I was honored to be asked to be a member of the committee for the “big” MySQL conference: Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo 2013 in Santa Clara, CA. Personally, I’ve been attending this conference for 6 or 7 years and missing it only when my wife was pregnant with a due date in April (we have two children with April birthdays).
To me there was always a bit of mystery around conference talk selection committees, and this is the first public conference I’ve performed these duties for. I’m not writing this post representing the entire committee, just as a member trying to let people in on what we get up to in general and where we’re at now. Perhaps a few questions have crossed your mind:
Who is on the committee?
Our Chair is Shlomi Noach. Also on the committee apart from myself is Roland Bouman, Ronald Bradford, Laine Campbell, Colin Charles, Jeremy Cole, Patrick Galbraith, Henrik Ingo, Guiseppe Maxia, Domas Mituzas and Ivan Zoratti. More information about all these fine folks can be found on the conference website.
You might notice that I’m the only voting member on the committee who works for Percona. I am very much functioning as an independent member of the community and I’m trying hard to stay neutral. However, my observation so far is that it is the individual biases and preferences of the various committee members that helps form a strong group that is representative of the MySQL community at large. I do not have any particular authority in the committee, in fact I probably have less than most as a rookie member.
What does the committee do?
So far we’ve had a few phone conferences to discuss our responsibilities. The Call for Papers ended officially on October 31st, and our first hurdle is reviewing all the selections for the tutorials day. Once the tutorials are selected, then we need to review the huge number of session proposals. Beyond that, I’m less sure of our duties, but I’ll endeavor to write more as things develop.
I think one aspect of committee work that isn’t clear is that we don’t merely rate and pick the top rated sessions. We also look for balance across the submissions we accept that represent the community as a whole. This can mean striking balance between what might be several good talks on one subject with more talks on a variety of subjects. We’ve also identified gaps in the proposals that we’ve actively invited people to submit on. These talks still go through the review process, so there’s no golden tickets here, just what influence we have in the community to encourage others to make proposals.
What do you look for in a talk proposal?
Everyone on the committee probably would have a different answer here, but speaking for myself, I look for proposals that:
- are well defined and seem to encompass a topic that can fit into the requested time
- have good details on what will be covered
- clearly delineate whether they are covering a specific technology, or a survey of a variety of technologies
- are submitted by people who have demonstrated they are clear subject-matter experts
- cover a topic that is relevant to the MySQL community as a whole
- tutorials that are actually hands-on, or at least with comprehensive demonstrations, not just 3 hour talks.
While the CfP has officially closed, technically you can make adjustments to your submission, so this may not be an entirely moot point. However if you want to make changes to your existing talks, do so ASAP. For tutorials it may really be too late as most of the committee has already done their reviews.
What topics should I expect to be covered at the conference?
There’s a lot of territory there, and of course the selections are not finalized. However, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d say you’ll be seeing a fair amount of:
- What’s new in MySQL 5.6, Percona Server 5.6, MariaDB 10
- Cutting-edge High Availability
- Cloud, cloud, cloud
- Galera/Percona XtraDB Cluster
- Lots and lots of practical MySQL experience
- Great products in the MySQL ecosystem
I’ve been asked to keep blogging on the committee’s progress, so feel free to ask me questions about what’s going on, I’ll try to answer them in future posts. Once the tutorials have been selected, I’m planning on posting again with some highlights.