Wednesday 26 October 2011

My SC11 diary 5

I enjoy seeing the reactions of people attending SC for the first time. Perhaps being used to only attending other HPC events around the world, they are unprepared for the scale of the event.

Especially the exhibition. I am sure people get lost in there - properly lost, not just the few minutes disorientation that we all get several times in the SC11 week as we traverse the show floor looking for a specific booth or exit. Each year, I remember by about the 3rd day (but not the 1st!) that the booth numbers are partly logical - they are related to the rows/columns of the booth location within the hall. How handy for navigation!

The technical program can be daunting too - half way through the week you can still be finding entirely new unvisited corners of the convention complex where a workshop or BoF has decided your eligibility to attend will be judged by your ability to find it :-).

Or worse, for those who don't have full conference passes (e.g. only exhibitor, or technical program but not tutorials, etc.) suddenly find their way barred by a polite guardian who is happy to confirm that yes, the exit to the building is just 20 feet in front of you, but I'm sorry you can't pass this rope to get to it, because a room 200 yards around the corner had a tutorial in it yesterday and you don't have a tutorial badge.

OK, maybe a personal experience the previous year affected my last paragraph!

And then people can still be surprised by the amount of off-site meetings taking place - most of the meeting rooms in the major hotels within several blocks of the convention center will be booked out for the week. Many of these are used by the vendor community to host a series of meetings for customers and potential customers to learn more about their products, technologies and plans.

Finally, the many social (sorry networking) events. With so few days and so many choices of high quality networking reception, private dinners, etc., it becomes hard to select the right events to attend, or the right people to take dinner with. Sometimes duty pushes the choices one way. Sometimes we get to choose the company of people who look likely to make an enjoyable evening. Occasionally the two even combine :-) I am lucky this year to have mostly the latter (enjoyable) planned.

There is so much to participate in at SC11 that there is sometimes a sense of responsibility to choose wisely and make the best of it all; but also it is worth remembering that, with so many options, there is plenty of scope to both do good work and have a good time.

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