I had the opportunity to attend the Community Leadership Summit in San Jose last weekend followed by OSCON in the same venue. The whole experience of these in conjunction gave me a lot of interesting comparison and contrast.
First I’m going to talk about my frustrations so that I can get them out of the way and talk about all the really great stuff. Like most people who have written about their experience of the weekend — I miss Portland for OSCON. I was in Portland for the Open Source Bridge, which was small, intimate, granola and very purely open sourcey. My main problem was that driving from Oakland to San Jose was absolutely 10x more painful than I imagined it would be. By the time I got down there each day to park (and pay) for that massive hot concrete bunker they call a parking garage I was in a terrible mood. It took at least an hour before I was even in the mood to talk to anyone. I’m not going to spend any more time harping on this, but please O’Reilly, if you are doing it in the bay area do it in SF, Oakland, or even Sanoma — but SJ didn’t work for me
Good things! Open Source Bridge was really small, but there was a great tight knit group of folks there. Percentage wise, there were more women attending and involved than any other conference I have been to. I think conference planner should take a look at how they managed their costs and only sprung for the necessity. I do hope that next year the attendance goes up, more talks and interesting people to talk to is the only thing I would like to see change with this conference.
Community Leadership Summit was different than any meet-up I have ever been to. The extreme un-conference format really gave it a different vibe. The idea here was that anyone involved, or interested in being involved in an OSS community could come and basically round table a whole big set of different topics (determined on the fly). And it actually worked! Many interesting folks from different organizations and projects showed up and had a lot of questions, and a lot to say. Nine out of ten of the discussions I participated in had some really great substance, and a reasonable flow of different people talking. One was pretty much two or three people talking a lot, lots of people listening, and one guy very blatantly sleeping. I guess you can’t win them all… One thing I thought was really interesting was a small almost ‘track’ of ‘social media in community building’. It seems many people want to build up their community, but are already overwhelmed with all of the different tasks involved. Their question’s were — ‘Should I use twitter/facebook etc. to promote my project?’ And if so, “How do I do it without spending all day and night on there?’ I think the answer is “Yes”, use them, as much as you reasonably can. You want to really kick ass and grow you community… give up sleeping for a couple weeks, get interns, encourage your community help you!
I’m not going to try to provide a full recap of the discussions, because they were beyond what I have time to even try to summarize — but it was great talking with all of you! Special thanks for Jono Bacon and Canonical for their support of this event.
I have to admit, by the time it became time to get involved in OSCON I was pretty beat. Since I work in SF I was trying to be involved in the conference, but also keep working — which was a bit much. I have to say for my personal growth, the best thing I did was attend the Damien Conway Speaker Workshop. I heard his great talk on “How to not suck at being a speaker”, and then had the chance to get up in front of everyone and get torn apart. It turned out to be the best speaking advise I have ever received, Tuesday I completely re-did my Slides and practiced the talk out-loud in the mirror with an audience of cats. Unfortunately part of the re-do did removed all of the loud Journey from the talk.. I may see if there is some way I can work a little of that back in for next year!
- Bigger Font, ALWAYS
- Talk to the audience, don’t preach to them
- Simple slides, simple colors
- Don’t put a logo on every slide, its annoying
- Ask questions
- Tell a story
- Be very careful with demo videos
- Talk about things you care about and know
- 4 points max on a slide, they aren’t queue cards
- Don’t be nervous (this is a bit harder to fix)
There was a lot more than that, but those were incredibly important in making the Windmill talk more successful. The food was pretty good, the free beers were nice, walking around the Expo Hall yielded lots of cool stuff to look at and play with.
Saw the inevitable excitement over “Cloud Technology”, Scala, Lift, Closure, R, CouchDB and all of the other new and awesome things I haven’t had enough time to really dig into.
Thanks for a great conference season everyone! Monday I leave for Moscow, stand by for a report on that.