Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On the inside of the NDC Oslo agenda committee

How many developers do you need to create the NDC Oslo agenda? 
You need 7 developers locked in a room for ~22 hours, spread across 2 days (yes, we needed to sleep). 
We started out with ~800 abstracts, which meant we had to cut approximately 9 out of 10 abstracts. Yikes! Armed with lots and lots of strange, British sweets (thanks, Liam) and coffee, we started out highly motivated and ready to make some difficult decisions. It turns out, round one does not include that many hard decisions. 
Round one consists of reading all the abstracts (yes, all ~800 of them...) and vote as we go along. If most or all of the committe say yes, or if a couple of committe members really want to fight for this abstract, it's put on "the wall". "The wall" is a large empty wall that slowly fills up with abstracts placed into columns based on categories. Apparently, we're not that good at creating categories as our wall ended up looking like this: 

So far, so good right? Except when you realize you've been at it for 8 hours straight and you still have 502 abstracts left to read. Ouch. That's when you start to work faster, become A LOT more critical and Niall becomes bossy (in a good way, of course).
Four more hours, and we're back on track again: 

The second day was round two. It was spent tearing abstracts off the wall, and this is where is started to get difficult. Not only do 7 developers have to agree, but you need to find the right balance between the different categories. Not too many overlapping subjects, not too many talks by the same speaker, not too many VB talks (kidding...). And then you need to make sure you include the right amount of new speakers, female speakers, funny speakers, known speakers etc.

So what have I learned from all this? I've learned never again to be disappointed if I don't get accepted to speak at a conference. Being cut does not mean that your abstract sucks and it certainly does not mean that you're not a good enough speaker! It's simply bad luck.

Creating an agenda for a large conference such as NDC is hard work. Imagine you're given access to the greatest minds in the industry and you're told to build a robot. The possibilities are endless, and while we ended up with a robot we're extremely proud of, someone else might have created a completely different robot using the same tools.

The agenda is to be released today. So don't be bummed if you're not accepted, instead you should submit your abstract to several more conferences and your luck will come.

I'm very grateful for being allowed in on the committee (I kind of invited myself), and I'd like to thank Programutvikling for making this awesome conference come alive. I'd also like to thank the rest of the agenda committe for making 2 days stuck in a room with 6 guys such an enjoyable experience!

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