[jdom-interest] JavaOne presentations (flame)

Jason Hunter jhunter at acm.org
Sun Feb 10 18:11:30 PST 2002

I just have to vent, and this crowd seems like a fine place to vent
about this particular thing.

I'm presenting a talk on JDOM at JavaOne this year, and Oh My God, the
slide submittal process is horrid.  Absolutely draconian.  Unlike *every
other conference* I've spoken at (dozens), at JavaOne there are people
who critique your slides on various Rules.  These Rules are definitely
smart guidelines but at JavaOne they are literally *Rules*.  If you
don't pass each and every rule down the line, they don't let you give
you talk.

One sample rule:  You need a graphic on at least one out of every 6
pages.  Need it or not, appropriate or not, you need a graphic.  It's
supposed to keep your audience awake.  Well, I guess I have to come up
with a graphic for the section where I compare JDOM with DOM.  Any
ideas?  I wonder if a picture from Anna Kournikova's new calendar would

Another rule:  You should have no more than six words per bullet point. 
Wait, did I say "should"?  I mean MUST as in the W3C spec meaning of the
word.  Nothing longer than six words is <oops, cut, can't say anymore>.

That last one really bugs me.  I personally find JavaOne slides 100%
useless after the talk because of this rule.  I've downloaded slides in
years past from talks I couldn't attend.  Here's what you get:

* JVM Performance In Process
* Garbage Collection In Real Time

Oh yeah, I'm really learning now.  They say this rule is to keep the
point size up so you can read the slides during the show, but seems to

* If you're in the show you're listening, not reading
* If you're not in the show, you can only read

(Notice the effective use of 9 word bullets there.)

So with big point sizes you can read my outline during the show, but
after I'm done talking, all the points are lost.

I was proud and I stood my moral ground and flaunted the rules -- I used
graphics only when I needed graphics and I tried to actually *say
something* with each bullet point.  But no.  The people reviewing the
talks actually counted my words and my graphic densities.  I failed. 
I'm told I need to revise now.

What's really ironic is last year the same basic slide outline was
accepted.  I was just unlucky enough this year to get the Presentation
Nazi.  I can almost hear him yell:  "No presentation for you, one year!"

Maybe you're thinking I should obligingly bow to the "Rules" and be
tricky and bring my own slides in on a laptop on the presentation day. 
No can do; they're on to that!  You can't bring your own laptop to
present.  Every other conference I've spoken at lets you.  Why not at
JavaOne?  They say it's to keep things simpler to setup, but really how
simple is it for me to load JDOM examples on their machine versus my
own??  Here's my theory: if anyone ever tries to make The Training
Alliance Nazis (tm) look bad (you know, someone in a bad mood -- try to
picture it), they'll know beforehand and have some leverage to encourage
you to change your slides.

I agree these guidelines make sense in general, but can we give the
speakers no credit?  The best talks I've ever attended have slides that
don't in any way follow the JavaOne Rules.  And some of the worst talks
I've ever attended have been at JavaOne.  Maybe they're trying to raise
up the quality of these poor talks by rigidly enforcing these rules.  I
think it's more likely they're creating poor talks by enforcing these

Ah well.  At least I can still say what I want on stage.  Um, probably. 
I'll let you know if they actually let me speak live on stage or if it's
a tape recording.


P.S.  Sun speakers suffer from this just as much as outside people. 
This is another reason why no one at Sun looks very happy the month
before JavaOne.

P.P.S.  The slides haven't even gone to legal review yet.  Last year in
legal review they changed "JDOM" to "The Document Object Model for Java"
on me and for a long time refused to change it back.  You'd think they
would believe I knew the name of my project.

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