At the beginning of the week now ending was Community One, an opening act or a curtain-raiser or a prelude or whatever for Java One. I was on stage twice, once in the opening, and managed to visit (I think) all of the tracks. I was one of three thousand or so people there. It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I think about it.
Community One is hard to think about because there wasn’t, at the end of the day (or the beginning, either), a unifying theme; there were a bunch of Sun- and Java-related open-source project meet-ups, plus some other stuff the Sun community cares about, and the Redmonk Unconference.
Weirdly, it worked pretty well. While I bet that most of the people were drawn by one track or another, I saw a lot of traffic moving back and forth between them. Plus, there were super-interesting hallway conversations.
I think Community One needs to exist. Clearly Sun’s software spectrum is extending out to be bigger than Java; and we need to get together to talk about it. On the other hand, it would be stupid to try to rip the Java portion of the spectrum out of the middle and segregate it; because the success of nearly every Java developer depends crucially on a few of the other Community One technologies.
So, in the big picture, does Java One become a component of Community One? That’s not unthinkable, but realistically, both out in the world and inside Sun, Java remains the single largest developer community; so what’s the tail and what’s the dog?
I am pretty sure of one thing: both Community One and Java One would benefit from aggressively adopting the Unconference format for a big chunk of the program. Every year, in the opening plenary, John Gage exhorts the attendees to make use of the time to get to know each other, to talk to strangers, to hear new stories. So why is that crucial part of the conversation relegated to the hallways and lunch-tables?
Obviously, nobody’s ever tried an Unconference at the scale of Java One, and there’ll be compromises and stumbles and the requirement for real interaction-design creativity. But there is low-hanging fruit: a lot of really bright people facing really hard interesting problems who’ve been spending too long, at this kind of event, sitting in the dark listening. I want to hear their stories.