As the PDC2008 Content Owner and a member of the Core Team, my days are filled with PDC-related activities. I thought I'd blog about some of these activities in a series called A Day in the Life. My hope is that I'll be able to post more of these as we approach PDC2008 this October. So, if you're interested in behind-the-scenes insights, keep checking back.
First off, let me explain the Content Owner role. My job is to drive the themes, tracks, sessions, and overall direction of the content at the event. This extends to many other areas, including the keynotes, the pre-conference training sessions, the hands-on-labs where you can play with the technologies, the bits that we hand out (referred to as The Goods), and the panels and symposia. Ultimately, we have role owners that are responsible for each major activity, and without them, there would be no way to pull of an event with the scope, size, and magnitude of PDC. It's definitely a team effort.
PDC is a different kind of conference. Unlike most conferences that I've attended, PDC is assembled from the top down. By this, I mean that we start with a top-level theme and work down to the individual products, technologies, and topics that are covered in our sessions. Since the PDC is all about the future of the Microsoft platform, it's important that we provide a clearly articulated strategy with content that not only offers deep technical education, but also delivers guidance, best practices, and recommendations for its use. Many other conferences do a "SELECT * FROM NEW_STUFF" and generate content for each result. While this works for training, it doesn't work as well for a strategic conference like the PDC where the content needs to work together and tell a coherent story.
We initiated a PDC2008 "proto-track" process late last year. The proto-track team was comprised of senior leaders across Microsoft (VPs, Distinguished Engineers, Technical Fellows, etc.) that met over the course of many multi-hour meetings to decide on our overall theme, the tracks we would use to organize the content, and the people who would make up our track team. After the track team was assembled, we began the twice-weekly meetings that will continue up until the event in October. As Content Owner, it's my job to organize and run these meetings to ensure that we end up in Los Angeles with kick-ass content. Actually, if I restate that more specifically, my job is to help the track team generate kick-ass content that you guys love.
While PDC2008 registration hasn't opened yet, the track team is working towards this first major milestone. This means that we need to come up with an initial set of sessions that will more-or-less represent the kinds of sessions you can expect to see at the event. This initial set won't be comprehensive, and we'll add new sessions as they're defined and published over the coming months. If you read my post titled PDC 2008 Conference Scheduling Using a Genetic Algorithm, you already know that tracks—while useful—don't solve all of the content slicing and dicing challenges, and we'll spend a lot of time in our meetings coming up with a useful list of tags to help you navigate the content.
The track team is also working with Jaime Rodriguez to develop a full day of pre-conference sessions for October 26 (one day before the main event begins). These all-day sessions are typically very well attended, and they provide in-depth training on current technology. Actually, Jaime is doing all of the real work...we've just provided some insights and feedback.
I hope you enjoyed this first look into life as a PDC Content Owner. If there are any topics that you'd like me to write about or any questions that I can answer, I'd love to hear your feedback.