CITCON Paris 2009, a personal retrospective of the organization

Closing session

As I write this, 3 days after the closing, I have still not fully recovered from CITCON Paris 2009. I have been very much involved in organizing this edition, so I would like to indulge in a bit of personal retrospective, mostly on the organization of the conference. This is basically self-reflexion; if that’s not your thing, you can leave. You won’t miss much.

Here goes.

What worked at the conference:

  • we had more than 120 participants, which is in line with CITCON’s goals and the highest number ever in all 11 events. Also, it is very close to the number we had estimated ourselves.
  • all the people in the waiting list have eventually been invited to join the main registration list; no one was left behind
  • costs were well under control, especially thanks to the free use of ISEP’s classrooms
  • we got significant money from sponsors; in fact, combined with the well-contained expenses, this event contributed hugely to settle debts from the past events
  • quality of food was alright (especially for a free event)
  • there were a number of well-known people, helping make this event special for other participants
  • twittering was big; according to my feed on Google Reader, there were more than 300 tweets. Including quite a few from people regretting not to have come.

What could have worked better:

  • there was not enough food. I think this is partly because the caterer is not a real professional. Even though we had given good estimates for the number of participants, I think that, as the person in charge of the student foyer, he was used mostly to students eating on a budget. If we use such a semi-professional in the future (likely, since we want to use more free venues such as universities), we would be wise to over-estimate the number of participants as far as food is concerned. Just in case.
  • Even though we did arrange the chairs in the main room in circles, we left the other rooms as they were, theater-style. This didn’t help having involved discussions (as opposed to presentations).
  • I’m wondering if we have not reached the maximum possible number of participants. One of the things that I really enjoyed last year was the late night drinks with the few that dared stay. This year, we were 30 or 40 at the end. Groups started to split up. Guillaume and I led a few to the Ti Jos bar and to the Caveau des Oubliettes. Although nice, it was a bit sad, as there wasn’t really a “closing the closing session” moment. We didn’t even get to do new predictions! (and settle last year’s bets, BTW).
  • Some rooms were lacking a video projector. I wonder if it would be good investment for the Open Information Foundation to buy one of those small and inexpensive projectors that have appeared recently on the market

On a more personal note, the conference passed a bit like a blur for me. Despite using OpenSpace Technology, I still ended up as the contact person for many participants, suppliers and sponsors, which was distracting. Also, helping my brother with the filming didn’t help. I even managed to miss out on the (now traditional) “Is Scrum Evil?” session, which had been a favorite of mine last year.

I still had a great time. Met Antony Marcano and Andy Palmer from Pair With Us (they are hoping to join us at the Paris Coding Dojo sometime — looking forward to it) as well as Gojko Adzic, whose copies of book was given away to some lucky participants, and Jason Sankey and Daniel Ostermeier from Zutubi… Reconnected with many former colleagues and friends, too. I also attended a few sessions ;-)

Oh, and last but not least, I’m one of the winners from last year’s bets! What do I win? Well, beer, in theory. But, even better, I get to call PJ, Jeffrey, Tom, Julian and Yegor LOSERS for a year. Priceless.

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See you next year, in one of the five cities in our short list (Zürich, Copenhagen, Belgrade, Dublin, and Prague).

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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One Response to CITCON Paris 2009, a personal retrospective of the organization

  1. “As I write this, 3 days after the closing, I have still not fully recovered from CITCON Paris 2009” — I know exactly how you feel!

    And don’t forget that something like 1/3 of the attendees said they learned about the conference from you. What an excellent testament to the personal connection bringing people to the event.

    I thought you did a fantastic job organizing the event. Thanks again.


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