D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Alt.NET Conf: Brain is back in skull, ready for the onslaught.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 9:26 AM

Now that I've had a few hours of sleep, here's a bit more involved report on Alt.NET day 1. Also, if you want to see video of the opening of the conference, Jeffrey has video of it on his blog here.

First off, we went over the 4 principles of open space:

- Whoever comes is the right people

- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened

- Whenever it starts is the right time

- When its over, its over

Now these might seem a bit airy at first glance, but they make a tonne of sense. The second one struck me the most: the idea that you don't need to have a pre-conceived notion of what the end result of a discussion should be...that whatever the output is, its fine. It frees you up from this whole idea of having to "hit key points" or coming up with multiple pages of notes or as a moderator feeling like you have to drive the conversation. Whatever happens is the *only* thing that could have happened.

Then we moved on to the topic submission. There was no pre-allowed submission for topics, no board that had to select speakers...this was open to EVERYONE that was in attendance. And people exercised that. They walked up, wrote down their idea on a piece of paper, announced who they were and what they wanted to talk about, and then added it to the board.

Next, we have the part where attendees initial the papers as to which topics they're interested in. Also, any conflicts in scheduling or if topics may be close together are left to US, not the organizers...its a very empowering experience. One thing to note also: we're instructed to not care about the scheduling when voting. So if you have three sessions that you're interested in and they all are set for the same timeslot, then you sign your name to all three regardless.

Now the organizers are going to take that information and create a formal schedule out of it, but we still drove 99.99% of what our conference will look like.

So with that business done, it was time for the fish bowl discussion demo, and we were treated to some big names talking about the number of languages developers need to know and are exposed to. There was one comment by Martin Fowler that I could do a whole blog post on (I might actually). I don't know that I wrote it down exactly verbatim, but this is what I got from his statement:

The difference between the languages (VB.NET, C#, etc.) have more to do with how the communities use them.

Wow...that is so true of what I experienced over the last week at the MVP summit. I was curious too how many VB.NET developers came out to the Alt.NET conference...my guess is that very few if any showed up. Why would that be? Why is there this notion that if you want to be alt.net you're C#, and if you want to be...whatever the other thing is, you're VB.NET...but that's not me saying that, that's the community's actions speaking.

Ok, this is getting long...and my mind is getting blown again just thinking about this. More great stuff to come today...



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