This week I am finalising my preparation for the talk that I am giving at SQLBits this weekend. ‘Finalising’ means taking the points that I want to make and other things floating around in my head and produce some meaningful slides so that I don’t go off track too much – so I still have some work to do this week. In preparing for a presentation you have to, unless you want the presentation to come out as canned marketing speak, try and pick up the probable mood of your audience. My audience will be somewhat bloated, at little tired and maybe a little tipsy for the just-after-lunch slot that my presentation is in – so I will have my work cut out trying to keep them interested and involved. I toyed with the idea of getting JRJ to do a very convincing YMCA karaoke but unfortunately he is presenting at the same time as me and is probably keeping that card up his sleeve for his own spectacle.
While tuning a presentation for an after-lunch audience has to be considered it is not, in all seriousness, such a big deal – the people going up to SQLBits are there to learn and will not squander the opportunity by spending the whole afternoon in the pub. I find it interesting to reflect on the success of these one day Saturday community conferences and gatherings such as SQLBits and DDD (sort of a .NET equivalent). It seems that there are a lot of people who are prepared to sacrifice their weekend and a bit of cash to further themselves – and they are doing it on their own steam. In the current climate there is a lot of pressure to cut costs and keep a low profile – the days of being able to jet off to a week long conference are, at least for the time being, over. Even requests for training, books and other tools to empower people to develop skills are being declined due to cut-backs or not made for fear of becoming exposed. But it seems that there are some people who step out from the yoke of corporate credit crunch processes and take some of their own time to further their skills, knowledge and relationships.
How much of this is selfish, from a career hedging perspective, or altruist, where the objective is to gain knowledge and insight for the benefit of the employer is unclear – but I suspect that it is more of the former. These days, particularly in IT operations and the data centre, there is at least a fog of insecurity and probably a cloud of doom hanging over the future prospects of individuals. History has taught us, through events like the Titanic, that large objects, armies and organizations are far slower to respond to threats and opportunities than individuals and often it is a single nimble person that can have a great influence of the outcome. I am assuming that the individuals that are taking the time to attend SQLBits are leaders in their own right – in their own lives, teams, departments or organizations and that they are there to learn what they can to influence the things that are under their control.
My speculation as to why 500 people will make the trip up to Manchester for SQLBits this weekend may be a bit off – maybe there is something really great about the city that they are wanting to see. My hunch is that they are going there to try learn something that will empower them to make a difference. Maybe they will bring those ideas back to their hungry employer or maybe they will find, through an informal means, the idea that sparks off a personal change in these tough times. So I will, in this final week of preparing my slides, try and do my bit by talking about things that contribute to making the day worthwhile and well spent.
So if you are going to SQLBits maybe I will see you there – being an F1 weekend you may recognise me by my display of support for McLaren by wearing the team t-shirt. If you are still on the fence about attending, then go to the SQLBits website and register – there is still space left. While I don’t promise metaphorical fireworks, if you attend my session, then I intend to light up a candle or an energy efficient light bulb.