I have not blogged a lot about Silicon Valley Code Camp this year, not because a lot has not been going on, but actually, because a lot has been going on and I have not had much free time to blog. Tonight, we have reached one of our critical milestones which is we are publishing the schedule! 6 Tracks, 148 Sessions, and so far, 1265 attendees registered. Last year we got about 400 more registered in the last week, so I’m expecting a busy week when people start seeing the schedule on line.
I thought in this post, I’d talk a little about how we actually do the scheduling. Many people have asked over the past 4 years if we have some automated neuron network doing heuristic processing of all the constraints kind of like an airline reservation and scheduling system. Well, the answer is I wish we did. What we do have is a large room at our house with a wood floor, plenty of light, a nice paper cutter and a small group of us to fight over where everything should go.
It starts out with an empty floor and a group of very enthusiastic code camp organizers.
(Kevin Nilson, Tammy Baker, Peter Kellner and Mike Van Riper)
Before this, we’ve of course cut up the schedule into slivers of paper that tell us how many people are interested in each session, which days the presenter said they planned on attending, and the basic title. Often we need more information so we have a computer hooked up to the 60” TV you see in the picture so we can look up descriptions from the web site along with tags.
Well, about 5 hours later, after lots of haggling, we end up with a floor full of paper as you can see below (and some tired schedulers).
(Tammy Baker, Dave Nielsen, Kevin Nilson and Peter Kellner)
Then, I get to enter all these sessions into the site using not quite state of the art admin software that I wrote while I was learning asp.net over 4 years ago (we have to learn on something!). I don’t want to admit how long that takes.
Next step, is a limited release just to the presenters so they can see it and make sure I didn’t do things like schedule them for 2 sessions (or even 3) at the same time. When the chatter dies down (usually 3 or 4 days later, which is now), we publish it to the world.
At that point, we ask everyone to let us know which sessions they plan on attending by going to the sessions page and selecting the “Plan To Attend” Radio button. We have found that in the past, the number of people interested in a session often reflects how long the session has been posted in addition to how many people are actually interested. So, we hide the number interested so we don’t bias people, and ask them to tell us which sessions they plan on attending with the dialog below on the sessions page.
Then, 2 days before camp, we look at how many people are planning to attend for each time slot, and we rebalance the rooms to make sure we put the largest sessions in the largest rooms.
Hope to see you at camp 10/3 and 10/4