Leader of Birmingham.pm [pm.org] and a CPAN author [cpan.org]. Co-organised YAPC::Europe in 2006 and the 2009 QA Hackathon, responsible for the YAPC Conference Surveys [yapc-surveys.org] and the QA Hackathon [qa-hackathon.org] websites. Also the current caretaker for the CPAN Testers websites and data stores.
If you really want to find out more, buy me a Guinness
Alas I won't be speaking at this year's YAPC::Europe, as unfortunately my two talks have been deemed too long
It'll be the first time since 2003 that I haven't presented at a YAPC::Europe event, and means I get to go to talks without worrying about making sure I've prepared my own talk. Plus if I do end up going under my own steam, then I can pick and choose the talks I go to, without feeling obligated to go to ones that I think would be relavent to work. When I first went to the YAPC::Europe conferences (all 4 from 2000-2003) I paid for myself and had much more fun getting to know people. For a good while I could actually hide in anonymity and just feel part of the audience. And to be fair it's the audience we should be thinking about, so may be it'll be good to have that perspective again.
A large proportion of the attendees know each other these days, but there are also plenty who don't know anyone. While we are always getting new attendees, they don't always come back. We're obviously reaching people outside of the echo chamber, but are we reaching the right people? To a large degree I think we are, but I wonder whether there are other ways of reaching and encouraging people, who are currently doing Perl, and are not part of the community. In some cases I suspect they just see their work as a job and wouldn't be that interested in doing anything further anyway, as I've come across those kinds of people in many jobs I've had before. However, its the people who are likely to be interested, and perhaps haven't yet discovered that there is a lot of benefit to be had from attending YAPC events, not just to attend talks, but also to meet developers and get involved with the community, that I'm interested in reaching.
I've yet to figure out how that can be done, but I'm hoping that those new to the conferences, take the surveys and give us feedback as to things that we can do to encourage them come back. As well as getting them to tell their firends and colleagues what a great experience the event was. After all word of mouth counts for a lot. If they're getting a bad experience, and I doubt that that is the case, it would be useful to know that, and hopefully then we can try and fix it for the future. So far feedback has been very positive, and although there are often minor gripes about little details, in the main organisers do get it right. I've certainly enjoyed every YAPC I've attended, I'm just hoping we can encourage others to get the most out of them too.
For the last few years I have also been attending other grassroot Open Source conferences, such as LUGRadio Live, GUADEC and to a lesser extent the UKUUG. These all have a similar kind of approach to conferences as YAPCs, but they are often much better attendeed. They do have the benefit that they can encompass more than just one language, so from that angle they can expect to have a bigger attendance. However, I still regularly meet Perl programmers who are either more involved with LUG events or just aren't aware of the Perl community. Is there a better way to reach these people? Do they advertise better than we do for YAPCs? Something to ponder over at least.