Tales from the Booth #2 (or, Another Time I Worked a Tech Conference)

The sound of no hands clapping.

Reading about a recent tech conference fiasco today reminded me of a…memorable day at a Code Camp in Fullerton, California about a decade ago.

The company I worked for was getting our feet wet running sessions. It gave us something to do besides just sitting behind a sponsor table all day (they’re called “booths,” but at Code Camps they were always tables).

Our first two sessions took place at a Code Camp on the University of Southern California campus, “Getting started with TFS,” and “Q & A with a hosting provider.” Both sessions were well attended, and we considered them to be successful.

So for a Code Camp at Fullerton we thought we would offer up the same “Q & A with a hosting provider” session we’d done at USC. The organizers were excited to have us, and we were excited to do the session. Or, you know, as excited as you can be for a tech conference session.

When we arrived we were led to a slightly larger room than we’d filled at USC. Not a problem, I thought, it’s a good presentation, and there were a lot of attendees. We might not fill the room, but we’ll do okay.

But when the start time rolled around, the hoards did not descend on us. In fact, ten minutes into the talk the audience looked like this:

The sound of no hands clapping.

Wait, did I say “audience”? Those are my coworkers, the people who were giving the talk.

A total of zero people showed up.

That’s not entirely true, one young woman came in looking for a quiet place to eat her lunch. Our room was certainly quiet, so we told her to choose any seat she liked and make herself at home.

So that happened.

And I wrote about it on the company blog. Because, why not? Our communications were pretty transparent, and if we fucked something up, I always wrote about it. We didn’t fuck up the Code Camp presentation, but come on, no one showing up is funny.

It didn’t feel funny for the first few minutes, but when someone comes in to your attendee-less session, not to hear you speak, but looking for a place to eat their lunch, you have to see the humor in the situation.

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I think I have one more semi-interesting conference story to tell, so stay tuned to the world’s most intermittent blog for that thrilling tale!


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