A short post on EclipseCon 2010
[Update – once you read this, go check out this entry in Don’s blog for some extra goodies!]
The submission floodgates have been opened on EclipseCon 2010, and you have until December 18 to get your submissions in to attend the usual West Coast extravaganza of all things Eclipse and OSGi. Go for it.
I’ve been seriously quiet about the conference, even though I’m Program Chair and should be running around shouting about it. If you are following me on twitter, or searching on the #eclipsecon hashtag you will have seen a few leaking tweets over the past little while. But here, now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is a little more information. This marks the point from where you may begin the countdown to the insufferability of /me on this topic.
The Committee of The Caring
The Program Chair does get to innovate a little bit on the approach and set-up of the spirit of the conference and some of the structures that will support same. This person also gets to pick the Program Committee, a shower of dedicated and committed professionals with a overweening fondness for Eclipse and that most qualifying of characteristics — they care. I don’t mean that in a fluffy-cardigan-cuddles-and-tissues kind of way. I mean it in the way that if you try to mess with their relationship with Eclipse, they care enough to see you outside in the car park, toot sweet. You know what I’m talking about.
What’s Different This Year?
Back to the innovation piece. When Bjorn announced the conference way back in July 09, the first little peep of innovation squeaked out. This was the themes. I think it’s important that we create themes that directly address the Eclipse Ecosystem’s three constituencies – consumers, contributors and community.
- Making with Eclipse — you are consuming Eclipse open source software to build your own products, internal or external to your organization. You could even be selling them and making pots of cash, which is good. You want to come to this conference and see what people in the same boat as you are doing, what new innovations have come to light that you can use to speed up your processes and potentially reduce your costs and to show everyone how cool the stuff you’ve made happens to be.
- Making for Eclipse — you are a contributor or a committer, you write code, or docs, or both. Maybe your language skills mean you do translations. In some way you are injecting some of your expertise and time in to enhancing and extending the corpus of Eclipse creativity. You’re here to show people the awesome stuff that you are producing and adding to the Eclipse Ecosystem, as well as to teach people APIs, announce new projects and talk about project directions.
- Making Community — one of the most important things at a conference is the fact that you have many human meteors zinging around the halls bumping into each other and exchanging information. You’re here to meet your forums and IRC buddies face-to-face, or to have a full-duplex discussion with a group telling them why they should take a certain path, or to finally grab a project lead and suss out exactly how such-and-such a weird API works.
But what about the technology, I hear some shriek, won’t someone please think of the technology? High level themes like the above are not enough to navigate a conference the size of EclipseCon. When you go to the submission system, you have a whole passel of tags that will help you mark your talk. If you are looking for something in particular, you can search the talks using the tags too. You think maybe we need more tags? Let me know on a comment here, or address yourself to @oisin in tweetenland.
Yes, we’ve got ski ratings too. If your talk is totally hard-core, you should give it a double-diamond marking to set expectations. People with dashed expectations sometimes get a little heavy-handed with the -1 cards. Don’t worry about marking your talk as being at the easiest level, the Program Committee wants talks at all levels for all comers.
Types of Talks
Here’s where things get a bit more interesting. I made a post at EclipseCon 2009 where I blew the lid off the story that I had been at some boring talks. Yikes! I got a bit of ribbing for that, as you can imagine, so look out for the case of rotten fruit wherever I do Eclipse talks. When I got this Program Chair gig, I had a few chats with a few people, looked at a number of presentations and proposed to the Program Committee that this time around we are going to savagely cut the number of hour-long talks. This will cut waffle. It will cut meandering code walk-throughs. It will cut monster slide-decks. Your talk will be clear, sharp, to the point. You will say all you want to say and you will do it in twenty-five minutes. There will be applause at the conciseness of your perspicacity, and you will be mobbed by well-wishers in the halls. Seriously.
Here’s the nitty-gritty details of the talk sizes
- Lightning Talk — it’s a Blitz. You have twelve point five minutes to do your thing. Get up there and show that crazy mash-up you’ve constructed, tell me what’s new in your project, shoe me the result and give me a page-o-links so I can find out more. I’ll find you and bug you if I have questions.
- Standard Talk — this is the twenty-five minuter. You know the score already.
- Extended Talk — I never said there were going to be no long talks, just that we would be culling their population. An Extended Talk is fifty minutes long. You don’t just get one easy as pie. The Program Committee will be scrutinizing the submissions and you will need to get over a high bar to get an Extended Talk accepted. These guys are professionals and can smell over-stretched talk like a shark smells blood in the water. Top tips — don’t leave your abstract until the last hour before the call for submission ends and then bang it out fast; do link to a paper or document giving more information about your talk; do expand on details in the comments section of the submission; do produce slideware early; do have multiple presenters construct a connected whole from two pieces of cloth; do show some demonstration applications.
- Tutorials — you know these guys. A tutorial can be two or three hours long.
- Panels — you might know these guys from previous EclipseCons or other conferences. Panels are chancy – they can be dull, but there’s nothing better than a good, disputative panel to get people engaged. The Program Committee will be working hard to make sure the Panels won’t have a dull moment in their one hour length.
- Unconference — you’ve heard of these, right? Ever been to a BarCamp? If you haven’t, don’t worry. What we are talking about here is a participant-driven conference space in the evenings – it’s like the base class of a BoF. The idea is that you can get some space to do a short talk or meeting, you put the subject up on a notice board and people turn up, or not. We’re still putting the details together on the logistics for this one, so hang in there for a future blog entry.
I think this is the most interesting part. An EclipseCon day is a long, long day, especially if you have travelled a distance and it can be tough to keep the concentration levels up, despite liberal caffeination. The best way to stave off that all-conferenced-out feeling is to ensure that there is a mix of things going on during the day. So I’ve applied a bit of innovation to the structure of the conference itself. We kick off in the morning with either a tutorial, or a keynote followed by a tutorial. Get your learning on. After lunch, it’s talk sessions. Sit back and listen, or ask questions. End of the day, it’s Panels. Ask questions, get engaged in a conversation. Evening time, it’s the Unconference. Did something inspire you during the day? Grab a podium and talk about it! Maybe someone agrees with you, or maybe the opposite. You can go and blog the day later on.
That’s the short description of what’s going to go down this year. I’ll follow up with more detailed articles on submissions, panels, tutorials, unconference and all that. Your comments are welcome. Ask questions, write your own blog entries. While you are doing that, I’ll be over here, watching the submission system.