Back in January, my manager (Steve Cellini) mentioned that he’d kindly volunteered me to be Content Owner for PDC.  I haven’t blogged about that yet, as I’ve been spending the past 6 weeks trying to get my head wrapped around what exactly it is that I’m supposed to be doing.  I’m finally starting to get clarity – which means not that I have all the answers, but that I’m starting to get a sense of what questions to ask, at least.

 

Here’s the first one that comes to mind.  Why do you attend to PDC?  What do you hope to get out of the experience, and what makes it worth the cost of attending?  We know from our attendee survey in 2003 that around a quarter of our guests said they just wanted to keep up to date on existing technology, and another two thirds said they wanted to learn about new technology.

 

But what does it really mean to want to learn about a technology?  I can think of a few different intentions:

  1. I want to see Microsoft’s big picture vision and demos of future apps, to inspire me in planning the next version of my own app/features.
  2. I want to understand what the big new pieces of platform technology provide, so that I understand what new end-user capabilities I can add to my app and how to architect my app to support them
  3. I want to deeply understand the internal architecture of these new platform technologies, so that I can evaluate whether they are robust enough to meet my app’s needs
  4. I want to learn about how Microsoft expects its platform to be used, so that I can be sure I’m implementing best practice architecture and coding in my own apps that leverage MS technology.
  5. I want to learn how to write code against the new platform technology, so that I can start hacking on this stuff on the plane ride home and see if I can make it do anything useful
  6. I want to talk with my peers, architects and developers at MS and other companies, to understand how they’re approaching technology and make sure I’m not missing the next big thing.

And there are probably more beyond that.  I expect most people don’t have just one answer, but it would be interesting to see how you balance these goals.  Do you want to spend 10% of your time on #1, and 90% of your time on #6?  An even split of 16% of your time across all 6 areas?

 

We’re early on in the content planning process, and this is the time for me to guide what kind of breakout sessions, labs, pre-conference sessions, etc, we’ll be providing.  So, what do you want to see?  If you’ve attended PDC in the past, what did you like/dislike?  If you haven’t attended PDC, in favor of other industry conferences, why?  If you don’t think conferences are a valuable use of your time and money, why not?

 

Post a comment, or better yet, blog your thoughts and send me a trackback so I can read them.  I've plenty more questions to ask in the next several months if we can get a good dialogue going...