Moving mountains

techdays-2008Mark and the Community Team at Microsoft Canada have been working hard on TechDays.This is the first attempt to move beyond a marketing event. Though you might not get that from the web site. It is a shift from Microsoft speakers standing on the stage with new product announcements and walkthroughs to sharing the stage with non-Microsoft employees showing examples of solutions they’ve built to solve problems (in big companies, small companies, as individuals, etc.).

What is TechDays?

TechDays is a career-development event for developers, IT professionals and IT managers with a focus on the Microsoft platform.

It’s hard out here…

This event is a big change for Microsoft. It represents a shift from marketing and product launch events to a focus on software development and IT as a profession. The goal is to focus on career development of professional and practical developers. To give real-world developers an opportunity to share their stories and experiences with attendees. To provide a public forum to celebrate the people making a difference to their companies, to their communities and to people.

techdays-speakersThe biggest change is that the content is not going to be Microsoft presenters doing Microsoft demos and product launches. It’s probably not obvious from looking at the speakers page, but 90% of the content is being delivered by non-Microsoft employees. The first seven people listed on the Speakers page are all Microsoft Canada employees. 

Once you scroll past the usual suspects, you’ll find a group of Microsoft friendly people from other companies. Consultancies. Big corporations. Smaller companies. Client side. It includes MVPs like Colin Bowern, Mark Arteaga, Laurent Duveau, and Barry Gervin. And others like Robert Burke and Ken Cox. Sure lots of these speakers are MVPs, it means that they are “exceptional technical community leaders”. They are experts. They write books. They blog. They consult. They build things in the real world.

Baby steps

I think it is courageous of the team to take a chance, they are having to battle internal forces that are resistant to change. They are making a bet that developers and IT professionals in Canada on the Microsoft stack want something more than canned demos and pitches. The bet is that professional development involves hearing from others in the community. About sharing their stories of the trials, tribulations and learnings to make help make others better developers. Yes, it’s about the Microsoft developers.

It is a step in the right direction. I hope that people will support the changes, because it will make the next set of changes easier to get support for.

If you are a Microsoft developer, IT professional or IT manager, then TechDays is attempting to bring the best of Canadian Microsoft community to you in 7 different locations including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg. Check out the Mark Relph’s Letter to your Manager if you need help generating support.

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  • Justice~!

    &quot;It&rsquo;s probably not obvious from looking at the speakers page, but 90% of the content is being delivered by non-Microsoft employees&quot;<br />
    <br />
    But that content is still pre-approved TechDays slides and demos that can't be altered. I noticed that this wasn't part of your post for some reason…

  • http://graysmatter.codivation.com Justice~!

    “It’s probably not obvious from looking at the speakers page, but 90% of the content is being delivered by non-Microsoft employees”

    But that content is still pre-approved TechDays slides and demos that can’t be altered. I noticed that this wasn’t part of your post for some reason…

  • Rob Burke

    @Justice~! — I have already made some changes to the content of the slides and demos I was provided to reflect recent changes to Silverlight, and my own experience working with the technologies day-to-day. I have kept the Microsoft Canada team in the loop about this and they have welcomed the updates. From speaking with their team, I am of the understanding they want us to deliver the most relevant and useful content we can for the audience. Speaking of which… I need to get that 'I'm speaking at TechDays' entry out of my blog post queue and onto my blog :)

  • http://www.robburke.net Rob Burke

    @Justice~! — I have already made some changes to the content of the slides and demos I was provided to reflect recent changes to Silverlight, and my own experience working with the technologies day-to-day. I have kept the Microsoft Canada team in the loop about this and they have welcomed the updates. From speaking with their team, I am of the understanding they want us to deliver the most relevant and useful content we can for the audience. Speaking of which… I need to get that ‘I’m speaking at TechDays’ entry out of my blog post queue and onto my blog :)

  • Justice~!

    Rob: Your understanding and my understanding of the content alterations allows differs greatly. That being said, i know that there are several presentations being updated because the original TechDays content wasn't up to the latest release (Silverlight 2 for example is a good indication and since most of the conference hinges on the Silverlight 2 push this is reasonable). However, this doesn't change my opinion on David Crows's post as I believe you are still essentially presenting the same slides/demo message frmo Tech Ed, only with a technical refresh. Am I way off base?

  • http://graysmatter.codivation.com Justice~!

    Rob: Your understanding and my understanding of the content alterations allows differs greatly. That being said, i know that there are several presentations being updated because the original TechDays content wasn’t up to the latest release (Silverlight 2 for example is a good indication and since most of the conference hinges on the Silverlight 2 push this is reasonable). However, this doesn’t change my opinion on David Crows’s post as I believe you are still essentially presenting the same slides/demo message frmo Tech Ed, only with a technical refresh. Am I way off base?

  • Rob Burke

    Justice – you're making me wonder if *I* was way off base, or otherwise, if I was unintentionally being cheeky last week! :)<br />
    <br />
    By the time I presented, I'd updated every slide in the deck and re-jigged the content, I think, significantly. Several parts of the demo were changed to reflect better practices that have been discovered or enabled due to updates to the API since SL 2 B2. I also added a couple of things which were from my own work with Silverlight (the most obvious example being the FractLOL). I think it would be pretty unfair to say I more or less parroted another presenter's talk.<br />
    <br />
    Since TechEd, Silverlight and the communities around it have grown a long ways, and what's more, I am not in the habit of blindly delivering content in someone else's style (mine: full-on 78RPM techie action with more code, less death-by-Powerpoint :) ).<br />
    <br />
    Believe me – it would have taken a lot less work if I'd just run with what I was given. We presenters definitely had the OPTION to not tweak the content. But it shouldn't be implied that Microsoft Canada prevented us from doing so. I thought I was asked to be there to give a full and frank end-to-end perspective of Silverlight 2.<br />
    <br />
    If my understanding about this was incorrect, maybe I was being bold last week without knowing it. But I didn't get any pushback from Microsoft Canada on the content I presented, so hopefully, it's all good ;)<br />
    <br />
    hope that helps<br />
    Rob

  • http://www.robburke.net Rob Burke

    Justice – you’re making me wonder if *I* was way off base, or otherwise, if I was unintentionally being cheeky last week! :)

    By the time I presented, I’d updated every slide in the deck and re-jigged the content, I think, significantly. Several parts of the demo were changed to reflect better practices that have been discovered or enabled due to updates to the API since SL 2 B2. I also added a couple of things which were from my own work with Silverlight (the most obvious example being the FractLOL). I think it would be pretty unfair to say I more or less parroted another presenter’s talk.

    Since TechEd, Silverlight and the communities around it have grown a long ways, and what’s more, I am not in the habit of blindly delivering content in someone else’s style (mine: full-on 78RPM techie action with more code, less death-by-Powerpoint :) ).

    Believe me – it would have taken a lot less work if I’d just run with what I was given. We presenters definitely had the OPTION to not tweak the content. But it shouldn’t be implied that Microsoft Canada prevented us from doing so. I thought I was asked to be there to give a full and frank end-to-end perspective of Silverlight 2.

    If my understanding about this was incorrect, maybe I was being bold last week without knowing it. But I didn’t get any pushback from Microsoft Canada on the content I presented, so hopefully, it’s all good ;)

    hope that helps
    Rob