Kaizendo at YAPC Europe 2010

By Salve J. Nilsen <sjn@kaizendo.org>

In August 2010 I went to YAPC::EU! Yet Another Perl Conference is a series of grass-roots and low-cost Perl conferences that are organized yearly on several continents. I've been to four installments before this one and every one of them were great experiences. I'll gladly admit I was looking forward to this year's event; both for the presentations, the hallway track and to explore Pisa and Florence.

This time, I had an additional reason to go: my presentation about Kaizendo got accepted! This was a first for me, and I have to admit I was a little anxious. Luckily, I had a few weeks to prepare and I had plenty of examples to follow and some experience giving shorter presentations about the project.

For this trip, I set myself a lofty goal: to create some real visibility/interest in the Perl community, and perhaps find a contributor or two.

Arrival, social activities

After a rather cramped Ryanair flight from Torp to Pisa followed by a quick check-in at Hotel Terminus and Plaza, the Oslo.pm guys and myself went exploring. Pisa isn't terribly exciting, but we saw the main touristy sites before moving ourselves to the pre-conference social event at Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Nothing gets me in the YAPC mood like a few hours with the Perl crowd, good discussions and meet the regulars again!

(Photo: CC-BY-SA-2.0, flickr.com/photos/bingosnet)

The venue was at a rather nice hotel near the Pisa airport. Location-wise, it was interesting and a bit unusual compared to earlier YAPC conferences in Europe. A good choice in my opinion and quite practical for the lucky few who managed to book a room at the same hotel. The rest of us stayed at different hotels closer to the city centre (including myself), and got to appreciate the YAPC shuttle buses between the train station and the venue. Excellent service! The venue itself was nice and roomy, with a main hall that that worked well for it's purpose.

(Photo: CC-BY-SA-2.0, flickr.com/photos/bingosnet)

The conference dinner was at restaurant Duomo, located not far from the leaning tower. Good food, but so crowded that the air conditioning failed to keep the restaurant temperature at breathable levels.

(Photo: CC-BY-SA-2.0 flickr.com/photos/arthas/4885320873)

...Luckily, the air was cool and comfortable outside! :)

(Photo: Used with permission, all rights reserved, flickr.com/photos/arthas/4862449463)

The other evenings were spent mostly exploring town, with many of us tending to end up at the "Orzo Bruno" brewpub. Excellent place, with a respectable selection of handmade beers, each of them making discussion about Kaizendo, Perl, and anything else much easier.

Saturday after the conference

A small group went to Firenze. A few lucky ones got the opportunity to visit the Galleria degli Uffizi, and the rest of us walked around the city center enjoying the views and the best ice cream we could find. We finished the excursion at the "Mostodolce" brewpub. Wonderful beer, and plenty of good discussion.

(Photo: CC-BY-SA-2.0 flickr.com/photos/arthas/4886062452)

The Kaizendo presentation

My presentation was Thursday afternoon, and my goal with it was to find anyone who'd consider spending some time on the project. My internal measure for the "successfulness" of the presentation was how many people came to have a talk with me after the presentation was done. The room was filled with roughly 50-60 people, and out of these exactly zero showed interest right afterwards. Not exactly a big success.

Still, it might be wrong to say the presentation was for nothing. In the following days, Kaizendo popped up as a topic on several occasions. Most of it good impressions, and only one or two who didn't understand my purpose with the project. I also received tips on how to improve the talk: Focus on fewer examples, show some mock-ups or a demo. And I got the opportunity for a very interesting discussion about the US educational system. With the few people who asked what the big point was, I found that it was much easier to get them excited when I gave examples they could relate to personally.

Possibly the biggest lesson: I really noticed how difficult it was to convey the customizability and personalization aspects of Kaizendo to a room full of people with all kinds of unique backgrounds. I'm not entirely sure how to overcome this difficulty.

Perl presentations

The program was otherwise filled with interesting talks. There was good visibility around Perl 6 and Rakudo and the lightening talks were as usual a high point of the conference. For me, there were several memorable talks:

There were plenty of other good talks too, and some of them are available on the Presenting Perl website. Check it out!

Final words

In total, it was a somewhat useful trip. I got some good feedback on my presentation, I've managed to create a little visibility within the Perl community, and I found a couple people who said they would "follow the project." The most important lesson: Practice makes perfect.

I'd like to thank NUUG Foundation for the support in making this trip a reality.