24 Hours of PASS – first reflections

March 26, 2012

A few days after the end of 24HOP, I find myself reflecting on it.

I’m still waiting on most of the information. I want to be able to discover things like where the countries represented on each of the sessions, and things like that. So far, I have the feedback scores and the numbers of attendees. The data was provided in a PDF, so while I wait for it to appear in a more flexible format, I’ve pushed the 24 attendee numbers into Excel.


This chart shows the numbers by time. Remember that we started at midnight GMT, which was 10:30am in my part of the world and 8pm in New York. It’s probably no surprise that numbers drooped a bit at the start, stayed comparatively low, and then grew as the larger populations of the English-speaking world woke up.

I remember last time 24HOP ran for 24 hours straight, there were quite a few sessions with less than 100 attendees. None this time though. We got close, but even when it was 4am in New York, 8am in London and 7pm in Sydney (which would have to be the worst slot for attracting people), we still had over 100 people tuning in.

As expected numbers grew as the UK woke up, and even more so as the US did, with numbers peaking at 755 for the “3pm in New York” session on SQL Server Data Tools. Kendra Little almost reached those numbers too, and certainly contributed the biggest ‘spike’ on the chart with her session five hours earlier. Of all the sessions, Kendra had the highest proportion of ‘Excellent’s for the “Overall Evaluation of the session” question, and those of you who saw her probably won’t be surprised by that. Kendra had one of the best ranked sessions from the 24HOP event this time last year (narrowly missing out on being top 3), and she has produced a lot of good video content since then.

The reports indicate that there were nearly 8.5 thousand attendees across the 24 sessions, averaging over 350 at each one. I’m looking forward to seeing how many different people that was, although I do know that Wil Sisney managed to attend every single one (if you did too, please let me know). Wil even moderated one of the sessions, which made his feat even greater. Thanks Wil.

I also want to send massive thanks to Dave Dustin. Dave probably would have attended all of the sessions, if it weren’t for a power outage that forced him to take a break. He was also a moderator, and it was during this session that he earned special praise. Part way into the session he was moderating, the speaker lost connectivity and couldn’t get back for about fifteen minutes. That’s an incredibly long time when you’re in a live presentation. There were over 200 people tuned in at the time, and I’m sure Dave was as stressed as I was to have a speaker disappear. I started chasing down a phone number for the speaker, while Dave spoke to the audience. And he did brilliantly. He started answering questions, and kept doing that until the speaker came back. Bear in mind that Dave hadn’t expected to give a presentation on that topic (or any other), and was simply drawing on his SQL expertise to get him through. Also consider that this was between midnight at 1am in Dave’s part of the world (Auckland, NZ). I would’ve been expecting just to welcome people, monitor questions, probably read some out, and in general, help make things run smoothly. He went far beyond the call of duty, and if I had a medal to give him, he’d definitely be getting one.

On the whole, I think this 24HOP was a success. We tried a different platform, and I think for the most part it was a popular move. We didn’t ask the question “Was this better than LiveMeeting?”, but we did get a number of people telling us that they thought the platform was very good.

Some people have told me I get a chance to put my feet up now that this is over. As I’m also co-ordinating a tour of SQLSaturday events across the Australia/New Zealand region, I don’t quite get to take that much of a break (plus, there’s the little thing of squeezing in seven SQL 2012 exams over the next 2.5 weeks). But I am pleased to be reflecting on this event rather than anticipating it. There were a number of factors that could have gone badly, but on the whole I’m pleased about how it went. A massive thanks to everyone involved.

If you’re reading this and thinking you wish you could’ve tuned in more, don’t worry – they were all recorded and you’ll be able to watch them on demand very soon. But as well as that, PASS has a stream of content produced by the Virtual Chapters, so you can keep learning from the comfort of your desk all year round. More info on them at sqlpass.org, of course.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kendra Little

    I attended five sessions other than my own and was really impressed. I thought it was a *great* event.
    Thanks very much for your comments on my session, I’m so glad others enjoyed it. I had a blast. My moderator and session team worked like a well oiled machine and were super-helpful in making sure everything was working perfectly, and it was really fun working with them.
    If anyone out there reading this is thinking of starting to become a speaker, I really encourage you to try your hand at it. Start small at local user groups or SQLSaturday events, and then go ahead and get started presenting for virtual PASS chapters online. You may just find that you love doing it.
    Many thanks to YOU, Rob, and all the moderators, organizers, and the whole 24 Hours of PASS team and speakers for providing so much free training.  It’s great to be a part of this terrific event.

  2. Nabeel Derhem

    +1 to Kendra, it was a great event and Rob managed it brilliantly. I was the SSDT speaker, and I felt everything went perfect in my session. I’ve watched a couple of other sessions and the feedback I got from the people I know makes me say with confident that this was the best 24HOP so far.
    Thanks to my moderator David Taylor, speakers, and everyone in 24HOP team, and special thanks to you Rob.
    I’m proud to have taken part in this event.

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