I attended the Web 2.0 conference this week and was pleasantly surprised.  The format is fast, energetic and covers a lot of ground, but the atmosphere was very relaxed.  In contrast to traditional tech conferences such as HIMSS, Web 2.0 has a very different structure.  Keynotes are 15 minutes each, and the keynotes speeches are given back to back in 1.5 hours.

For some presentations, there is an unusual “ignite” format where the presenter has 20 slides that are automatically advanced every 15 seconds. It’s challenging for the presenter to make a point on each slide, but it was done very well and it’s quite nice to get to the point rapidly and finish a topic quickly.  In presentations, many attendees would hold up their phones and take pictures of the slides on the big screen – a testament to the quality of mobile phone cameras and a faster way of taking notes.

Lunch was provided (included in the fee) so attendees didn’t have to stand in long lines to purchase food.  Even the coffee service was different. Instead of the usual tables of coffee urns, there were servers with tanks of coffee strapped to their backs dispensing coffee through a nozzle!

There were many open areas with tables and chairs and outlets where you could meet with other people, digest information or catch up with work between sessions.

All of this contributed to a good conference experience that didn’t make the attendee feel more stressed. I felt I could focus on learning.  Congratulations to the organizers Tech Web and O’Reilly Media for organizing an innovative format.