A few thoughts about Richmond Code Camp

I know I moved technology off to my other blog, but I wanted to quickly post something about the recent Richmond Code  Camp I went to, since it focuses more on a local conference than tech topics.

Last saturday, I got up early and went to Richmond Code Camp 2009.1, pretty excited about some of the sessions I planned on attending. I spent most of the day there, but left after the 3rd session, mainly to being bored out of my mind. First, let me state this – there are some BRILLIANT minds there, and it was a great oportunity to see people I knew and network with others.  I won’t go into too many details, I doubt i’ll be wasting another saturday like this again. Obviously, keep in mind this is just my opinion, and that if you feel that even ONE SESSION is worth it to you, you MUST sign up.

Pros:

  • Awesome topics, and if anything, you get to learn and discuss these in a social setting, which is often nicer than trying to learn it alone searching Google.
  • Amazing people – I got to meet a few new people while there, but also got to hang out with an old coworker and catch up with her between sessions and during lunch.
  • Very close – at least I barely had to travel for this.
  • Free lunch.
  • Most sessions demoed code in C#

Cons:

  • To short of classes, or to broad of topics to cover. Only one of my sessions actually covered what they planned to discuss, while the others totally missed the spot. As in, told you about half the information, and didn’t even come close to tying it up. I heard this from many other attendees as well. Also, some presenters ignored the ‘end times’ for classes. One of mine was knocked about 10 minutes due to the previous presenter running way over time.
  • To much reliance on PowerPoints. This is a flaw within itself, but why not also distribute the PowerPoints before (or as a handout) in the class as well, espc. if you won’t get to everything.
  • Do NOT ever put XML on a PowerPoint and read it out to everyone. FOR. MULTIPLE. SLIDES. I am not kidding, one of my sessions was exactly this.
  • If you are presenting, and have a personal blog, you may want to keep some thoughts personal. For example, dont talk crap about the session you were asked to present at, then advertise your URL. I know we all think it, but I feel that pretty much threw out any ‘professional’ idea I had about the presenter.
  • In each of my sessions, which were about an hour long, at least 5-10 of that was spent talking up their personal companies, blogs, twitter accounts, almost like advertising before a movie. I understand this may be a perk of teaching, but I think thats digging a bit to far into the presentation. 
  • I think the topics are to far reaching as well. Obviously some of the topics chosen are near impossible to discuss within an hour. Why even waste the time on them? The best use of this time would be to 1) split the topics up more, 2) find easier or more direct topics, 3) maybe even include more group discussion time rather than teaching. 
  • Groups of topics should even be more separated. For example, tracks for: Project Management, DBA’s, Developers, Web workers, other. Then, really narrow down those groups even more. For example, some of the PM topics should be so focused, that a developer should not need to go. A DBA session should be so focused that a Web Developer doesn’t need to go to it as well. 

I still admire everyone that spoke at the event. Ive been there, done that. Its not fun, and it can be very stressful. Espc. for ‘geek types’, where public speaking scares the hell out of you (at least it does for me). 

This event really seems on the cusp of being something great. It felt like this could have easily been a conference they could charge (though it would go against the rules of a Code Camp). But with becoming so large, so quick, it just feels very ‘Busch League‘. This events size really dilutes the information you can get from it.

 I also don’t get that with SO many people attending, there is VERY little being Blogged/Twittered about it. Yes, there was some chatter, but not as much as one would expect from an event so large. Heck, I decided NOT to twitter nearly at ALL during the event, since it seemed like no one else was! Why be so quiet. There’s so much GREAT THINGS going on there, why not share?

I do plan on going to the first WordCampRVA next weekend, and can not wait. Im expecting this to be a HUGE event with some of the people speaking. Its pretty awesome that we have so many opportunities to share so much knowledge in this wonderful city.

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2 thoughts on “A few thoughts about Richmond Code Camp

  1. Sounds like they’re off to a great start, but have lots of room to improve. I ha e a sneaking suspicion WordCamp will be the same way haha. I’m looking forward to it though! You present some great ideas for Code Camp in the post… why not get involved in its organization next year? 🙂 Seriously! I think you could really bring some great stuff to the table.

  2. You know, I was actually going to ask them when the next one comes, except I have NO clue what to talk about. I really would love to share stuff though, i hate to complain when I can’t do much to make it better. Maybe ill start coming up with some ideas so when the time comes, im ready to go. I actually follow/know quite a few people I saw there, and always felt like I was in great company.

    As with WordCamp, Im very psyched. From seeing a lot of people talking about it, I think its going to have an amazing cross section of topics and people from around Richmond.

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