I just spent a disappointing and frustrating weekend in Chicago for the third Second Life Community Conference. I’ve been to a lot of conferences of all kinds, at various levels of formality and informality, run by all kinds of organization or by no organization at all. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a conference where the substantive portion was as poorly organized an promoted as the SLCC2007.
First, no information was provided on the topics of the panels for the two-day conference. Even in the final printed program, there were no descriptions of the panels–only a one-line topic. It’s not because of lack of room in the printed program; it was filled with speaker biographies, but again, no indication which panel they were speaking on, or their topic. Even simple, obvious organizational and information matters were neglected: there was no index of speakers in the program, but that would have been useless since there were no page numbers.
My second objection was that there was no attempt to facilitate meetings of interested individuals outside of the program. One heard, through blogs or occasional in-world (in Second Life) chat, of meetups going on, but the organizers could easily have used a wiki for the community to post suggestions or requests for gatherings, BOF (birds of a feather) sessions, and the like. I knew only one or two people among the 800 registrants ahead of time. I’m sure there were many many more I would have liked to meet, but there was no way of doing so other than sheer chance.
Third, and most glaring, was the complete lack of transparency. It was never clear who was organizing the program, selecting the panelists, and so forth. For something promoted as a “community” conference, that was a major problem for me. Unless there are major changes in the way the conference is run next time, I won’t be going again.