I'm just back from StrangeLoop and the first word that springs to mind to describe it is ... Strange. It's definitely a unique conference, covering a breadth of topics that used to be the mainstay of events like this two decades ago, before we had the more targeted efforts we see today. In some ways it worked really well: I sat in many sessions and learned a lot about things I probably wouldn't have known about any other way. But in other ways it felt confused and rushed. Some of the talk, mine included, were pushed to just 25 minutes, which is not enough time for most topics. And then there was little to pull the individual sessions together into a coherent message or theme. There were tracks, but they were often split across many different rooms requiring people to move around a lot; this may be a good thing to encourage mingling, but it can also be confusing if the "tracks" have sessions in parallel. At the end of the first day I knew I'd been in many interesting sessions, but most of the time I wanted to hear more and couldn't. As someone with me mentioned, it was like eating tapas!
Now don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at StrangeLoop and come away with ideas I may not have had otherwise. But I can't help feeling that I was either missing something or that the conference was. However, the venue in the Peabody Opera House was great!
But after three weeks of traveling back and forth across the Atlantic, my last image summarised how I felt sitting in the airport on the way home.