I have a pretty good idea what you’re thinking… you’re saying to yourself “Here goes Jared, reminding me of all the things I need to remember about FUDCon”. Well, this is a FUDCon reminder, but I’ll leave the logistics details aside for a moment, and invite you to prepare for FUDCon in other ways. I’m sure others will remind you of the logistical items you’ve forgotten about. (You did remember to sign up ahead of time for the wireless internet access at Virginia Tech, right?)
Prepare to Learn
One of the things I most enjoy about the Fedora Users and Developers Conference is the chance to learn in a fast-paced environment from people who do amazing things every day. That learning doesn’t come by accident, however. I learned at my first FUDCon that you really need to prepare ahead of time to be able to take advantage of all there is to learn at FUDCon. So, write down a short list of topics you’d like to learn about. Write down a list of questions you’d like to ask your fellow Fedora contributors. Look at the list of workshops, and start planning which ones you would like to attend. And when we organize the barcamp portion of the conference on Saturday morning, pay attention to the sessions that are pitched and be prepared to vote for the sessions you are most likely to attend.
I’ve seen from sad experience that if you don’t plan ahead for learning, you’ll end up spending too much time checking your email or chatting with your friend in the hallway (more on the hallway track below!), and miss out on a great opportunity to learn and grow.
Prepare to Share
I’ve talked briefly about learning at FUDCon, but that must mean there’s another side to the coin: If there are people to learn, then there must be people willing to teach as well. This is one reason why the barcamp session at FUDCon is truly amazing, because anybody can stand up and propose a session. It always helps if you have something prepared to share, or know the material well enough that you can do a presentation without any formal preparation, but that’s not an absolute requirement. I do encourage you, however, to spend some time thinking about the things you have that you could teach to other participants, and then come prepared to share your knowledge with others.
I’d also like you to think about ways you can share the FUDCon experience with those who aren’t able to make it to the conference. All the usual suspects (blog posts, microblogging such as identi.ca or Twitter, social networking, IRC channels) are there and available to help us share with those who are participating vicariously.
Prepare to Socialize
Another important aspect of FUDCon is the chance to get to know your fellow Fedorans better. So even though I told you earlier to plan ahead so that you don’t get stuck in the “hallway track” at FUDCon, I must confess that the hallway track is an important part of the conference. Perhaps as important as the technical bits. Getting to know your fellow contributors helps build trust in our community, and helps to smooth over the rough patches that we encounter from time to time. Sometimes being able to put a face and a name with an IRC handle makes all the difference. There are a number of activities on the schedule specifically designed to help you get to know your (virtual) neighbors a bit better, and I’m sure some people will come up with unscheduled activities as well.
So bring your HAM radio, or your DSLR, or your latest robotics kit, or your hot dog costume. Bring your favorite keyboard or input device… and then don’t be afraid to say hello to those around you. And if you see me, say hi! (I’ll be the guy playing amateur photographer and generally trying to make sure things go smoothly.)
Prepare to Work
Last but not least, I ask each of you to come to FUDCon prepared to work. Yes, we have a good time at FUDCon. Yes, we learn and share and grow. But at the end of the day, FUDCon is about making forward progress, and moving us one step closer to our goals. Yes, talk is important, and conversation is crucial. It’s only if we put those ideas into action that FUDCon is truly successful. If you’re a part of a steering committee or a special interest group in Fedora, prepare to set a plan for the upcoming year. If you’re not yet a member of a special interest group, you might want to join one at FUDCon, and take the first step to becoming more involved.
I can’t wait to spend time with many of you at FUDCon this coming weekend, and hope to meet the rest of you someday at a future event.
(Thanks to María “tatica” Leandro and Kushal Das for sharing their FUDCon photos with me.)