The call for papers for Percona Live: MySQL Conference and Expo 2013 has been extended through October 31st. The conference will be held in Santa Clara, California from Monday, April 22nd through Thursday April 25th (and this year it’s not during Passover!).
Why You Should Submit
Percona Live is a meeting of the minds – not just the April Santa Clara conference, but all the Percona Live conferences. If you get a proposal accepted, you get free admission to the conference!
There is no cost to submit, and you do not have to tell anyone you submitted. I have submitted to conferences and been rejected – it stinks. But there is no reason not to submit. Submit a few presentations on different topics, because the presentation you have in mind might be submitted by other people too. If you have a presentation about backups rejected, it might be that someone else is doing a presentation on backups. Try to find something unique that nobody else is doing – I have not seen anything close to my talk on White-Hat Google Hacking, for example.
Submitting Your Project
I am not on the conference content committee, but I have been for the former O’Reilly MySQL Conference, OSCon, and several other conferences. If you are submitting a proposal about a project you have, or a product your company makes, it is not too hard to make a presentation that is worthy of acceptance. All you need to do is give a talk where the audience learns, even if they have no interest in your product.
Let me go a bit more into this: you have this project/product related to MySQL. It solves a problem – usually that problem is a lack of feature in MySQL. An introductory presentation about your project/product should talk about traditional ways to solve the problem within MySQL, and then for 10-15 minutes at the end, talk about your project/product. This way, even someone who will never use your product/project will learn something.
Let’s say you have a NoSQL solution. If you have a key-value store, talk about the problems of using unstructured or semi-structured data in MySQL, including how it can be done with MySQL (having big tables with 2 fields, keys and values). Or if you have a document or graph storage solution, talk about the problems of storing blobs of text or navigating through graphs while trying to use MySQL. That should take up 30 of the 45 minutes in a session, and the last 10 minutes can be explaining how your solution makes those problems easier to solve (with 5 minutes at the end for questions).
Why I Am Not Submitting
The main reason I am not submitting to Percona Live: MySQL Conference and Expo is a protest of the conference itself. This specific Percona Live conference was born out of Percona being unwilling to work together with members of the IOUG MySQL Council along with every other major vendor in the MySQL Space (Oracle, Monty Program, SkySQL, Continuent, Tokutek, and more) to make a conference that would be useful for everyone. Percona refused to work with us (the core team being myself, Giuseppe Maxia and Sarah Novotny) and made their own conference. By calling it “Percona Live” they ensured that Oracle would not be able to send representatives, because Percona is a direct competitor to Oracle (it can be argued that they called it “Percona Live” because it’s a continuation of their conference series; however, the fact remains that the name ensures Oracle cannot send employees). Percona refused to change the branding of the event, which was the one block Oracle had against sending their employees.
Percona Live is not the place to see MySQL engineers within Oracle, which has more software engineers working on MySQL than Percona and Monty Program combined. Roadmap discussions are rare, and only happen when a community member decides to do the best they can and figure out the roadmap. Therefore, Percona Live: MySQL Conference and Expo is a deliberate move by Percona to fracture the community.
But there are plenty of other very big reasons I am not submitting to Percona Live:
- I do not need to go. For several years I worked in consulting firms, and Percona Live is a great place to go to meet potential new customers.
- A big reason I speak is to help people learn. I am doing that in many ways – blogging, publishing the weekly OurSQL podcast, and next year from January through the end of March, teaching MySQL beginners through the free MySQL Marinate program.
- I am also submitting to speak at conferences I have never spoken at (or not spoken at in several years) such as SCALE (social linux expo), Confoo and some Oracle conferences such as the annual one held by the New Zealand Oracle User Group. And those conferences are just for the first quarter of 2013.
- Percona Live is full of fantastic speakers. Other conferences, like the ones listed in the previous bullet point, do not traditionally have the same level of MySQL expertise at them. By speaking at those conferences, I can bring in something that’s missing. Speaking at Percona Live, I am one of many MySQL experts. I feel I have more value to give the other conferences.
- All these projects are a lot of work. By not speaking at Percona Live: MySQL Conference and Expo, I can hopefully restore some of the energy that I use for the free MySQL Marinate program, the weekly OurSQL podcast, and the other conferences I am (or hope to be) speaking at.
At the end of the day, my personal mission is to help people, and not speaking at Percona Live: MySQL Conference and Expo really does not change that mission. Hopefully this post explains my reasons for not submitting, so that 1) the community does not think my proposals were rejected when my name does not appear on the speaker list and 2) if the conference committee was wondering why they had not seen proposals by me, now they know why, and that they will not be seeing any from me.