[DISCLAIMER: the opinions posted here do not necessarily represent those of my employer.]
To great relief, I am now back in the Northeast after a trip to AWS re:Invent 2022. For the benefit of no one in particular I am now journaling my thoughts, in no particular order.
My biggest observation is, quite simply, to hell with Las Vegas. It's not the place for me. Very overstimulating. Everyone and everything wants your attention, and there is almost no escape from it. I can only imagine what my introvert daughter would do if she were there ... she'd probably curl into a ball with a blanket over herself and noise-canceling headphones on for the entire time. There are not just lights, but jumbotrons everywhere. On the sides of buildings, on the backs of trucks, there are flashing lights everywhere everywhere everywhere. There is no keeping to yourself in Las Vegas; everyone and everything is in your face.
Amazon wasted a lot of space. Their convention took up space in half a dozen different hotels. And these aren't just ordinary hotels; each one of them is a mini city with a large convention center, a casino, an entire shopping mall, and thousands of rooms. I believe they wasted a lot of space and they could have done the convention in maybe one or two of these hotels. And they didn't have to spread it out all over the strip either. How about using hotels that are all next to each other so you don't need buses to get between them! Including the beautiful and fabulous Trump hotel, which they passed on because Amazon is full of the kind of people who work for Amazon.
How about the food? The food in Las Vegas is overpriced. It's good, but I'm from New York so I'm no stranger to good food. It's just "good". Not out-of-this-world. But the food inside the convention? Practically inedible. Once again, it was put together by the kind of people who would work for Amazon. Nearly all of it gluten-free, dairy-free, and taste-free. Even the "ethnic" food was lousy: a man of Indian origin who sat at a table with me said "I have eaten a lot of curry, and this is not good curry." Hey Amazon, how about you just put out a table full of hot dogs? It's the easiest food in the world to serve to tens of thousands of people. In the world of food, wide appeal is diametrically opposed to politically correct food fads. After about the second day our team didn't even bother with the grub hall and we just went out for lunch. Maybe they're counting on that. (If I go back next year I'll probably hack the system by requesting a kosher meal. Those looked edible.)
To be honest ... I really think that Amazon simply doesn't care. They're the biggest name in technology right now and this whole convention is just a way for them to flaunt their bigness. There's no pan-industry conference like COMDEX anymore, so "anyone who's anyone" simply shows up at re:Invent, sometimes with only a barely viable token connection to cloud computing. And that's probably what Amazon is thinking: "bring the whole industry to here because we are the industry." And for the time being, that is true, since "cloud" is the current mania.
(For the truth about cloud mania, read David Hansson's excellent blog post "Why We're Leaving The Cloud [https://world.hey.com/dhh/why-we-re-leaving-the-cloud-654b47e0]" in which he correctly points out the places where hyperscale cloud computing excels -- at the small end of the market where a new organization can't afford infrastructure, and at the high end where massive elasticity is needed -- and that the stable, predictable middle is better served by other hosting setups.)
As mentioned in the disclaimer, my opinions do not necessarily represent those of my employer. As an IT architecture professional I work in both public and private cloud spaces. As a technolibertarian I want a level playing field, and my opinion is that both Amazon and its conference are too damn big. The only relief I found was at a Denny's across the street from my mega-hotel, where I sat, late in the evening, in a room that was not overcrowded, without flashing lights in my face, without loud noise everywhere, sipping some good coffee and finding my zen. In that moment, I found a peaceful space that mimicked home, until I could finally get home.
Back in high school I had a friend who would organize these "let's spend 24 hours at Denny's" challenges.
Just keep sitting there, ordering the minimum amount of "more coffee" to keep them from kicking the group out.