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I would love to run a barcamp style Clojure event, however I wouldn't feel right making people pay several hundred pounds to attend. All the barcamp /unconference style events are free (or have a tiny fee)
SkillsMatter expect to at least make a profit from their exchange events, otherwise they would not be in business (and we could not use their space for free at meetups)
As people are paying a considerable fee, then I feel we do need to provide as much quality as we can to justify this expenditure. This does mean keeping the talks focused, especially as it is a single track, 2 day conference. Longer talks, like you see in other conferences are not always that great, as speakers don't get to the point that quickly (I am as guilty of this as anyone any other speaker).
Two years ago we were short of two lightning talks and we did get one person to give a talk on the day, but not a second person.
There seems to be very little interest from the local community in speaking over the last few years, as can be seen by the irregular monthly talks. This is the main reason I haven't invested time in organising a barcamp / unconference event. I am very keen to hear ideas on how to encourage and support people to speak.
I wonder if conferences on the whole are suffering over meetup fatigue? I’m just guessing here. Even in Belfast there’s three or four meetups a night during the week, sponsored by companies all desperate to hire. Topics cover everything from JS to ML to Cloud stuff. I know some devs that are just worn out with attending stuff that they are starting to slow down.
This is (in part) not a suggestion. Last year I attended FFSConf at SkillsMatter. It was an unusual format. Each slot was 30 minutes and contained a somewhat provoking lightening talk followed by a discussion around the topic of the lightening talk.
IIRC, last year there was a panel discussion at the end of day two at ClojureX. One could imagine having this panel discussion following one or two polarizing lightening talks on the same topic, to help fire up the discussion a bit.
The community as a whole usually has something they want to talk about and share. I have to admit the first time being, let alone talking, at ClojureX the imposter syndrome for me was so strong that I told Bruce that I didn’t feel good enough to be there (this was back in 2015). My perception at the time was that if you weren’t up on idempotency, high order functions, side effecting and all the other lingo then you were going to struggle to fit in. Now I’m only speaking for me though I suspect I’m not the only one that may be put off in the same way.
> As people are paying a considerable fee, then I feel we do need to provide as much quality as we can to justify this expenditure. You can ask people what they’d like to see on the day.
For example Skills Matter phone up random people who’ve bought their tickets for the conference and try to encourage them to do a talk. That to me comes across that they are looking for slot fillers rather than truly being in touch with the community and having interesting presenters.
I feel that the conference should be tailored more for the attendees rather than for the venue provider.
I mean, rather than going by “I feel this, you think that” maybe a questionnaire can be sent out, not by Skills Matter, but compiled by us, to ask people what they’d like to see do on the day?
Another example is ClojuTRE, they intentionally start their conference a bit later in the day, the talks are shorter and the breaks between the talks are longer, so that people can chat.
> There seems to be very little interest from the local community in speaking over the last few years, as can be seen by the irregular monthly talks. This is the main reason I haven’t invested time in organising a barcamp / unconference event. I ran one in the past, that was Clojure specific and it was great. It was well attended, the sessions that I attended were of good level. I suspect that there are multiple things at play here: - Clojure is sort of established now. People aren’t so “fanatical” about promoting it. - Also, a lot of people that used to do it in the early days have now moved onto other languages. - But then again, look at Berlin, they seem to be pretty active as far as meetups are concerned.
Another issue is that local meetup presentation is not the same as a barcamp event, where the talks are impromptu. People might attend a talk and then they’d like to expand/contradict the talk they just attended, so they’d get up to speak. Also, at barcamp style “talks” aren’t just simple presentations where one person speaks for the whole time, but can be round table discussions around a particular topic. Sort of what was done at the end of ClojureX last year, but in a smaller, more focused groups.
This avoids the feeling described above of having that impostor syndrome and you potentially get a discussion around a topic that you care about.
maybe a questionnaire can be sent out, not by Skills Matter, but compiled by us, Data protection wouldn’t allow you to do that. It would have to come from SM.
I’m not saying that we take any emails from anybody, but that a questionnaire can be put up and it can be announced so that those who care can participate.
I mean, all I’m trying to suggest is to have something more “for the people”, something where ideas can be exchanged in a more informal setting, rather than just following a set format because it’s a done thing.
Another thing, the videos, it’s great that they are released pretty much as they are filmed, but some people have moaned about that they have to log into Skills Matter website to watch them. I suspect that those people are not from the UK and they don’t know anything about Skills Matter, who they are and how they operate. I get that Skills Matter want people’s emails so that they can promote future events, but if the event was already hosted at their venue and paid for, can’t they just release the videos without “surrender your email” clause? (I don’t really feel passionate about this one, but since we’re chatting about issues surrounding the conf…)
yeah 100% this. I’m not giving them an email when there are ten billion talks on youtube
I generally think of clojurex as the "bake sale" for SkillsMatter. We get free hosting the rest of the year and put on a fundraiser for them once a year. (maybe we should make that more explicit, tho I know it is odd as they are a for profit company)
There we go: first tweet of the day… https://twitter.com/jasonbelldata/status/1144155360510578689
I went to a cfml conference in Germany about 2 years ago and did a very introductory talk on Clojure. One of the activities they did was a quiz night with 6 of the speakers as the participants. It was a lot of fun for the speakers and the audience. Would it be worth doing something like this on one of the days?
