"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Friday, October 12, 2007

Conferences as Metrics

I spent a good bit of last night watching streaming video from Naples. Looks like it was an awesome venue. From the Conference website I note that 360 people attended. Then it occurred to me that number of conferences (local, regional, and global), number of people attending, quality of conference website, and so forth is an interesting integration of the strength of the core development team and dedication of the high visibility installations.

The Plone 2007 Conference was streamed, already has a number of Technorati posts, has some video bits already posted (congrats to the new Foundation Board), a strong Second Life virtual conference presence, 63 presentations (all of whose abstracts are online), and filled four rooms for three days (not counting pre-conferance training and post-conferance sprints). There is active Twittering from the conference and links to online transcripts (many have been uploaded as blogs by the presenters). Permanent online video archives will appear soon, if last year's experience from Seattle holds true. (Speaking of which, if you watch only one Plone Conference video, it should be last year's talk by Eben Moglen. Inspiring!)

Out of curiosity, I went looking for the last DrupalCon, which was last month in Barcelona (good choice, guys). I came away less than overwealmed: birds of a feather sessions canceled, no microphones at some sessions, negative vibes about posting presentations to SlideShare, but their video archives are up and running. I believe they had 84 formal presentations planned and those covered a wide range of ground for their community.

Next, being a glutton for punishment, I went looking for the last SharePoint Conference. Eventually I found it at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/bb498198.aspx , but it was a non-trivial exercise. Of course, comparing commercial with open source is a huge apples-and-oranges problems. How can http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/sharepoint/default.aspx be compared with Drupal.org or Plone.org?

This all speaks to the fact that conference attendence, frequency, number of sessions, quality (hard to quantify), and so on are proxies for a software system's acceptance and momentum. As of yet I don't know what it means that Drupal had AV problems but 21 more presentations, so stand by as I look at some ways to normalize these measures. Its even a more difficult problem when factoring in commercial off-the-shelf software.

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