well i just wrapped up 12 consecutive days of conference attendance. whew, i'm spent. and i'm taking it out on my family...shame on me...yeah, the ones i haven't seen in 12 days. sometimes that tension just gets wound up. and no i don't mean taking it out on them physically, so hold off on calling the authorities...just, you know, stressed out and feeling behind...and they get the brunt of your bad attitude. i'm working on it.
enough of the babble...that's not what you're here for -- you're still here right?
well, i have to say, i've witnessed several different types of conferences this past road trip and i've landed on what i think is the best kind.
first i attended some internal meetings...yeah, they were typical microsoft meetings with shiny slide decks and well-prepared messages...the ones you generally don't get a lot of depth out of because they are tailored to the least common denominator. they're good, but not as depth as most like.
next was oscon, my first experience at oscon and my first larger non-microsoft conference. i posted my thoughts on the conference in general and how it differs from what i am used to, but i can say that the audience at oscon truly is different. from robin hood unleashing the jair-hads on us, to the most infants i've seen at a technical conference (yes, i sat across from a guy who took a break to feed his kid in the stroller -- now *that* is dedication!), i saw it all. without offending anyone (hopefully), the level of professionalism in the bigger arena is, well, different. i can't say it is bad or better, just different. there wasn't many CEO's walking around or other decision makers it looked like. oscon is the geekiest of the geeks...man capri's and all. it was fun though -- and much more energetic than other conferences. my only wish is that microsoft had a booth there with some couches...i think some great conversations could have been had throughout the conference. cost for conference plus tutorials: roughly $2500 (i can't remember). my other wish is that i could have attended the executive briefing...it seemed odd that was sheltered given that some people that attended weren't executives either. best speaker: anil dash.
within oscon was oscamp, a free conference within a conference. attaching on to the 'open spaces' movement, a group of people (although it seemed like brandon was running the show) organized a room throughout oscon to hold impromptu sessions. if you read earlier posts you may recall we hosted one as well. we did not see many people from oscon (that is registered, paid attendees) attending oscamp sessions. this could have to do with the lack of signage around it and i think maybe a better job (myself included) could have been done promoting that environment. the passion at these conversations though were real. remember jair? i wish we would have hosted more and i wish google and others would have joined in as well (and apparently so did others). cost to attend: $0; number of people: varied; number of sessions: 30 (i think)
prior to oscon/oscamp was the portland code camp. it was disappointing that it was cut to only one day as i signed up to present some sessions and because of travel would have only been able to do them the second day. argh. well, from what i monitored and talked to others afterwards, it was great...over 45 sessions to choose from, with no marketing, just code from real people, with real uses. awesome. cost to attend: $0; number of people: 300; number of sessions: 45+
my last was the no fluff just stuff series. i just wrote some reviews about them here, here and here. I won't emit them again here. this is a java-centric local conference. there was no hiding that -- and that is there marketing as well. it just seems so one-sided even for the non-microsoft community (er..um...open mouth insert foot -- that's what teched/pdc are tim). but coming from a community who feeds off of claims of openness it seemed there could have been more meat. i mean is java still that prevalent given the myriad of other open source options gaining signficant speed? this was mediocre to me. what amazed me is the number of people shelling out the dough. not a single person at no fluff was recognized as being at the code camp not 2 months earlier. cost to attend: $700; number of people: 100; number of sessions: 55
so i have to say, when you look at it from a developer perspective, code camps are the way to go. free. lots of people. lots of choices. did i mention free? seriously, you may not get the sugar snacks in between sessions, the continentail breakfast, or the buffet lunch...but you do get real conversations, real passion, and choices to see a ton of information in a single place. so i say to you: support the code camps! attend them, promote them, and PRESENT at one! think about it, do the math, look at the sessions...the code camps are significant and will only grow when people get involved.
my lowly 2 cents after 2 weeks of travel.