@dotemacs I agree that a barcamp style event would hopefully drive more engagement with people speaking. I don’t agree that people will spend around £180 or more (usually of their own money) to attend a barcamp. I would be happy for anyone to run a survey to see what the people want. I did this 3 years back and got only a very small number of replies (It May have just been a bad survey) Barcamp are typically run on a weekend (just like the workshops I organise before the Clojure exchange). SkillsMatter are not that keen on doing weekend events, so you would need to convince them. What you describe is not typically the formula that SkillsMatter wants to apply for their commercial conferences. So again, someone will need to meet with them and discuss this. If there is desire for a barcamp event, then lest run one. It may require us to run the event ourselves, rather than with SkillsMatter. If so we would need to find a venue and sponsors for the event and we would need a team (or one extremely dedicated person) to manage the logistics of the event. If you want to turn Clojure exchange into a barcamp, then I encourage you to lead the organisation of next year’s event - or this year’s event if you feel it should change sooner. I have no problem with someone else driving the event and arranging things with SkillsMatter.
I think that things are getting lost in this chat. So I’ll try to make it obvious > ClojureX I’m not saying that we should change ClojureX into a barcamp event. I’m proposing to consider some options to make ClojureX even better. > Barcamp But I’d love to organise another Clojure Barcamp style event. The last one was only for 3-4 hours in an evening, during the week and it worked.
I’ve put some ideas here, see what you think: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sHSvEATblgrJuxX4lcZmwLe2wuYyL5bP7fW3pAcAXkM/edit?usp=sharing
@dotemacs your suggestions got lost in the discussion. It seems you are suggesting we change the format of the Lightning talks. I am actually working on this with someone for at least one of the typical sessions
Let me know if you can access that document, it should be readable & editable by any good soul.
Let me throw here a few thoughts I had over the years. While I truly appreciate the work SM did (especially in the early days 8-9 years ago), I have the feeling that people attending ClojureX do so because there is no alternative. I also appreciate SM created an almost flawless format that is hard to argue about. However this is also a weakness as it tends to be repetitive (and ultimately boring): why 2 days, why the same conference pizza party, why the start at 8:30am? (I'm assuming these are their constraints). I know this has nothing to do with the quality of the talks or the organisation, but a successful conference needs to play also on entertainment and innovation.
SM is also visibly failing to find sponsors (that would help keeping the price down or possibly zero). It's a vicious circle: no sponsors, high ticket prices, fewer people coming (especially from outside London), low interest in sponsoring the same event (with almost the same people) twice. Wondering if prospect companies are perceiving SM as a competitor somehow. SM also has less and less leverage in terms of monthly hosting. That could rotate between some of the venues already available (uSwitch, FundingCircle, FunctionalWorks, possibly others). So you should not feel they are keeping London Clojurians hostage in any way.
@reborg last time we did a survey of what people wanted, the existing format was exactly what they wanted. No one stated any other ideas that I recall. Hopefully the survey that @dotemacs is running will encourage wider feedback from the community.
I am only intending to changes one of the Lightning talk session, although it will not be that different to the existing format. I am also planning to do one or more guided conversations during the first evening.
Anyone is welcome to get involved and drive any of the changes they would like to see.
Personally I like things the way they are. The key, I think, is to sell the positives to the sponsors and the attendees. We have to provide more value for people’s time and attention. It’ll happen though, I’m confident.
This isn’t the problem with the sponsoring. I will send you a DM about that issue.
Not sure if my previous comment went unnoticed in the noise or if it's just a rubbish idea 🙂 but what about a quiz with two teams or 3 speakers each? Only needs to be 30/45 minutes
@yogidevbear sorry, it did get a bit lost. Yes, a quiz night with the speakers is a very interesting idea. Seems like you have volunteered yourself to try organise that 😀
I would like to have a few evening activities and we can discuss this with SkillsMatter on the 17th July. Also feel free to explore the idea hear and raise it on the SkillsMatter Bandcamp website for ClojureX.
Fwiw, I wonder if a shorter, snappier format has legs, i.e. 30 min talks over a single day. I'd be interested to know how it plays out with 1 vs 2 days for SM and sponsorships, costs and profits (which they deserve and are entitled to make). The questionnaire would also be useful to mine out what proportion of people prefer 1 vs 2 days. Lastly, I wonder if it would make any sense for SM to switch up the venue for the odd year to freshen it up, (I. E. the Crypt).
Good points @jonpither please add them in the Google doc here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sHSvEATblgrJuxX4lcZmwLe2wuYyL5bP7fW3pAcAXkM/edit?usp=sharing And for that matter, it would be good if anybody else has any questions or would like to formulate the questions differently, please do