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Rick Heiges

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Where do 100-Level Sessions belong at PASS?

Now that the PASS Summit 2014 is over, I remember having a hard time deciding which sessions to attend and can't wait for the USB to arrive.  This year, I was on the Program Committee for the first time ever.  I would recommend the experience to all speakers or potential speakers at some point.  I know with the explosion of SQL Saturday events that many more people have had to wrestle with how to choose content.  The Program Committee has the main goal of selecting the content that will drive people to the Summit.  There is a set of criteria that influences the the final selection that includes "Balance".  Balance among many items such as # of new speakers, topics/subtopics, and level to mention a few. 

During the Summit, I like to ask questions of attendees about their experience and often ask specific questions arond the content they are consuming.  One attendee that I have seen for many years keeps coming back to the Summit for the 400-500 level sessions; he just wishes that we'd have more of them.  I also make a special effort to ask First Timers about their experience as well and their thoughts around the level of content.  The general response form this group is "Awsome!", but then I dig in a little deeper and ask about level.  For this population, they are very happy with the 200-300 level material for the most part.  A couple that I spoke with are very happy with 100 level because they are just so new to their role. But I did have some of the First Timers tell me that they avoid 100 level because they can get that material elsewhere.

I started to think about this a bit.  Does 100 level content belong at the PASS Summit?  IMHO, it depends... If there is a new technology/feature that needs introduction, then yes I believe 100 content can be valuable at the Summit.  Topics such as Normalization Basics or Indexing Basics should not be at the Summit because that material should have been covered at a SQL Saturday, Chapter Meeting, or Webinar.  Is that it? No, I believe the track of the Summit that could benefit from more introductory sessions would be the Professional Development track.  The reason I see that it is beneficial for lower level content at the Summit it has a "Data Professional" spin and many of us don't think about some of these topics on a daily basis.  I attended 2.5 Prof Dev sessions last week and gave a 10 Minute Lightning Talk on Interviewing.  The information that was presented was not all that deep from my point of view, but it generated some good discussions.

Is there any other track at the PASS Summit where 100 level topics are appropriate or do they all belong somewhere else?

Published Thursday, November 13, 2014 11:24 AM by RickHeiges

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K. Brian Kelley said:

Do we have attendance numbers on the 100 level sessions that were presented at PASS? That would be a better indicator. If the sessions are well-attended, that would indicate they're probably needed at PASS. OTOH, if they aren't, that would suggest that the minimum level should be 200 with the exceptions you noted.

November 14, 2014 9:52 AM

RickHeiges said:

@KBK - PASS has the room monitor count attendees.  I'm sure that they take that into consideration.  Aslo, on my subcommittee, I do not recall rating a 100 level session highly enough to be considered.  We may already have a "filter" there.

November 14, 2014 11:31 AM

Anonymous said:

I don't think there is enough demand at PASS, except for very new features. SQL Saturdays, OTOH, should definitely feature more 100-level stuff.

November 14, 2014 4:20 PM

Brent Ozar said:

Judging by the first-day keynotes I sit through every year, I've got a pretty good idea of where 100-level sessions go.

November 19, 2014 3:39 PM

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