Preparing for Portland: 10up’s Developer Summit

As the new Web Strategist here at 10up, I’m still getting to know the team. Naturally, I was very excited to learn that I would be attending our Developer Summit in Portland on my second week! To find out more, I sat down with Jeremy Felt and Carl Danley (over Skype) to find out just what the Summit is all about and how it came to be.

10up Dev Summit Interview

How many people are you expecting at the Summit?
Jermey Felt: [Almost] everybody from 10up. 22 people total.
Editor’s note: Our Operations Manager, Pat, is holding down the back office in Sacramento during the Summit, and our Director of User Interface Engineering, Helen, just began her maternity leave.

There are many diverse jobs/responsibilities at 10up; how do you plan to cater to them all in one collective conference?
JF: Originally this was planned as just a Developer Summit, which is still the core focus, different web engineering technologies… [Director of Web Strategy] Jess Jurick proposed that we also have a mini project management conference, which she and [Senior Web Strategist] Megan Gray will handle somewhat separately… everyone will get a handle on the engineering concepts, and be involved in the lectures in some way… The workshop style will help us make sure nobody gets lost.
Carl Danley: The focus is primarily on the attendees, not the presenters… we’ll be there supplementing what they hear and helping them master the techniques.

Tell me about the workshop format.
JF: We borrowed the basic idea from Scott Berkun… some of our plans came from his article. It’s less of a three hour lecture and more of a hands-on thing. We both like Triade format, so we have about three hours devoted to one topic, divided into different mini-workshops with hands-on portions, followed by a collective regroup…
CD: …Everything is focused on learning. We picked someone who’s the “lead”/”expert” on each topic and then picked someone who would focus on the area where they most wanted to improve…
JF: …When you give talks or presentations, you, as the presenter, are also learning something and becoming even more of an expert.

This is 10up’s first Developer Summit. What are your goals?
JF: We’re all focused on ensuring that everyone walks away having learned something that they can immediately apply to client projects. It’s building blocks. The secondary goal is team unification….
CD: …We are a distributed company, so I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone face-to-face, hanging out, and building that team comradery… And we’re also going to have fun, going out at night, getting a beer together, and really getting to know each other.
JF: We had our first team meet up last summer during WordCamp San Francisco. It was a real bonding experience, and we really got to know each other.

What are some of the challenges involved in creating a Summit-style meetup?
JF: The challenges have all been about the total number of people. Housing and feeding them, finding a space, and then actually getting everyone there and taking them to different locations. It does help that five of us are already in the Portland area. [Operations Manager] Pat Silvia was a big help, she’s done a great job of handling the details.
CD: …Getting everyone organized in terms of slides and workshops. Jeremy has dealt with all the planning for physical locations, projectors, tools, and so on. I’m going into it make sure we have the people and the presenters there and make sure everyone is excited and motivated. Everyone seems to be doing a great job – we have an awesome team.

What sort of programming did you create for the Summit?
JF: The 10up schedule is online where everyone can check it out!

Any specific events I should be especially ready to photograph and document?
JF: Wednesday night’s 10up Social, a local WordPress community event. Thursday we have more great presentations, lunch at the food carts if the weather is nice, and bowling at a VIP lounge.
CD: The more pictures the better. It’s great to have stock photos for later, plus documentation and follow up articles about the events…. It’s cool to see that when we do get together we have a blast!

What are you most looking forward to?
JF: The general buzz when everybody gets together. I’m planning to hang out at the hotel even though I live in Portland, so I can see everyone coming in, maybe organize an outing.
CD: I’d say the same thing!

Any final thoughts before we start our summit?
JF: To be cliché, when you get a bunch of smart people in a room, magic happens! I’m looking forward to that magic.

Stay tuned this week for more blog posts, photo galleries, Facebook and Twitter updates all about the Developer’s Summit!

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