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The "Thinking in Java" conference was kind of a bust, sign-up wise. And I think I know why.
When I first advertised seminars through the web, it was way back in the web land-rush days when there was a lot of space and not a lot of shops. And not so many people teaching Java, either, at least not advertising on the web. I scheduled a seminar, and it filled up. I got used to this approach of just announcing and effortlessly getting plenty of folks, and I've been loathe to give it up because all the alternatives look like more work. Hard to give up cushy once you've had it.
Also, the general Java space has filled up with conferences like Java One, the Colorado Software Summit, and most recently "No Fluff, Just Stuff," which does the smart thing of traveling around so you don't have to (something I did with Richard Hale Shaw in the pre-internet C++ days, through the Software Development Conference). A general Java conference doesn't have enough focus to compete in that space.
And in hindsight, I didn't even really want to do the conference. I just thought I should, because I had finally finished Thinking in Java, 4e. So that was a bad sign by itself, especially because I've lately been trying to only do things that I really enjoy. Everyone has a better time that way, especially me.
There weren't enough signups for a conference, but as I was getting ready to cancel it, the people who had signed up complained enough that I started thinking: "why not transform it into something I do want to do, and where it doesn't matter how many people show up?" There was one person from the Programming the New Web conference who said he would show up regardless, and I knew I would have a good time doing "Some Kind of Event" even if it were just he and I, and everyone else said "too weird, we're not coming" (which didn't happen).
So I started calling it Some Kind of Event, and decided to take the Open Spaces idea one step further. In Open Spaces, you know the general topic, but you don't know the actual discussions until people show up and start putting sticky notes in your time-and-space grid. But in Some Kind of Event, we don't know what the topic is when the event is scheduled, and we use the same kind of Open Spaces trust that the right thing will come along in time.
In this case the people who registered batted some ideas around until they started coalescing on Web Frameworks, everyone agreeing that they didn't have enough hands on experience with what is out there. And someone suggested the title "Web Frameworks Jam," as in a musical jam session, where people just get together and experiment.
The goal is to try out the web frameworks that we're interested in by building something with those frameworks and to compare and contrast our results. Which from a purely selfish standpoint is going to be very interesting for me, so I'm now really looking forward to it, whereas the "Thinking in Java Conference" was seeming more and more like work.
The thing I love about this idea is that, just like Open Spaces, anything can happen. With Open Space events, that "anything" has without fail always been surprisingly good, always far better than I anticipated. But there's also a kind of dynamic "discover what we really want" action going on that has the potential of exploring places that I don't anticipate. The key is, I think, to get buy-in at the beginning from a small core group so that you can say "if only these people show up, we'll have a good time."
I also hope to hold some kind of Python-centric event in the future; I haven't before because of the same marketing issues.
You can read more about the Web Frameworks Jam and sign up
About the Blogger
|Bruce Eckel (www.BruceEckel.com) provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.|