After a week in Seattle attending the 2008 MVP Summit I needed a break of couple of days before I can get get back to normal. The Summit is certainly a very different type of a conference. Here are couple of variations I would like to point out.
Regular conferences dive directly from day one into regular sessions. Slide decks, presentations, code samples etc. At the MVP Summit on the contrary /I can speak only for the SharePoint track/ we started with some rigorous physical, tactical and strategic training. The master of ceremonies <Lawrence/> got us on a bus and in the woods (short from traveling blindfolded) and whoever did not pass the test of running and shooting paint potions for hours could not go to the next level. The good news is that everybody was fit enough to make it :) . Due to strict NDA some call it "Paintball", but believe me it was more than that. Thinking about it, this will be the first conference ever, where I may lose weight rather than put some pounds. Here is me (right) with John Holliday and Kit Kai loading potions in special buckets:
Another huge difference is that MVP Summit has several keynotes. One to begin with and two at closing. One of the closing keynotes came from the Boss (Ray Ozzie) and the next one from the Big Boss (Steve Ballmer). Ray Ozzie spoke about the value of building and supporting product communities once a star product reaches critical mass. Steve Balmer electrified the audience with his energetic performance. More about what they said here.
The third difference is that what happens in between the agility training (aka Paintball) and the keynotes is very interesting and intensive, but also cannot be shared freely. The event itself was organized flawlessly and facilitated its purpose to get closer product teams and the community.
Talking about sharing, the best part of all is that I met a lot of talented and opinionated people with a mindset of sharing their knowledge with others. Some contribute primarily by answering questions in MSDN groups, others speaking at conferences and code camps, writing books or supporting community software projects.
Thanks to the organizers and the sponsors, who made this a truly remarkable experience.
Different conference indeed...