The agenda for the Michigan Oak Table Symposium is online now and looking at it brings to mind a couple of pub discussions I've had
lately with those who have never attended a conference and can't see the
benefits as well as those who have thought about it and wondered what it's like.
I reckon MOTS would be a great introduction to the best that conferences have to
Condensed technical learning format.
It's not a course.
Although I know that would be a big plus to many people I know who despair at spending 5 days out of the office for half a day's worth of new stuff they learn, I still think there's a place for courses, reading books and learning stuff properly rather than just trawling around Google or asking questions on Twitter and making it up as you go along. However, if you've already learnt some stuff properly, then a conference is a great way to pick up a few salient points that you might not come across otherwise and then dig around properly yourself when you get back home or to the office. The fact that this particular conference requires only two days of your time is a bonus (but I'll come back to that below ...)
Networking / Interaction
It might not be obvious these days, but in the past I could think of nothing worse than 'Networking', believe me! Friends would tell you I can still do a neat disappearing act But whether it's conversations at work, online, or at conferences, if you never discuss anything with like-minded people, how will your knowledge grow? Even attending presentations and deciding they weren't very good is an interesting experience and, should that happen to you, it might inspire you to participate to make things better! One thing's sure in my mind ... I never thought I'd say this, but participating has had a positive effect on me I couldn't imagine.
The great thing about MOTS, like Hotsos and the Miracle events, is that with 300 attendees, you're guaranteed lots of interaction with smart attendees and presenters.
This one is extremely important to me at the moment. Someone said to me recently they could understand how conferences might work better for me because I know 'the crowd' or something similar. I've blogged plenty of times in the past about my aversion to elitism (wish I could be bothered digging out some links!) and it worries me that people might not want to 'join in' because there's some exclusive club with a bouncer at the door. So, let's get this straight.
There probably is a crowd of people who attend conferences and know each other. There's an Oak Table Network, the Oracle ACEs, the UKOUG and Hotsos hard-core massive, etc, etc, etc. However, every single one of those groups is populated by people who turned up at a conference the first time by themselves, mostly pretended they were wall-paper (I'm sure there are exceptions ) and gradually got to know a few faces, picked their own mates and bumped into them again the next time and had fun. It's been one of the surprises of my life that I've made a bunch of new, proper friends by attending a couple of conferences.
Could you get this stuff via blogs? Yes, probably,
but are you really taking the time to read all those posts, or are they tucked
away to be read at a later date that never quite arrives?
Anyone who has attended an external training event knows the value of getting away from the desk and the mail and the phone for a couple of days and just focussing on technical stuff. We are still working in a technical field, aren't we?
Oops! This turned into more of a rant than I planned So, what's my point?
The Early Registration rate is $450 which is £300
or 335 Euro. Let me see. How much do Oracle tend to charge for a 2-day course
with yours truly? About 1500 Euro or something like that? (Tread carefully, Doug, you do want to work for Oracle University again! LOL) OK, you probably need to invest 3 days
holiday on MOTS if you're travelling from outside the US and your employed won't spring for it but, why not give it a try? If you try it once and absolutely hate it, then fair enough, but I keep encouraging people to go to conferences, they go and then they have a great time and learn something too. They feel inspired again.
My point is ... just come along. It's 2 days of your life spent with a couple of hundred other people who are just like you. Actually, that's a lie. There might only be 6 people who are like you, but in that case, I bet you'd struggle to find even 6 somewhere else! LOL. Conferences are the real reason I know Kurt, Marco, Alex, Carol, Lisa, Graham, Jonathan ... (blah, blah, blah ... it could go on forever and I wish I hadn't started a list!)
Look - here's the registration link. Your call. I tried
Do you know what I'd really like next? I rarely beg for comments (which I find irritating) but to add weight to my possibly biased voice, if anyone who has attended a conference recently has found it better or worse than expected, maybe your voice would be more important than mine here?
P.S. At least it got me out of Part 6 of the Stats blogs (Although I know one or two people in the office who'll be looking for an apology, having been lead up the garden path on this one!)
P.P.S. Private message for Raj ... It's 2 days! It has a speaker list not dissimilar to Hotsos! You could fly on Wed night and still be back with your family on Friday night! We could have beer. I'm sure your employer would be amenable to this educational opportunity
or I could create a fuss on your behalf! LOL
P.P.P.S. Yeah, I know ... Stats Part 6. Really, I know. It's coming ...