Friday night at the ALT.NET conference

This past weekend was the first ALT.NET conference, held here in Austin, TX. Right from the start, I knew this was going to be special.

The list of attendees was amazing. It’s like my blog roll, but live!

The format

This was not your typical run of the mill conference, where we yearn for interesting hallway conversations to break up monotonous presentations filled with canned PowerPoint presentations. This conference follows the Open Spaces format. Our own Doc List facilitated the conference, and did a great job. He introduced us to the format, and laid out how it all works. It’s completely self-organizing. As attendees, we openly offer up session topics that we want to talk about. Anyone (and it seemed like almost everyone) offered up a topic – some people suggested multiple topics. Like minded topics were gathered together, and a schedule was constructed. Very agile.

The rules of Open Spaces

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

The rule of 2 feet

If you don’t like the session you are in, use your 2 feet and go to another session.

You know those conferences where you pick out a presentation to attend because the 30 word summary sounds interesting, but then you get in there and wish you could escape. But it seems rude to just walk out? Not here. In fact, it’s encouraged! You can pop in and out amongst the sessions, stay put in one, or even just hang out in the hallway and start your own discussion.

The first discussion

The opening discussion was the entire group discussion “What is ALT.NET, and why is it considered alternative?” It was a great discussion. There are many fellow attendees who have blogged about this, but one of the big things I solidified in my mind is that its not an anti-Microsoft movement. Its about making better software, using the right tools and processes for the context you are in. I also think its about constantly challenging given assumptions.


It’s obvious that the people here are full of passion for what they do, welcoming towards conversations and dialogs, open-minded to explore new ideas and to having their assumptions challenged, and willing to share, for the betterment of the community as a whole. I feel energized and ecstatic to be here.