JavaZone 2008 was yet another great success. Two days, ~2300 geeks, 6 tracks and 100 sessions. This was my sixth time in a row attending the conference.
The conference has grown rapidly from ~400 people in 2003 at Chateau Neuf. The conference then moved to Radisson SAS at Holbergs plass, with ~900 people in 2004, ~1000 in 2005 and ~1400 in 2006. When Radisson SAS was too small to host the conference, JavaZone was moved to Spektrum in 2007 and the number of delegates could be lifted to ~2300. From a technical point of view JavaZone 2008 was more or less exactly as in 2007, the capacity has already been reached. The amazing thing is that the conference has been completely sold out every year, usually several weeks before the event. So where to go next?
I believe that as long as the program commitee does a good job to renew itself, it is in theory possible to keep the current format for another couple of years. Even if the arrangement is exactly the same, people will come as long as the program changes every year. However, how fun is it to arrange the same thing over and over again? Given a decline in the funfactor for the organisers, greed will sneak in and erode enthusiasm and positive attitude. For people motivated by money greed is usually not a problem, but JavaZone is a community driven conference based on a lot of voluntary work – greed will destroy. The dilemma is that JavaZone might die if it continues to follow its winning strategy.
I propose to move the conference to another city next year. Let a local javaBin group be responsible for arranging JavaZone in their home town. I would surely concider to travel a bit to attend JavaZone myself. Actually, I think I would very much enjoy travelling and staying at a hotel with friends from Oslo and meeting local geeks in a new city. Arranging JavaZone in another city will probably also reduce the size of the conference. But so what? A 600 delegate conference in Stavanger, say, might be just as valuable as a 6000 delegate conference near Oslo. Or, perhaps JavaZone 2009 should be in Trondheim, as a kind of a preparation for XP2010?