YAPC::NA, the largest American Perl conference, is taking place in Orlando from June 23rd to the 25th. I’m going to be speaking on Working with Volunteers, and since the YAPC::NA schedule is now up I am thrilled to discover that I’ll be speaking on the first day. The schedule is not complete yet. I’ve been looking at it regularly, waiting for the addition of the keynote that is going to be given by Charlie Stross, which I’m really looking forward to hearing. It’s not listed yet but I have seen both the conference organizers and @cstross tweet about it, so I’m fairly sure it’s going ahead.
I’m pleased to see that there will be a VIP Reception on the Monday evening. This event was created to welcome first and second time attendees to the conference and create a way for them to be introduced to other people. After recently being at a conference where I didn’t really know anyone I know how difficult it can be to meet and speak to other attendees. And I’m not the only one. Ricardo, the Perl 5 Pumpking, wrote the following in a recent post about attending a conference where he knew only one person:
The most difficult part of the conference, for me, was socializing. Out of the hundred-odd attendees, I knew one — Mark — who was only there on the second day. I found it difficult to strike up conversations with a bunch of complete strangers, although I did try. In fact, I had a number of nice conversations, but it was difficult and uncomfortable to get started. I’m not sure whether there’s anything to be done about that, but it didn’t help that it seemed like half of the conference attendees knew each other already.
This experience really made me think again about YAPC and other conferences that I attend where I already know half the attendees and, even if I don’t, am in a privileged position by virtue of my position within the community. Remember, fellow conference veterans: go talk to the new people and make them feel welcome. It’s important.
I’m leaving for America soon and I need to decide what I’m taking with me. I’m tempted to bring a board game, for the YAPC::NA Game Night, but I’m not sure that I have room in my suitcase. I also need to finish my talk as I really should take that with me. I’ve been working on it today, but haven’t quite gotten to where I feel comfortable with it. I still have time, and thankfully, unlike the last conference I attended, I’m not expected to hand in my slides in advance.