As some of you may know, last year Charles and I rented a conference room at the Parc 55 hotel during WWDC and invited some of our close friends to come watch the sessions as they were being released. As with most things we do together, the idea was entirely Charles’, and it was brilliant. Everyone pitched in, from chipping in for the cost of the room, to lending us some equipment (including a portable projector, speakers, and some Karma hotspots). We had a great time, and we learned a ton. I don’t recall ever watching so many WWDC session videos so early after their release before.
Almost immediately after we got started on the first day (and had a standing-room only audience for the Keynote and State of the Union talks) it became apparent that this should be something bigger. The folks at AltConf agreed, and we decided that we should talk about joining forces the following year.
AltConf has become an institution during WWDC week. I was there for the first year at Stack Mob’s headquarters, when Alt was just getting started. And I’ve been to every rendition since. This year’s event is going to top all the previous years and then some.
Were there benefits to a small group of nerds watching these videos on our own over the course of a few days? No doubt. The discussions we had that week were invaluable, and there was a magical, small, intimacy to our little renegade project.
But there are far more benefits to us doing our “viewing room” at AltConf this year. First, it’ll be free for everyone. We don’t need to pool our pocket change together to get a space. Second, it’ll be accessible to everyone who attends AltConf. You don’t need to be in the “in” crowd or know one of us to benefit. Many more people will happen upon our room and enjoy the event, thanks to AltConf’s never-ending commitment to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all. Third, the theater rooms at the Metreon are several times larger than our little conference room at the Parc 55, so many more people can see the videos at once. We’ll be watching the sessions in a movie theater. The screen is gigantic, and the sound system isn’t two little laptop speakers. Finally, the location is far more convenient. We’re right across the street from Moscone West, and the AltConf talks will be happening in the same building. You can bounce back and forth between watching video sessions and watching the great talks going on in one of the other rooms. (Did I mention, I’m also giving a talk at AltConf?) I missed so many great talks at Alt last year because I had to walk twenty minutes between our little room at the Parc and the AltConf location. This year, that won’t be a problem.
I say to my friends every year, “Just be in San Francisco that week. It’s always worth the trip.” And I believe that. WWDC may not ever be able to expand beyond the few lucky people who get tickets, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a non-stop, week-long celebration of our love of Apple in the same city. I’m proud that Release Notes can play a small role in making that celebration even better this year.
UPDATE: There is one sponsorship slot available for our viewing room. We’re looking for a good company to help us make this viewing room a great event for everyone. Get in touch with AltConf if you are interested.