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October 30, 2003

Relections on BoF sessions

The "Birds of a Feather" sessions were a good idea and I hope they continue at future Microsoft conferences, but there were a few things that needed fixing:

1. I lost count of the number of times the organiser said, "Well, I haven't prepared anything, so everyone just leap in," followed by dead silence. Organisers should have some sort of ideas for interesting topics -- presumably that's why they proposed the session. Sure, fluidity and openness are the raison d'etre of these sessions, but there should something to break the ice.

2. The rooms were awful. Way too big, and in at least one of them the air-conditioning was deafening. The physical layout was all wrong too. The folks at the COM Interop BoF had the right idea, sitting at the back of the room: this eliminated the stage/audience distinction and forced people to move chairs around, which meant they ended up in a more natural format.

3. Most moderators didn't know how to lead open discussions. This meant the louder voices drowned out the quieter ones. Werner Vogels at the weblogging BoF was the only person I saw trying to make sure that everyone got a fair crack of the whip.

Whining aside, the BoFs were a great chance to meet up and share ideas, and I hope we'll see a wider variety, perhaps of smaller sessions, at future conferences.

October 30, 2003 in PDC | Permalink

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