A Glimpse of YAPC::Asia Tokyo 2012

So, like my entry on YAPC::Asia Tokyo 2011 last year, I thought I'd give you guys a very brief tour of what it was like this year. Before I start, you can find the full set of photos here, and videos will be uploaded here.

For the last 3 years, we were lucky to have been able to use the same venue at Tokyo Institute of Technology, but for this year we were (again) lucky enough to be able to rent the fabulous Ito International Research Center in University of Tokyo, so we decided to change venues.

This change had two effects: for starters, the venue is operated by a very famous hotel management company, and so the service was just GREAT (check out photos of our social/free dinner below), but on the other hand the costs kinda skyrocketed. Well, we worked hard to raise enough money to cover the costs, and we didn't raise the conference ticket prices so in the end it was fine, but nonetheless...

Anyway enough about the venue. We'd been told to expect a typhoon to pass by Japan anywhere during the 3 day event, but a miracle happened and we were spared from having to hold YAPC during a storm. That also meant that we needed to expect the full list of attendees to arrive, which was, well, a lot.

As I've previously announced, based on ticket sales we had 743 attendees. If you include speakers, we had 798, and if you included the staff it was 841. Seriously, how we managed to pull this off, I'm not sure. But I do believe our efforts in the last 4 years are now starting to pay off.

Swag

This year we have gone over board with all the stuff we made. We made the official YAPC T-shirt, we made two colors for "I gave a lightning talk at YAPC" T-shirt, and for those people who individually sponsored us we made special T-shirts and mugs (seen in the picture above).

Of course, there were a whole bunch of stuff that we got from our 33 sponsors. You can look at all of that on this entry (the page is in Japanese, but you just need to look at the pretty pictures, so no problem :)

Day 0 / RejectConf

Day 0 was RejectConf. We had three talks, and also some snacks for the people to enjoy. Apparently the noise from the crowd was a bit loud, but this Day 0 event is supposed to be a very informal session, so... hopefully it was quiet enough for people to follow the talks.

One particular talk subject that might be of interest to some folks reading this blog is Daisuke Murase (aka typester)'s talk about UV.pm, a binding for libuv. I know several folks were asking me to prod him to release the module to CPAN. Well, apparently it's already up! :) Kudos to YAPC-driven development.


Day 1

It's Day 1! The real deal begins! This year we invited Larry, Tim Bunce, and Adam Kennedy, and as special guest, Ingy.


As the organizer I must confess that I missed all but a few of the talks, and can't quite tell you much about the content, but from what I could see, the operation went very smoothly. It was quite clear that having all the talks in the same building was A Good Thing -- in our previous venue, you had to move from building to building, which was a major constraint.

Aside from the main talks, this year we asked the folks at Hachioji.pm to host this thing called an "LT-thon (i.e. Lightning Talk Marathon), which apparently went very well. So folks just jumped in, one after the other, to talk about just about anything, in a relaxed LT-style during two days. You can check out their photos here

This min-event seemed to work out very well for people who were either too shy to register to the main LT sessions, or those who couldn't get into the rooms or were otherwise wandering the halls until their talk of choice started. A lot of people claimed it was a very good event on their blogs after YAPC.

Lightning Talks Day 1

Lightning Talks are one of the major reasons people come to our YAPC. We had a total of 30 or so speakers. I'm particularly proud that we had a non-techie lady doing a very entertaining talk. I pride that we allow room for newbies and non-perl-gurus to take the stage and make something interesting out of Perl.

This year we also decided to give away T-shirts for LT speakers. Dinosaur with a gong, baby.



Social / Free Dinner

As I said earlier, the dinner was FANTASTIC... or I've heard, since I didn't have a bite :/ See we had way more people coming in than we expected, so I at least tried to help the situation. Of course, it wasn't much when you have THIS many people. But I'm glad that of those that got to the food, they seemed very pleased.


Day 2

While I live in Tokyo, it's kind of a tiring ride to the venue from my apartment to the venue, especially when you have to be there at 8:00 am or 9:00 am, only after spending the entire previous day running around organizing the event (even more so because I have a new born baby), so I stayed at a nearby hotel.

I was so expecting the typhoon to hit us, but we managed to dodge it again, and in fact we had a very very sunny delightful day for the last day of YAPC::Asia Tokyo 2012.

So here goes Day 2!

