I'm still working on digesting the detailed notes I took while engaging in discussions about online discussions and Microsoft's role in the community, but here are some random thoughts I had during the summit.
More themed discussions: On Tuesday there was a 2 hour lunch with discussion tables on specific topics hosted by MS people. Several people told me that this was their favorite part of the day sessions. Next year there should be hosted or dinners done in this way every day. The Monday developer dinner felt a little like a junior high dance with many MVPs talking to MVPs and MS people talking to MS people. Both wanted a little more mixing up. Sometimes you just have to force these things.
Faces: The summit did wonders for me putting faces to all the names I'd seen on e-mails. It proved to be a great way for me to meet some great Microsofties for the first time as well.
MS/MVP connection requests. I'm not sure how this would work, but I think it would be cool next year if there was some way MVPs could request time of certain product group people and vica versa. Discussion groups, meetings, and dinners could be planned ahead of time. I spent a bunch of time hunting people down and then felt bad for stealing what should have been their free time.
NDA Less: It just seems wrong to put so many leashes on our best customers. A lot of what the MVPs saw (especially with regard to Whidbey) has already been included in the first Tech Preview and thus may as well be public knowledge since any MSDN subscriber can get it. I feel like we did too good a job scaring the MVPs from sharing the good stuff with the rest of the community.
MvpSummitBloggers.net: Complete with photoblogs! This would help build more community around the summit participants. I love what's happened around pdcbloggers.
Presentation Level: Some of the presentations I saw were targeted beneath the knowledge of the room. Either too dumbed down or too much repeat information. One of the challenges with being more open is going to be getting deeper the people that have already seen a lot of stuff to get them even more involved.
Feedback: Ask for an inch of feedback from the MVPs and you will get a mile. Everyone was outstanding at giving constructive feedback that will honestly help us build better products. And the other side noticed that we have started asking more and doing something about it. “Have they started training you all how to ask for feedback? It seems like it is second nature for every Microsoft person I've talked to.“ Was one quote. To answer: Yes Ian, we have started to train this into people. 🙂
International Impact: The Spanish guys know how to have a good time and the French have formed a very strong sub-community within the MVPs. I learned, and have since forgotten how to say “breadbox“ in German. I was told is was the most difficult to pronounce and was up for the challenge. Everyone, however, seemed to speak the universal language of “beer“ and “good times“ just fine without translation assistance.
Allchin Inspires and Balmer Engaged: Jim Allchin was the best speaker on executive day. He was energized, technical, funny, and was able to instill his sense of passion into the crowd. Myself included. While the other execs took the pre-canned/voted on questions Balmer spoke to them but then opened up the floor to tough live questions. He did a great job of following the company values and being open and honest with his answers. It was over too soon.
Passion: I love talking with people who are passionate about technology. I once met a person (in the software industry!) who told me “why bother trying something new? There are no new ideas left in software.“ Everyone here was the exact opposite of that. And the less I speak to someone who says that the better.
Timing: 7:30am discussions need more coffee and 7:30pm discussions need more snacks. Yes, this was the same day with some of the same people. Incredible dedication! I don't know how Betsy had the energy to go back and write such great posts on the same days.
All the fun: How can I become an Xbox MVP?