Are you curious about how we selected the speakers for Pacific Northwest PHP 2017? You’re in luck! You’re about to find out! My favorite part organizing PNWPHP, is the speaker selection and crafting the schedule. It is the heart of the conference. It’s the key piece of the conference experience.
Do you prefer single track or multi-track? What is possible at your venue? What is your budget? How many days will your conference be? What is important to you? Those are just a few things that affect speaker selection.
One thing I think is important, is for people to share their experience and perspective. People should be able to talk about the talk they just watched. A multi-track conference makes that difficult. Someone may have seen a different talk than you. When most of the attendees probably won’t know each other, it’s good to be able to have something they can easily talk about. This is the main reason why I prefer the single track conference.
We wanted to attract as diverse a speaker pool as possible. I feel like we succeeded. We had so many great talks submitted from all over the world – some well known speakers, some new speakers – at least they were new to me. I’m still learning about people in the PHP community. We had a diverse selection of both speakers and topics, which pleased us.
The selection of speakers was done by Tessa and myself. I thought about asking for help from some of the people in the PHP community with speaker selection. However, some of them run competing conferences. Some of them submitted to speak at PNWPHP. It didn’t feel right to ask people from either set for help with selection.
We used the OpenCFP project for our submissions. It uses a thumbs up/down method of grading. Tessa and I independently voted on all the talks. Then we limited our initial pool to the talks where we both voted thumbs up. That still left us with about 100 talks. Then Tessa and I went through, each picking our top 10 as a starting point. The talks that matched, we placed on the schedule. Then we evaluated the other top rated talks. Once we tentatively selected all the talks, we organized them within the schedule.
We wanted a broad range of topics, but also a cohesive way to present it. We were both drawn to the more practical talks, but there some great soft talks we thought were important. Being a developer is about more than code. Just like the web is more than just PHP. We’re hoping that this year’s lineup will also interest developers from other communities. We wanted create the best experience for the audience. I think we succeeded.
We’re really excited about the schedule we’ve put together. Check it out for yourself, and I think you will be too.