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Why I Take Pictures at Conferences


I recently returned from my first SQL Intersection

conference (of which more in subsequent posts), but I saw an interesting

question posted on Twitter by Brent Ozar, basically asking why we take them and

if there was anything that they could do to make our workflow easier.  Confession:

I am an inveterate picture taker at conferences.

First of all, I love that he even thinks of asking the

question.  Brent is one of those rare

people who has the gift of executive management as well as technical

instruction, which is a mindset that I am trying to better cultivate.  Rather than replying to the Twitter thread, I

thought I would share my answer here, so that the discussion might reach an

audience that wasn’t there for this particular conference, but who might have

thoughts and ideas to share.

I started a Twitter account when I began writing this

blog.  Yes, I am really late to the

game.  I quickly realized what I had been

missing.  What an invaluable

communication forum! Yes, I am probably

way too easily entertained.  But I

remember the days before Internet, and I am still thankful. SQL

Intersection is an information-packed conference from the best and brightest in

the industry – think Bob Ward, Kimberly Tripp, Paul Randal, Brent, Grant

Fritchey, to name a few.  I had two

colleagues who were unable to attend, and I wanted a quick and easy way to share

highlights with them as well as to remind myself.  So while in the past, I would have just taken

a picture and then gone back and added notes, I was now armed with a better

alternative. How quick and easy it is to just take a picture and tweet a

comment!  Note taking and information

sharing with colleagues in seconds. 

Can’t beat that with a stick. 

I know how my brain works – maybe yours does this as well.  You go to a conference where you know you will be absorbing technical information all day long for three to five days on end.  Meanwhile, the clock hands inside the subconscious are ticking away (furiously now, because there is much more activity than usual going on).  You go straight from keynote to class to class to class, hearing in-depth information about varying topics. It won’t take any time at all for a lot of information to be flushed right out of cache.  For me, it’s a question of how much I can retain. Since my company has paid good money for me to attend, I’d obviously like to retain as much as possible.  So for me, this combination of picture taking + Twitter was fantastic.  Added bonus:  it has the capacity to start conversations about the topics, helping me to get better information and retain it more effectively!  Also, if I misunderstood anything, I can be set straight before it gets embedded.

My brain at the end of a week-long conference

So, what could be done to better help workflow?  I am a fan of having slide decks available at

the time of presentation.  I also love

what PASS has done in making all the presentations available to attendees.  They do it via USB, but certainly other forms

of access would work.  The idea would be

to be able to revisit all the good information received and brush up once the

brain burn subsides.

Time to bounce it to you guys.  Any thoughts?

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