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On Conference Formats

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On Conference Formats

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Matt Wynne just blogged about conferences that have a high proportion of curated content, and how that can seem to create an undesirable rock-star culture in which very few of the attendees participate actively. I didn’t attend the conference that sparked Matt's thoughts, but I do tend to agree with his sentiments. Here are a few random responses of my own:

  • Stage-managed is much less engaging and enjoyable than spontaneous. This is one of the reasons I’m no longer involved with AgileNorth.
  • I like BoFs (Birds of a Feather sessions), which are more like round table discussions than presenter-led talks.
  • I like SPA‘s randomly-selected buddy groups, in which a group of strangers meet occasionally to share their experiences of the conference so far.
  • I loved the hacking on raffle in response to Matt’s call-to-arms at the Scottish Ruby Conference in 2012.
  • The lightning talks were one of the highlights of this year’s #scotruby for me.
  • I was uncomfortable at SPA the year Kent Beck came to talk about XP, because the whole three days became the Kent circus; he was accompanied everywhere by 50 sycophants.
  • After Jim Weirich‘s rspec-giventalk this year I wanted to stand up and say “This excites me so much that later I will be re-coding the event_bus specs in this style — who wants to pair?”, but there wasn’t the time. I wish every conf session would end with pairing challenges like that.

Hearing new ideas from speakers is great, but discussing ideas and learning from friends and strangers is much greater. In my opinion.



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Published at DZone with permission of Kevin Rutherford, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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