I’m not the first and won’t be the last to comment on the topic of satisfying the overwhelming demand for WWDC tickets. My ideas is based on a few underlaying assumptions, and even includes possible variants.
- There is sufficient hotel capacity in the city
- Other parts of the Moscone or nearby convention facilities can be booked simultaneously
Attendees typically want:
- Session content
- Access to presenters after a session
- Access to labs and related non-session activities
- Be around and network with other attendees
While the rooms in Moscone West are at capacity, not everyone needs to be in those rooms at the same time, hence what’s really needed is to spread the people out across multiple sites. (e.g. other facilities). More attendees, but the same density of people with the same content and opportunities.
There is no reason the live sessions can’t be streamed live into other rooms. The big issue is access to the presenters after a session. Only a small percentage of people from a sessions want to talk to the presenter, which usually results in them being herded to the corridor to make way for the following session, and there is a fairly good chance you’ll know if you care enough about a topic before the presentation to decide if you may need access. Allowing people to choose a venue to view it from will ease the load and reduce the lines. Alternatively, the presenters could be made available at set places and times during the conference to assist those who weren’t in the room where the presenter was. The obvious alternative of holding numerous repeats of a session is still viable. Having developed and delivered training myself, the largest imposition is the time creating the content and getting to the venue. Presenting and being with the consumers is actually the enjoyable part. An extra hour or so to repeat the delivery or answer questions is negligible.
To satisfy demand for the labs and non-session activities, it wouldn’t be difficult to bring in additional Apple engineers or extend the time they are available, including making better use of the Friday, Sunday preceding the conference, and extended hours. This will require more time from Apple engineers, but it’s typically an incremental thing, and not a huge imposition in the larger context. The non-pre-booked lab activities are often undersubscribed in either room utilisation or demands on staff. The pre-booked activities should easily be scalable.
Being around and networking with other attendees is another large part of conference. Increasing the physical size of the conference will, certainly reduce some of the chance encounters, but a little additional organisation by attendees and Apple would help and definitely improve the current state of play. Additional birds of a feather sessions, a “Facebook” of attendees and Apple’s “Find Friends” app to help find people with similar interests and other technology would help. Making use the Moscone or other local facilities into the evenings or perhaps the Friday afternoon or following weekend can address a lot of the needs.
The typical agenda of many attendees is to sort out a list of issues or questions they have for Apple, absorb new content and catch up with and meet new people. My ideas go along way to help scaling the conference, even if it’s doubling or tripling the size.
I don’t subscribe to the tech talk tours as being an alternative because they only address some of the reasons people attend WWDC. I will part with $4,000 to attend WWDC for a week, but not a fractional amount required to cover air fares and hotels in a nearby city for a tech talk.
These approaches don’t scale infinitely, but would satisfy a lot more of the current demand than anything else, until “peak Apple” (think peak oil) occurs. There will be the current level of demand for at least a couple of years. Apple failed to act in the past year or two, when they should have, and upset a lot of people this year in the process. There is the risk of WWDC becoming less appealing as the conference becomes less obtainable, the community fragments or quality declines by overloading Apple. It still needs to be good for non-locals to part with around $4,000 to be there. I don’t envy the organisers.
As a separate issue, I would also like to see the facilities made available after the scheduled times for people to give their own “user contributed” talks or lightning talks. Having some non-Apple content while we’re present would be great. I wouldn’t want to see it displace Apple content, but there are certainly idle resources to make this possible, and once again spreads the attendees. Encouraging and providing the means for lightning or flash-mob style talks (e.g. soapboxes) is a tantalising idea. Twitter or App.Net are powerful tools to make this and Birds Of A Feather happen.