During the morning, one of the talks that I was personally pleased to have was Mr. Kondo's talk / master course about Perl's context (scalar, list) and references. We were in desperate need for newbie material but not too many people are qualified / motivated enough like Mr. Kondo, who is the translator for "Learning Perl". It was a pleasure to have him, and I hope that these kind of "basic" material keep on showing up at the future YAPCs.

Lunch Match-up

As you may know, Japanese people are very shy. It's kind of hard to have 800 random people to come to the venue and immediately be able to kick off a conversation with somebody standing near you. So this year we had this thing to match up people and send them off to lunch. We even pay for the meal!


This is how it worked: During the morning, you get a raffle (-ish) ticket from this lady over here. At the beginning of lunch time, everybody gathers at the reception area, and we chose random tickets to form 5 groups of four people. They could go anywhere: just fill in and bring back a very simple questionnaire, and upon receipt, we just pay each person 1000 JPY for the lunch. The questionnaire had simple questions to introduce themselves, so they could easily start up the conversation. We haven't compiled the results / feedback yet, but based on the number of people who showed up, I believe this was worth doing as well.

The first event after lunch was the panel discussion with Miyagawa, Atsushi Kobayashi (aka nekokak), Tokuhiro Matsuno (aka tokuhirom), and Naoya Ito. They are all very famous Japanese hackers, and they talked about some history of Perl/YAPC/tech with Mr. Fuon who moderated the talk.

This was done in part because we have seen many new comers to YAPC in the recent years who may not know the context in which YAPC and Perl have been evolving.

Lightning Talks Day2

I had to make many improptu change of schedule for both Lightning Talk slots, but I believe I chose and ordered them well. Of those, I suggest you look at "Everybody Loves Suspenders", and "Perl 1 + 1 Stress Test", which I think are very interesting to see even if you don't speak Japanese (once videos are uploaded, I will link them here)



Heading towards the end

I'm generally of the opinion that techies MUST learn enough English to at least listen to talks, but the closing talk for YAPC::Asia Tokyo is a bit of special case. Throughout our history, we had "spiritual talks" (not as in religion, but as in motivational and stuff) at this slot, and while code speaks for itself, these sort of talks are much harder for non-natives.

So the previous three YAPCs we've purposely selected highly regarded persons to finish off the show. This year it was Gosuke Miyashita (aka mizzy), with his talk about how Perl changed his life, complete with a chance to publicly tell Larry "thank you" :)

Best Talk Awards

I gave my closing talk, very briefly. I know people were already tired, and they wanted to go grab something to eat and drink. We had the Best Talk Awards again this year, which is a chance to win some cool prizes, based on the attendees' votes. The goal of this is not only to say "thanks" to the speakers who spend so much effort putting good talks, but also to give something that will help them learn and write more code :)


Tatsuro Hisamori got the third place prize: A whole bunch of tech books that were on display during YAPC. Hopefully he will be able to put them to good use.

Second place as, Miyagawa. I don't know how/if he's going to manage it, but his prize is three trips within Japan to attend local pm meetups. Even though he now lives in San Francisco, I'm sure he will find time to go to these places :)

Yusuke Wada, got the first prize for Best Talk Awards. He is famous for running many cool services. The prize was to send him to either YAPC::EU or YAPC::NA next year, so expect to see this guy next year at your nearby YAPC!

Closing

So that was that. Now it was time to end the show. This year I tried to lay out what I'd like YAPC::Asias in the future to look like.

I want it to be open, welcoming. I don't want make it a place where only Perl's old boys group up and talk about the Perl world as they know. I want it to be a place where people who (loosely) share the Perl philosophy to talk about tech and exchange the latest and coolest ideas. I want people from other communities to come in: maybe share how cool their tech is, and show us what we're missing, or the other way around and talk about features or ideas that they would like to steal from Perl.

I want to share the greatness that this community I love has to offer, and I want it to keep on growing, evolving, and becoming better as time goes by. YAPC should be that kind of place.

And finally, we had 43 great people to help run the show. They are not paid (except we buy them lunch and host an after party), so they are there just to bring this great show for you. Thank you guys, you rock.

Oh and of course, thanks for my partner in crime, Kushii-san. Without him, there would be no YAPC::Asia Tokyo since 3 years ago :)

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About lestrrat

user-pic Japan Perl Association director; Livedoor, Inc; Tokyo, Japan