For the eight prior years of CodeMash we have had one or more keynoters. Some years we had three!
We have decided this year to not have a traditional keynoter at all. For a few reasons, which I will iterate here for your edification.
- It is really hard (I mean really frackin’ hard) to find a single keynoter that can make 2,000 people happy.
- They are expensive, and we are a non-profit.
- It limits us on a space/ticket basis. To do a keynote we have to have a room big enough for everyone. That is the main dining room. We can barely squeeze the 2,000 people we have in there.
- It takes up a ton of time on the agenda.
While removing traditional keynoters, we did want to still use the main stage to highlight some of the more popular sessions/speakers on the main stage. To this end we will be scheduling some sessions in the main dining room on the main stage. Which sessions? That will depend on the results of the session survey, which we do once all of the tickets are sold.
This chains into another problem we’ve had for a few years. That problem is the flash mob of 2,000 hungry nerds hitting the buffets all at the same time. This creates a huge backlog for the buffets, making people very HANGRY. It is also very hard on the staff and the kitchen. It is nearly impossible to feed that many people that fast.
Now that we don’t have to worry about fitting everyone in the dining room at the same time (because no keynoters) we can go to an open dining format. We’ve stolen this idea from Codestock, which is a fantastic event in Knoxville. We will be lengthening the lunch timeslot to about three hours (11:00 – 2:00). This time length might get tweaked, so don’t set your calendars yet. Since lunch is much longer, people can go when they want, and not all at once. What are you going to do during the lunch time when you aren’t eating? Well, you can do whatever you want. Pair coding in the hallway, the waterpark, visit the sponsors, or GO TO MORE SESSIONS!
Yes, because of this new format, we figured, why leave the session rooms empty so long. SO, more sessions slots. We have nearly doubled the amount of sessions at CodeMash to about 195 over two days (not counting precompiler sessions)! Yes! So go to the sessions you want, jump out to lunch when you want. CodeMash on your schedule. And we know this will cause humanitiarian issues. Some will overload on sessions and forget to eat. So at least run in for ten minutes to eat, and then run back to getting your head filled with crazy out of your comfort zone ideas.
Last point to make in this post that is nearing the length of the bacon bar line, and that is we will be working with the Kalahari to offer an official vegetarian buffet. The Kalahari kitchen has always worked hard to help us meet all of the special dietary needs of our attendees. This is important to us. For the prior years, the answer to vegetarian, was “Yes, the buffet will always have vegetarian options”. Well, that worked, if all you wanted was salad and coleslaw for five days. To fix this we are working with the staff, and HOPE to offer a real vegetarian buffet. We will also have a special meal pickup window. This will be near the buffets. If you have special meals, above and beyond vegetarian, then you will receive special meal tickets when you checkin at CodeMash. In years past, you would sit down, find a server, give them the ticket and wait for your food. Which sometimes came back wrong, and sometimes cold. This year, to help the Kalahari staff make this a better experience, we will have a special foods pickup window. You will bring your ticket to said window. They will give you food. You can check it for correctedness and such before heading to your seat.
- No more keynotes.
- Will have some high profile sessions on main stage.
- Lunch is now much longer, go when you want, not all that the same time.
- Plenty of new sessions during the lunch window.
- Vegetarian buffet option.
- Special meals will have a dedicated pickup window.