DevConf India 2017

18 Jul 2017 - conferences

The DevConf CZ conference has been going on for a few years now. India got it’s first edition this year in May. I got looped into helping the conference over the course of the month leading up to the conference. The first thing I did was to buy the domain name and register the Twitter account. I was also going around asking people to submit talks for the CFP. I was also asked to help edit the content for the conference. This made it impossible for me to talk about anything, since we did not want a conflict of interest.

During the talk selection process, we first looked at the talks and their content. In case a talk proposal wasn’t focused on the right audience, we got in touch with the author and asked for an edit. For this event, our target was sysadmins. We made an effort to give a few slots to first-time speakers. This is something I’m committed to doing if I continue to help with the event. In fact, I’d like to do more. For example, speaking workshops and help with designing presentations.

We had several missteps at this stage already. Our CFP announcements was quite late. We could have had a lot more people propose to speak at the event if they had enough notice. Some speakers did not like the process were they had to give the talk to the selection committee. After this event, I’ll admit I’m a big believer in this process. It’s easy to filter out talks that sound good but aren’t great this way. What we did wrong in this process is timing. We did the rehearsals as late as one week before the event. For the next edition, I’d like to move the schedule so talks are final at least 60 to 90 days before the event.

I arrived late night the day before the event because of date conflicts. On day 1, there were only going to be workshops for Devconf, so I didn’t have to do much. The Ansible workshop had high demand but few seats. That ended up being a bit challenging for both the trainers and the attendees. Some people who RSVP’d may not have shown up on time and some people who didn’t RSVP at all showed up. We make a decision to say that the people who were there at 10 mins past the start time could sit at the tables. Everyone else would have to sit in the chairs at the back. They’re welcome to take part but the facilitators won’t be able to help them at their place. If we do this again, I’d either charge for the workshops or commit to a first-come first-serve basis. We inconvenienced a lot of people by our decisions, but we did what we thought would serve the event best. I couldn’t stay awake after the first tea break, so I headed back to the office and then finally back to the hotel for a nap.

The second day, I was much better refreshed and energetic thanks to a good amount of sleep. We had a full track for DevConf and a long list of things that could go wrong. We started off the day being behind time but over the course of the day we were running early. The day ended with Jim’s keynote which was fantastic. We lost a couple of videos due to a human error/problem with the recording infrastructure. All the other videos from the conference are up on YouTube.