Recently I had planned to attend a nearby technical conference on a weekend, but my plans fell through. As a result, my supervisor encouraged me to find a replacement, but having been out of the "free T-shirt and all the presentations you can stay awake through" circuit for many years, I didn't have any ideas of where to start.
I wanted to filter the conferences by topic: no sense attending a Web Development conference if all the presentations were far afield from what I do; I'm not a Ruby developer at present, and have no immediate plans to become one, so not much point in attending a deep exploration of that topic.
I also wanted to stay local: if there's something I can get to by car in a day, I'd prefer it.
I stumbled upon Lanyrd.com almost by accident: it's a sharp, well-engineered central point for data about upcoming conferences on a dizzying array of topics. Not just software: library science, economics, photography, water management, social media, and medicine were represented in just the one day on which I wrote this post.
I subscribed to about a dozen topics, limiting each to the USA, and Lanyrd immediately suggested 46 events in which I might be interested.
You can connect your Twitter or LinkedIn account with Lanyrd, which seems to offer a way to see when your friends and colleagues will be attending conferences. I wasn't able to confirm that, as the overlap of my LinkedIn account with Lanyrd results in only one person, but I imagine that feature would be more valuable for others.