The Perl Conference - what is new?
Before I say anything, I must say, I am who I am today because of the wonderful Perl Community. I have been attending London Perl Workshop since 2012. Ever since I have seen plenty of improvements as far as the quality of talks, venue management and other activities.
However there is one thing I still see missing all these years unfortunately. I am saying these based on my personal experience. I still remember my first time at LPW, I got to see all the greats physically other than all the great talks. When I came back from the event, I tried to analyse what I liked most and what I missed. One thing I missed was that I didn't get to say "Hi" to my idols present there. I noticed a pattern in all these events, people trying to catch up with their friends group. I am not saying there is anything wrong in it. Think from the "First Timers" point, he would never come to you and say "Hi", breaking the conversation you are having with your colleagues. Now look at the "Old Timers" point, how would anyone know who is "First Timers"? There, I think, the organizer can help with this situation like:
- If the event is ticket based, then probably we can set aside few places (5 or more) just for "First Timers". On the day of registration, provide them some kind of sticker so others can identify them.
- If the event is free for all, like LPW, we could even provide "new comer sticker" or specially design "welcome T-shirt".
This would help other to start conversation with "First Timers" and make them feel comfortable. I remember few years ago at LPW, Mark Keating distributed Perl books to "First Timers". That was really great move. Even once, I don't remember the exact year, every registered attendee received personalized mug by "Bytemark". I still have mine and I use it every day. Unfortunately it is no longer done after that.
I have seen the inseparable famous couple "Liz and Wendy" every time I attended LPW but never got the courage to say "hi". It was only during the last German Perl Workshop, the "Liz and Wendy" went out of their way and make me feel comfortable and welcome. One morning, they even invited me to have breakfast with them. By just spending quality time with greats like them makes a huge difference, I can tell you from my own experience.
I am looking forward to meet them (and many more friends from German Perl Workshop) again at The Perl Conference in Glasgow
I think the event organizer can also set aside an hour long (or may be more) informal session of "First Timers" with a panel of Who's Who and help them break the ice. Keep it informal and not like a lecture session. I would take it even a step further, if any "First Timers" would like to stay in touch with some "Senior" as mentor. Then we should help them and encourage to ask questions if they have any.
There are many people who have contributed to my growth in the recent past. I would like to mention two names, in particular, one is Neil Bowers and other is Gabor Szabo. Surprisingly I have never met Gabor in person, still he has been a great motivator for me.
If you are attending "The Perl Conference" in Glasgow next week then please do come and say "hi".