No Sleep Till Sunday.

In my previous post, I talked a little about the non-technical “amenities” (for want of a better word) at YAPC 2013. In this post, I want to talk some about the technical presentations at the conference, and a bit about the social aspects.

One thing I really liked about YAPC was the “Hallway Track”, or “Hallway++”. The basic idea behind “Hallway++” appears to have come from a gentleman named Matt S. Trout, and is based on two key ideas:

  1. The most valuable discussions often take place, not during talks, but in the hallway between talks.
  2. Too many people are afraid of disturbing or bothering someone in the hallway, and thus discussions don’t get started.

Thus, Hallway++. Hallway++ participants wear a sticker on their badge, or some other indicator to show they’re participating in Hallway++.

If you see somebody with Hallway++ on their badge, or a group with a sign saying Hallway++ on their table, that tells you in advance that you won’t be interrupting.

At least, it means you won’t be rudely interrupting – you may walk up to me and be told “frantically working on slides, please find me sometime after my next talk”, or you may walk up to a group and be told “sorry, we’re discussing a startup idea, we’ll wave when we’re done”.

The point here is to flip the defaults – for this symbol to say “I would rather risk a brief disruption to whatever I’m doing than risk missing out on an interesting conversation.”

So the Hallway++ badge/sign tells you that this person would rather you did try to talk to them, and not to worry about it.

I like this idea. I like this idea a lot. I want to marry it and have babies with it. More seriously, I would like to see this idea extended beyond technical conferences; I am seriously considering taking it to WorldCon if I end up going.

Did it work? Well, I had a fair number of quick interactions with participants, but no deep technical conversations. That’s more on me, though; in retrospect, I should have sought out more Hallway++ participants and tried harder to strike up conversations. (This is, as everyone knows, a hard thing for me.) Mr. Trout made what I thought was an interesting point in his talk on Wednesday: he’d thought Hallway++ would be a signal to introverts that it was okay to talk to extroverts, but as it turned out it was more of a symbol to extroverts that it was okay to talk to the introverts.

Another social note: YAPC 2013 in particular, and I believe YAPC in general (but since this was my first one, I can’t prove it) is very welcoming to first-time attendees. Monday morning, we were told that we (the first-time attendees) were considered to be VIPs, and would be treated as such: from the point of view of the YAPC organizers, we are the future of the language, and thus they want to treat us well

In that vein, I’d like to publicly thank Wendy Van Dijk for taking myself and several other first-time attendees under her wing on Monday night and taking us to dinner with her, Gabor Szabo, and about eight other folks whose names I didn’t catch. Not only did Wendy drag invite us along, she even paid for part of the dinner. Thanks, Wendy, and if we’re ever at another YAPC together, or if I make it to the Netherlands, I hope to be able to reciprocate.

What of the talks? I didn’t take detailed DEFCON level notes on them, but here’s a list of the ones I went to, along with comments as appropriate. Things were structured so that there was a morning ‎plenary‎ session with breakfast (to cover important announcements) and a later afternoon single track of presentations by prominent figures, leading into the 10 minute lightning talks. So I did go to the “Welcome to YAPC” talk as well as Mark Keating’s “The Perl of Christmas Past”, since those were single tracks and the other option was to stand outside and eat pigs in a blanket.

Here’s some of the other stuff I liked. (Slides) indicates that the slides for that talk are available from the linked page at the time I write this. YAPC did live streaming video during the talks, and has a video page where they plan to upload talk videos post-conference:

tl,dr: YAPC 2013 was one of the best events I’ve been to, from both a technical standpoint and an organizational standpoint.

Would I go back? That’s a problem for me. I don’t program in Perl professionally, so I don’t have someone who will pay my way. If I’m paying out of my own pocket, with airfare and hotel it becomes a budget stretch, and I don’t feel like I can afford YAPC, the S&WCA convention, and DEFCON every year. (At the moment, I can’t even afford the latter two this year.)

But next time YAPC is in my backyard (defined as “someplace I can reasonably drive to”) I’ll stay at the Motel 6. Or the Motel 3 1/2.

Thanks again to Wendy, the YAPC 2013 organizers, the good folks at the job fair, the presenters, and anyone else I may have forgotten. (Please feel free to tell me I forgot you in the comments.)

(Subject line hattip.)

4 Responses to “No Sleep Till Sunday.”

  1. Nick Patch says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the conference and my talk. Hope to see you at another YAPC!

  2. [...] Whipped Cream Difficulties – Random notes on YAPC 2013., No Sleep Till Sunday. [...]

  3. lelnet says:

    Next time YAPC is in my neighborhood, I’m DEFINITELY going! :)

    (Be assured, the jealousy remains, even though the con is over.)

    All cons could use Hallway++, even if non-tech ones would need a different name for it.

    There used to be a kindasorta decent approximation of it, at the SF cons I used to go to: hang out in the smoking consuite if you’re interested in conversations with people you don’t already know, vs the non-smoking consuite for cliquey chats with people who are already your friends anyway. Then they banned smoking in hotels in Michigan (the only state where I was ever all that active in fandom), and I stopped going to cons. Not a coincidence. (Then again, they had a smoking consuite at the first Linucon, down there on your turf, but apparently hadn’t imported the same assumptions. Nobody used it. I didn’t go back a second year. Indeed, haven’t been back to Austin since. Not going back to Austin _is_ a coincidence, though. :) )

  4. Perrin Harkins says:

    My lightning talk, “A Fond Goodbye to”, was certainly not meant to be bashing! I was trying to make the case for appreciating what has done for Perl and web development.