Last week I participated in ALT.Net Seattle, which was quite interesting. It used the same open spaces format as most ALT.Net conference, and I can honestly say that it was a good experience to most of the attendees.
It did not, however, had the same style of interaction. One of the things that I really enjoyed in the previous ALT.Net conferences is the level of interaction and participation. In this instance, I think that a majority of the people arrived mostly to soak in the information. That changed the dynamics of the conference, and it was quite visible in all the sessions that I was part of.
Just to be clear, I am not saying that it was bad, or that you must participate, I am pointing out a difference between the current conference and the previous ones.
I think that something like that is inevitable as the community grows, because at this stage in the game we are moving from the early adopters to the pragmatists. The problem is that we are currently in that gap, where the ideas only begin to go through:
It is my hope that when we finish cross this chasm, we will be able to return back to the same style of interaction that we have had in the past. The problem is, as I see it, that currently too many of the attendees felt uncomfortable to speak. Once again it was the case of the best conversations happening in the hallways and at dinners, when people could relax.
I think that as we see the people in the wider community gain experience and confidence, we will go back into the same vibrant discussions and learning. In the meanwhile, I intend to do my best to push the community forward toward that time.
It was a good conference, even if the highlight for me was the air hockey table talk.