On EdgeConf London 2014

This is one of the posts I wanted to write since about... two months three weeks ago? It's so long ago that most of the details of what I wanted to comment have just been sort of lost in my mind. So I'll content myself with being slightly vague.

EdgeConf London 2014 was mostly a good, albeit peculiar, conference. The organisers made a great job of taking care of speakers, bringing us together, speaking to the moderators in advance, etc, and selecting delegates (they had to apply first and then were, or not, accepted--that's why I say this is a "peculiar" conference). You could feel that the people in the room really cared for the web, or were, at least, deeply interested in learning more about it for either entirely altruistic reasons ("to keep it open") or just to do their job better ("to reach more customers"). All valid reasons and equally respectable.

The great mix of attendees from different backgrounds coupled with the "debate" style meant there were higher chances of hearing different informed perspectives than usual. Also lots of interesting conversations happened in the hallway, and some afterwards-the "EdgeConf effect" kept going on after the event finished, which is always nice.

My only concern is also a two-fold piece of advice for anyone thinking of organising a similar open discussion / moderated table event:

  • a) you need a suitable layout: even if you have a moderator, being able to see the faces of your panel mates allows you to take visual cues when your time is up or when you're being confusing or plainly straying away in digressions. A semicircle is the answer to this.
  • b) you need a moderator that takes into account cultural differences. Some people will just wait until asked to speak, whereas other will take as much time as they can and interrupt other people eagerly. A moderator has to keep this in mind and act accordingly to give a voice to everyone in the panel.

And yes, I voiced these concerns to the organisers and they took it well, as I expected they would do :-)

Registration for the next EdgeConf is open already. It will happen in San Francisco, the 20th of September, and you should totally attend if you can.