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New way to attend JavaOne talks

Posted by driscoll on May 5, 2006 at 11:05 AM PDT

One nice thing about being around this stuff forever: You end up on all the interesting committees. I'm on the JavaOne Program Committee, which helps decide the content at JavaOne.

Every year at JavaOne, we have the same problems - some talks are in big rooms, and you can hear the crickets chirp. Others are in medium (600 capacity) rooms, and there are people sitting on the floor - or worse, turned away at the door. We do the best we can at guessing, but it's impossible to get it right 100% of the time. And hastily thrown together overflow rooms are only a patch on the problem.

So, JavaOne is going to be run a bit differently this year. Instead of queueing up outside the talk you wish to attend (or camping in the room prior to the previous talk ending), there's going to be reserved seating.

No, really... reserved seating. You'll be required to register ahead of time for the talks you wish to attend, and everyone who's registered will get to go in first. Only after all the registered people go in will the unregistered people be allowed to go into the room. This also means that the rooms will be cleared after each talk.

I have to say, when I first heard this, I was a little skeptical - the Esplanade, in particular, tends to get really crowded with human traffic at every talk change. Visions of mobs of unhappy people milling about in that narrow corridor quickly sprang to mind. I wasn't the only one who was skeptical, either. But the conference organizers assured us that they'd done the same thing for other conferences as well (many as big as JavaOne), and they had answers for every objection that we threw at them. In the end, we were convinced - moving around 10k+ people is a difficult job, but it's what they do for a living, and they're pretty good at it.

Doing things this way has some obvious benefits - for one thing, it'll allow us to change our plans for how we'll be giving talks BEFORE everyone shows up at the door. It also has some interesting benefits that may not be readily apparent at first glance - such as allowing us to really plan a better JavaOne next year, since we'll finally have a truely accurate attendance number for each talk.

So, I'm optimistic about the process. But it will only work if everyone goes out and registers for the talks they want to attend. So, if you've already registered for JavaOne, please don't skip this step.

As always, I'd love to hear what you think of this idea. Let me know below.

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