The last couple of months have been chock full of conferences, SharePints, streaming media events, SharePoint 2010 teasers, and of course the massive preparations for fantasy football! The icing on the cake for me was the recently-ended Best Practices Conference 2009 (BPC) in Washington, DC. As SharePoint 2010 creeps closer towards public disclosure, this was the last conference before the proverbial SharePoint mecca, SharePoint Conference 2009 in Vegas (SPC09). Although the BPC is not new, it was certainly a different experience for all who attended, especially those who were not able to make it.

If you haven’t been following the #bpc09 hashtag on twitter (or have no idea what a twitter hashtag is), then you may not have known that the entire conference was covered live by several of us who were able to attend. Mark Miller, founder and editor of EndUserSharePoint.com, and Bamboo Nation organized a live media platform that allowed volunteers to live blog the sessions and various conference events. If you’ve ever been to a SharePoint conference, then you know how difficult it is to keep up on everything going on. Our community is fortunate to have some of the greatest speakers around, and this frequently makes it difficult to choose between competing sessions. The live blogging platform allows you to catch up on anything you’ve missed as it is instantly archived. With multiple feeds active, following specific tracks was effortless. Many thanks to Mark Miller and the volunteers who made it happen! The archives are now online for your perusal. And you can also check out my flickr feed and youtube videos that include live SharePoint 2010 demo images and a must-see video of Dux Raymond Sy performing SharePoint is Nice, Nice Baby.

For me, this conference represented a paradigm shift in the way content and ideas were shared and delivered at a technical event. And I think that conference organizers need to pay close attention to how these things are evolving. Although there is no substitution for the experience of being at the conference and networking with great people, many of us do not have the time or money to indulge ourselves fully. Some of my colleagues and I agree that there is a legitimate market for live streaming passes for these conferences. With an “a la carte pass” available, virtual conference attendees could pick and choose the sessions that they’d like to see and pay a reduced price for their consumption. These sessions could also be resold after the event in an on-demand fashion. And although there are providers out there like DevConnections.com, who offer single session videos; they are not the live sessions from the actual conference. The trade-off is studio-recorded quality for real-world participatory learning.

During the BPC, Mark Miller was able to live stream several sessions including Todd Bleeker’s popular and intense session on SharePoint web part development. With many viewers watching from their office or home, it was very easy to see the value in doing this globally. Even though it was streamed for free, courtesy of Mark, many would have gladly paid a minimal fee for the content if that was the only option. In my opinion, the bar is being raised for SharePoint session quality, and why should it only be enjoyed by the 40-50 people who were able to see it live?

In conclusion, BPC09 was a great success for the SharePoint community and was a nice warm up for SPC09 in October. I met so many awesome people for the first time that there are too many to list! Fortunately some of my colleagues have authored their own recap posts outlining their experiences at the conference.

Check them out!

Paul Culmsee – BPC 09 August Wrap-up

Ruven Gotz – Why are SharePoint conferences so much fun? (My Best Practices ’09 recap)

John Anderson – Celebrating the Marriage of Knowledge and Creativity at the Best Practices Conference

Lori Gowin – Best Practices Conference – Recap