as Stack Exchange personnel who can speak to the idea from the company's perspective. Is something like this even viable? It is something we can drive by features in the current site engine, new small features added to it, a new site altogether, or direct contact between staff and volunteers?
I'll volunteer to help where I can, as I'm pretty much addicted to the local conference scene (at least Microsoft's stuff for now, since that is my bread and butter at work) and there's always a time slot or two (or more) where I'd rather man a booth than stare at a projector screen.