When we opened the call at the end of May I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Based on the anticipated size of the conference, other conferences in the area, etc, I had in mind that we might get around 50 submissions. 30 would be enough, I told myself. With three tracks, given the current plan for timing, we have 24 slots for full length talks - so with 30 we'd be turning down a few but, I'm sure, would still be able to put on a great conference. With 50 we'd have a harder job of choosing, but we'd surely be able to put on an even better programme.
So I was blown away when the final count of submissions just after the close of the Call for Speakers was over 100 submissions!
Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to submit their proposals. Even if you don't make the final selection yours has been a valuable contribution to our first programme.
This is going to give the review team a really big job - and I'm now thinking of how best to make that easier for them (I had expected to be able to keep it fairly low tech for this iteration). But, for the sake of the conference itself, that's a really good problem to have!
The plan is for the review period to run to early September. I'm aiming for the first week, but am keeping that deliberately non-commital as we work out how we're going to run this. As a speaker at many conferences myself I appreciate that when you're waiting to hear whether you're in (especially if you know there is a lot of competition) it's really nice to have a fixed date in mind. On the other hand having a fixed date that comes and goes with no news can be even worse. So as soon as we have a better idea of what is realistic we'll publish dates. We'll still be notifying speakers much earlier than average.
At time of this writing the ticketing system is being finalised, and that should go online shortly for early-bird tickets. Expect another announcement soon for that. Given the number of speaker submissions, one thing we're considering now is whether to add an extra track. One other indicator that can help us there is sales of early-bird tickets. If they seem popular that's a good sign that an extra track could be worthwhile. Of course we'll need to make that decision before the final list of speakers is drawn up.
-- Phil Nash, conference chair