This year I was introduced to the Pecha Kucha presentation format. For those not familiar with it, Pecha Kucha (pronounced peh-cha koo-cha) originated in Japan and translates as “the sound of conversation” or “chit-chat”. A Pecha Kucha presentation lasts only 6 minutes and 40 seconds and is made up of 20 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds.
I became aware of the Pecha Kucha format when Bob Silverberg, everyone’s favorite Canadian ColdFusion developer, volunteered to put on a Pecha Kucha BOF session at the CF.Objective() conference. Typically, Pecha Kucha sessions are about something the presenter is passionate about or deeply involved in. Ben Nadel talked about people-centric software design. Steve Withington talked about beer. There were a few other topics, though unsurprisingly, most were technical in nature. At the time, I was under quite a bit of stress and so I wrote my presentation on stress and how I manage it.
Personally, I thought the format was excellent. The crowd was really into the presentations and energetic, laughing and cheering at all the right places. Since then I’ve given the presentation two other times with a similar feeling.
One of the things I like about the format is that it forces the presenter to be concise and get their point across as quickly, clearly, and efficiently as possible. Additionally, if I’m uninterested in a presentation I only have to wait about five minutes for it to be over.
Since giving these presentations I’ve pondered what would happen if you crossed a technical conference with Pecha Kucha? Let’s face it, there’s way too much new information in the technology world to keep up with effectively. You could read blogs all day long and still not be up to date on the majority of what’s new.
If we don’t know what’s new then we’re stagnating. For this reason I’m seriously thinking about putting on a language agnostic tech conference. I’ve loosely titled this “Pecha Kucha Con.” The idea is that the conference would be either one or two days with only one track. Each presentation would be 6 minutes and 40 seconds long on a topic that no other speaker would be talking about. The purpose of these talks would be to give the audience a small slice of information about this topic and just enough to get started researching it, if they’re interested.
I’m thinking that in one day you would have approximately 27 presentations grouped in fours. So, for example, from 10:00 am to 10:30 you’d have four presentations. There would be fifteen-minute breaks every 30 minutes for refreshments and networking. Add in a long lunch and morning and evening networking events and you’ve got a lot of opportunity to get introduced to a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise find out about. Furthermore, the technology agnostic aspect would hopefully create an opportunity for cross-pollination where maybe there isn’t typically (like between, say, .NET and Erlang programmers).
I think there’s a lot more that could go with this as well. For example, make it a multi-day conference. Or have multiple tracks perhaps for programming, management, design, etc. Perhaps this conference could be held both online and offline. For example, maybe there would be a venue in RTP, NC, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, CA. Each on of these events could broadcast through Adobe Connect to each other and to the general public who might not be close to one of these areas. This would allow for very wide audience involvement and unique conference experience.
So, on the surface, do you think this sounds like an interesting idea? Do you have any additional ideas that might go along with this? I’ve purchased the domain name pechakuchacon.com… I suppose I’ll see what sort of interest there is and decide if it’s worth the effort or not.