Reflection, part two

In my first post on Friday I reflected on the fact that this year’s London Perl Workshop was the fourth event that I had organised, in this post I want to talk about this year after the event and some elements around it.

If you build it…

In preparing for this year’s conference I built upon some of the lessons of previous years. The first element I conquered was to start the organisation, especially in regards to the venue and the sponsors, at an early stage. there is really no early date for this, if you start to organise the following year while the event is ongoing in the previous year you are doing a good job. The venue is a fixed element that is essential for any further promotion as it gives your time and location. This will help in gaining the sponsors as they will be able to target their needs and any surrounding advertisment to your event. So do it early.

Building on that thought, advertise, promote, push. You have to keep the event fresh in people’s minds and spoon them as much information as you can, though you also walk a very fine line between being interesting and boring, annoying and alienating your audience and any potentially new people. It is a very fine line, trying to give as much new information while still keeping any concurrent details fresh in people’s minds is a difficult balance.

I think, aside from one or two over-enthusiastic mail list postings, I managed to increase the promotion without becoming victim to this issue. I am aware however that I have to start the whole process again now for next year.

I’m going to have myself a real good time…

Over the past few years we have managed to increase the size of the audience at the London Perl Workshop, aside from last year whose many elements caused a major issue in number calculations that bucked the trend it has risen year on year. The number was between 140-175 persons who attended on the day, but the increased promotion and change of conference format to incorporate more beginner tracks and training seems to have paid off dividends this year. We had over 250+ persons attend on the day, some of them attending on either the morning or afternoon and some stayed the whole day and into the late evening.

 

People signing in at registration

People signing in at registration

This figure is a conservative estimate, we had 280+ signed up on the website and many people arrived who had not pre-registered.

Sign of the times

One issue that arose from this was that there was a large amount of over-subscribed talks, for the most part we were able to accommodate the extra numbers, but some people ended up disappointed as they were unable to attend the talks they had placed on their personal schedule.

Another issue was with signs. Although I had extra signs printed for the event the vast number of people and the five different rooms caused some confusion so that a few people went to the wrong room.

Signs on the wall

The confusing signs that we apparently proliferated confusion with

We have plans to make sure that doesn’t happen next year.

Time after time…

There are always people who volunteer their help for the London Perl Workshop. Some of these people return year after year and do so unfailingly. One such person is Dave Cross who returns each year to do a presentation, tutorial or workshop for the conference. Ian Norton also ran a workshop for new beginners to Perl and aimed at learning together, Ian is a regular volunteer and really took the challenge of bringing Perl to new people to heart and created a great workshop from It. The other workshops/training by Miyagawa and Gabor, although sponsored, were fantastic events and greatly appreciated that these busy and important people could give up their time. Lastly a huge thanks to Andrew Solomon for creating an introductory workshop to Dancer that was similarly well received.

 

Ian Norton hard at work training people

Ian Norton hard at work training people

But there is also Chris Jackson, Steve Sexton, Léon Brocard (did I manage to get the spelling remotely correct this time?), Avi Greenbury, Tom Doran, Martin Brooks, Leigh Keating (+Ben, +Bump), Billy Abbot, Sean Tohill, Mike Whitaker, Jess Robinson, Leo Lapworth, David Dorward and many others who helped in large ways and small, and as the saying goes they do it “time after time”.

I could talk for some time about the speakers, about the high quality of their presentations, about how some of them are insane and actually indulge in conference-driven development. But I know there are tweets and blogs being written about them and I encourage you to seek them out, the first to get the word our was by Dave Precious, http://www.preshweb.co.uk/2011/11/lpw2011-my-thoughts-overall/, who works for one of the Sponsors and turned up with (Jim, James, Jimmy and Jock (or Jim, James, Dave and Ross as they are also known)) to the event.

There are also our sponsors. Some of these return each year and are a constant mainstay, without whom this event would be so much less than it is. I can hardly contemplate them not being with us, they are amazing and this year I asked more from them and I received it with good will and good wishes. So to:

  • antibodyMX
  • Booking.com
  • Bytemark::Hosting
  • Dotcloud.com
  • Enlightened Perl Organisation
  • Exonetric
  • Magnum Solutions
  • Moonfruit
  • Net-A-Porter
  • O’Reilly
  • Shadowcat Systems Limited
  • SurVoip
  • University of Westminster
  • UK2.net

Thank you so very much for your support, thanks to those of you who sent sponsor items, who attended, who sent staff and who did presentations. A big thanks to O’Reilly for once again turning up with a great selection of books and fantastic deals for the day.

Please sir, can I have some more…

One of the great things about a workshop, and I find it is common to most open source or Creative Commons linked technical workshops, is the quality of the topics you find in the hallway tracks and social events around them. The London Perl Workshop now seems to have acquired a tradition of a social event involving sponsored amber nectars after the day, and we have also incorporated coffee and cakes, sponsored food and a wealth of other tiny elements of excellence in this to further enhance this social phenomena.

The numbers of people this year led to the unwanted (yet also excellent) position of the food and drink disappearing in record time and quantities, something we will have to consider for next year if we want to continue to offer this service or organise an equivalent appropriate element.

 

Outside the social venue for lunch

Outside the social venue for lunch

 

Yesterday’s forgotten the morning after…

So the conference is over for another year…well not really.

There is the Conference Survey to fill out. If you registered for the conference a link would have been sent to you to fill out so that we can get feedback and work out plans for next year. The survey also helps the speakers to know how to pitch their talks, or improve and adapt them and their performance for future years.

Then there is the processing of photographs, of which I have posted some on flickr: http://link.shadow.cat/tAIlJf and Facebook: http://link.shadow.cat/ugpGwE – and while you are there you might like to “share” or “like” the Facebook page for the event which will be updated with news throughout the year.

Lastly there is the videos, which must be ripped, cut, edited and processed and then uploaded to the internet for you who were not there to enjoy, or for you to watch again and relive and share a fond memory. They will be uploaded to http://www.presentingperl.org in due course.

So for your friendly organiser and his fellow volunteers the job is not yet over…

Also, as I said at the start of this piece we now start the whole process off again, part of that is the winding down of this year’s conference and the reporting on its events and impact and making sure, as I hope I have, to thank all those involved in the event. For the rest, let me announce that the London Perl Workshop 2012…will be next year :).

–mdk