One great feature of the new conference website software O’Reilly is using this year (developed by my co-chair Edd Dumbill) is the “Personal Schedule”. When you’re surfing the schedule or any list of talks you can click the star beside it to add it to a private list. During the conference you can quickly view your list to make sure you don’t miss any talks you want to see.
The aggregate data from all the personal schedules also helps the conference organizers. One classic problem in scheduling a conference program is predicting which talks will draw a large crowd and need a large room, and which talks will fit in a smaller room. No matter how hard you try, it’s common to end up with at least one session in a small room packed to the gills and overflowing into the hallway, and at least one session in a big room attended by 25 people. With the personal schedule data, we can track the popularity of a talk before the conference and swap the “hot” sessions into larger rooms. I’ve already moved up “Do You Believe in the Users?” by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick, and am keeping an eye on several other popularity spikes: “Skimmable Code: Fast to Read, Safe to Change” by Michael Schwern, “Top 10 Scalability Mistakes” by John Coggeshall, and “Even Faster Web Sites” by Steve Souders. If you take a moment to mark off the sessions you plan to attend before the conference, you can join in the power of collective intelligence, applied to improve your conference experience.
And don’t forget, the Early Registration discount ends next Monday, June 2nd.