Speaker Update for the Mac OS X Conference

by Derrick Story

As I looked out the plane window flying home from the Open Source Convention in Portland, my thoughts returned to the next big O'Reilly show on my plate: the Mac OS X Conference coming the last week of October.

We had made pretty good progress putting together the program before OSCON dominated our consciousness. Now that OSCON is behind us, it's time to add the missing pieces and complete the planning for what I believe is going to be a terrific Mac event.

Many of you reading this weblog have contributed your ideas to our conference proposal system. Some of you have heard from us. Most of you have not. Since I know it will probably be at least another week or two before our entire batch of "accept" and "decline" letters go out, I want to give you all an update right now.

First of all, I want to say that I really appreciate your patience while we work on this program. The caliber of submissions was very high. Many of them were close to what I was looking for, but not exactly on the mark. I had opportunities to corner speakers who had proposed talks (that I wanted to accept) at WWDC and Macworld Boston this month. Even though this slows down the proposal process somewhat, it's also very valuable to meet with people in person to discuss ideas and shape talks.

But there's another layer to this cake. For marketing reasons, we had to accept some talks and post them on the conference web site so we could begin promoting the event. There is a natural tension between the program chair (me) and the marketing folks (my partners with this event) when it comes to timing. I want to wait until I see what happens at WWDC and Macworld before making any final decisions. But the logistics of pulling off a successful conference don't allow that luxury. So we compromise, and a portion of the program is built early and advertised.

You may know someone who has already been accepted as a speaker. He or she was part of that first wave that allows up to frame the show, hopefully inspiring others to consider attending. But there is more work to do, and more talks to add -- including keynotes.

We have a very detailed process for reviewing submitted talks. Even after I and the program committee have weighed-in on the evaluations, the decisions are kicked up to the executive staff for review. We take your proposals very seriously. Our process is meticulous and considered.

As I mentioned earlier, we still have some work to do before we reach our final decisions. I know it's been a while since many of you have submitted your proposals, and again I want to thank you for your patience. If I could, I would accept about twice as many talks as room allows. Your ideas have been that good.

In the meantime, until the letters go out, I'll do my best to keep everyone posted on this conference as it comes together. In the end, I feel confident that our efforts will have a positive outcome.

One last note. While we were all in Portland, the conference chairs and staff met to discuss this process. We want to retain the quality of the presentations, but improve communication. We came up with some good ideas that I think you will appreciate in the future.