No matter how loaded the VC, over-funded the entrepreneur, or jaded the journalist, you won't see many leaving a tech conference without the $15 of tchotchkes in the swag bag that comes with the show's $3,000 admission.
In the past, I've received some pretty sweet bags of stuff from conferences like Demo (although this year, as Center Networks reports, it was mostly air). Of the conferences I attend, though, the only one where the swag is still memorable is the Walt and Kara show, D. See my reports from and from .
At TechCrunch50, the swag was mostly branded and useless junk straight from the catalogs of useless junk that marketing interns receive on their first days at work.
Still, there's nothing wrong with a good tchotchke, and this stuff is kind of fun to give out to kids, and useful if you need clothes for changing the oil or painting a room.
The best conference swag I know of comes from the Office 2.0 conference ( ), where paid attendees get some cool piece of hardware that becomes part of an experiment in collaboration. At the 2006 show, it was an iPod Nano. In 2007, an iPhone. This year, attendees got an HP mini-notebook. As for the Office 2.0 bag of branded marketing props: there isn't one. That show has the greenest non-giveaway of all, and I don't think anyone minds.