MySQL Camp Unconference News

So, there has been quite a bit of interest so far in MySQL Camp, being held on November 10th through 12th in Silicon Valley. The venue is yet to be decided, but there have been a number of options on the table, including possibly Yahoo!, the University of Palo Alto, and, more recently, some talks with friends over at Google. Also, the proposed session topics are filling in nicely, with a nice mix of technical and non-technical content.

Also, I’ve had a number of people contact me to inquire what exactly is this whole MySQL camp thing about. So I thought I would share some thoughts about what the event is and is not, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept.

MySQL Camp is an unconference, as opposed to a formal, highly planned conference. In my mind, the defining characteristics of an unconference are:

  • Open to all, free to attend
  • Organized by and for the participants, so sessions are proposed and presented that participants really want to learn about
  • A focus on participation; participants are expected to get their hands dirty, not be afraid to ask questions, and to be creative
  • Sponsorship of the event is informal, and the level and type of sponsorship is left up to the sponsor themselves. Creativity is a must here 🙂
  • The agenda is fluid and dynamic. Sessions pop up spontaneously at the event as topics are discussed and explored. No single organizer nor small group of organizers should dominate the agenda

And these are the principles that I hope will guide the upcoming MySQL camp and future camps.

As an example of sponsorship creativity, I’ve been talking with Julie Miller, from Apress Publishing, about how they can sponsor the event. Of course, beer was mentioned, which is always a good choice, but something else was much more creative. You know those cool, witty Apress buttons that they’ve been giving out at regular conferences this year? You know, the ones that have the cool, geeky sayings on them, like “As a programmer, I find your faith in computers amusing” and “I rarely come out of my shell environment”. Well, Julie wants to do a contest on the camp wiki site to get people to contribute more of those pithy, funny expressions, and then pass out the buttons at the camp, with possibly a reward to the best phrases. That’s called creativity. And that’s what it’s all about! 🙂