Last weekend (August 1st and 2nd 2009) I went into London to attend the Alt.NET UK Conference or more specifically two separate but related days. This was my first ever Alt.NET conference and I absolutely loved it. It was exciting to be around so many enthusiastic and smart individuals discussing software development with an open mind and a desire to help those around them. No elitism, no stuffiness, just developers doing what they do best – talking about (and doing) development. It reminded me of my all time favourite conference SPA (Software Practice Advancement from the BCS). If any Alt.NET folks stumble upon this post, then I would highly recommend they take a look at the work of SPA and check out a previous post I did on some of the smart stuff they do in their events. SPA has pretty much perfected the balance between scheduled sessions and “on the fly” sessions, plus they do some great work with wikis and general capture of outputs from workshops plus an emphasis on the “bits between the sessions”, which are generously long to encourage discussion (2 hour lunches, 30minutes between sessions) plus more (new folks are buddies up with old timers and encouraged to meet up to discuss how the conference is going).
But I digress. Lets get back to the weekend. The weekend was split into two:
The conference applied the concepts of self-organisation of Open Space Technology including the Four Principles and The One Law.
The Four Principles
The One Law
The "Law of Two Feet": If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go to some other place where you may learn and contribute. (I’ve always been a fan of this one!)
One of the most impressive parts of each day is watching the agenda for a four track conference (8 sessions on Saturday, 16 on Sunday) created “on the fly” – and then work (mostly). In simple terms every attendee can propose a topic, then as a group the popularity of each topic is agreed and a schedule arrived at. All in around 30minutes. Well done to the organisers for making this smooth.
Day two morning and the agenda starts to get populated:
The agenda part complete. LOTS more sessions were proposed.
The session proposals complete, attendees now indicated which they would like to attend by scribbling on the post-its.
And once all that is done, you get to attend the sessions.
In terms of sessions, I attended quite a variety and learnt something in every one. Highlights were:
All in all, I thoroughly recommended you try and make any future conferences and a big “Hi” to anyone I spoke to who has stumbled upon this post and a special thanks to the organisers @serialseb, @adean, @ICooper, @Ben_Hall and @MichellFlynne.
P.S. Looks like I left an impression: