5 petites questions autour de la conférence, les dessous de Devoxx et son avenir.
Je n’ai pas traduit le texte en français pour à la fois ne pas altérer le contenu et aussi… pour gagner du temps car une nouvelle fois il se fait tard donc je vous laisse avec Stephan !
Web Tambouille : Devoxx 2010 is completely sold out (3000) ! It’s already a big success, how can you explain that ? Is it only sessions quality or something else ?
Stephan Janssen : I think one of the main reasons that it’s sold out is that’s because first of all it’s very cheap, I mean it’s 550€ for 5 days, just compare that with other conferences : they are 4 times or 5 times more expensive ! So that’s a big one especially when the economy is not going well. My biggest concern this year was of course that we were so close to JavaOne but it seems that there was a positive impact because there were a lot of people who didn’t think that JavaOne would work and so they skipped it and choose to go to devoxx instead. So that really help. And of course : the line up of the speakers. I think one of the big difference is that we try to hand the speakers : we hand-pick the guru, the spec leads, the authors and so on. We have a program committee with about 10 people who all have their own specialities so they can really know, for example for NoSQL with Steven NOELS, who he should invite in his NoSQL space and then find those speakers. Of course they are lot’s of speakers who almost comes as regulars rock star speakers like Romain GUY and Chet HAASE they always welcome to speak and they often do. So that really helps. That’s why we have so many people. This year, it was sold out 3 weeks in advance and I think that just have a positive impact for next year because people will start to register very soon and we will just get sold out sooner as well.
WT : There are lot’s of NoSQL slot and less about alternative JVM language especially Clojure which is not here. Why (NoSQL) and why (alternative) ?
SJ : So last year we had Howard Lewis Ship doing a Clojure talk and this clojure talk was the most views on Parley’s in the 2009 channel. So I tough we already discovered what is Clojure. For me, I think it’s still a niche. It’s not really mainstream so that’s we said we had clojure last year so we will try to focus a bit more on NoSQL. So NoSQL is, since 18 month, really being more and more active so we are really interested in NoSQL and also the cloud stuff. That’s really a big theme this year. And again we have Steven NOELS driving that so he was able to get the Cassandra, MongoDB, CouchDB, Hadoop people and also people from Facebook and LinkedIn and so on. So we really had quite a lot of new speakers and new topics given a bit of a fresh type of new content in this organization of Devoxx. It’s also important because we need to reinvent every year and find new speakers and not always have the same speakers that come back and back and back. So yeah, I think that’s one of the main reason why NoSQL is so dominant this year.
WT : There are lot’s of great speakers in this 2010 edition, but again some speakers do not come to Devoxx for different reasons. Is it something you think about ? Make them come ?
SJ : Actually this year, I invited Martin Fowler to Devoxx. But he can speak every day in every city and all around the world. So he likes to really select a few conferences and Devoxx does not really fit in his schedule. Another thing that we don’t do is that we don’t pay the speakers. So that of course might play also for specific speakers that will do this on a professional basis. We do cover some traffic and living especially if they come from far but not all of them because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to organize it. But yeah he is one of my top want listed speaker I would like to have but if he is not interested and he doesn’t want to come I can’t really force him. Gavin King has talked here a few times. Each year I see him at JavaOne and ask “Gavin, do you want to come over” but he thinks it’s to cold in november at Antwerpen so he prefers to go to warmer countries (smile). There are some other speakers but the fact that we don’t pay you to speak and we only pay the travel and living, for some it’s less interesting. But I must say : the reason why we do get quite a bit of other very very good speakers is that : well, we have 3000 people attending, it’s a great venue but also there are multiple speakers who are really motivated to come to Devoxx because we record the talks and make them available on Parley’s. So I know Bill Venners has a talk, OK he had maybe 1000 people on the room but after there is already 50000 people who have viewed his talk online. So for those types of speakers and for many, it’s an extra motivation to come over here because they can use that talk as a promotion ! So they are not actually scared, on the contrary it’s motivation. And it’s the same for attendees because they see videos on Parley’s and they go like “Woah, the next year I want to go there as well” because I would like to see it live instead of on my PC. So it’s marketing and it works both way in that perspective.
WT : Devoxx is getting more and more perfect, what will you do to improve the next 2011 edition ? Any ideas for now ?
SJ : Every year we try to find and fix something which got broken or whatever. And this year I think we finally got the wireless working upstairs. We spent 3 times more budget for the wireless so we have quite a bit of expensive hardware now doing this. We have about a 140 megabytes connection to the internet and for the moment (tuesday 16th) we only are using 45%. So I think for a bandwidth perspective we are fine. The only thing that I know which I want to improve next year is to have the exhibition floor also connected to the same load balancer that we are using upstairs. So the exhibition floor is on an island, there are using their own cable modem and it’s not connected to the one upstairs because I wanted to physically separate them. But next year we could really actually merge them together and then even the exhibition will have fluent wifi. To give you an idea, yesterday (monday 15th) they used about 60 megabytes which is the maximum for the exhibition floor and only 400 people out of the 1500 people actually go online upstairs. So we can go a lot higher, I mean tomorrow we would have 2500 people so we can probably go 220 megabytes and we still have another 20 or 30 megabytes on the bandwidth. So I think we are fine, for me that was a big one. Another thing, and a very new thing this year which I announce this morning, is the live streaming of the keynotes. So tomorrow, the keynotes of wednesday but also tuesday and friday will be streamed live throw Parley’s. So if you go throw Parley’s, you could actually get your subscription to the talks online that we’ve done for 12 month. But as a bonus, for the people who are not here but have taken a subscription, they will be able to view the keynotes live. And we do quite a lot of investment to have 16/9 really nice video. So that’s a nice improvement. If that works well, which it should because we tested it, we might do next year a Devoxx TV channel from monday to friday with non-stop talks ! Just one talk at a time but available for all the people who are not here and can’t see it live. Of course, after 7 days, all the talks will be published. So that something I would like to do new for next year. For that’s done, we work a lot on it and the formula works so I don’t know if I have to change something too much. But if there are any suggestions or ideas, we are always very open. Twitter, email or whatever.
WT : Something you want to tell/add ?
SJ : Just to say that it takes 8 month of preparation to make this happen. We have a great team, the program committee, the people doing the administration… And it was really nice to see that everybody had paid their entrance fee 3 days before the conference started, everything was paid for the attendees and that helps a lot. So I think an important message I would like to pass to the audience is that : if you want to attend next year’s Devoxx, make sure that you register really in advance ! Because if it’s sold out, I cannot make much for you.
WT : Thank you very much Stephan !
SJ : Your welcome ;-)