Wiki Page | Tagboard | #WinterTechForum
Shirts & Hats | More Swag

An Open Spaces Conference

(Formerly The Java Posse Roundup)

March 6-10, 2017
Crested Butte, Colorado
Attendance limited to 70
Price: $750

A Developer Retreat will follow directly after the conference, March 11-14.
Free to WTF Attendees.

  • The roundup has been the best and most transformative conference of my life, by far. It's directly responsible for getting me where I am. -- Joe Sondow

  • Read Dianne Marsh's Summary of the 2016 WTF.

  • Photo courtesy JC Leacock

    Theme: Powering Singularity Acceleration with Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Commodity Computing

    • Machine Learning
    • TensorFlow
    • Data Science
    • Platforms for Big Data
    • Distributed Big Data Systems
    • From Big Data to Responsive Systems
    • Containerizing the Serverless Cloud
    • Tradeoffs in Software
    • Java 8 Concurrency
    • Commit To Production, Without Human Intervention
    • And lots more
    • Plus anything else anyone wants to talk about, of course
    • And our business track

    Although the theme sets the general tone of the conference, it doesn't preclude session topics that might be considered "off theme." The goal of the theme is to stimulate ideas, not to prevent discussion.

    Wednesday Hackathon

    The general theme of the hackathons are "Alternative Languages on the JVM." They will take place in either the conference venue (@PH) or the various houses that are rented by groups in town. In the past there have been Scala, Jython, JRuby and Groovy hackathons, and also hackathons that focus on a particular product or technology. The theme is just a suggestion; if you can get a group together that wants to explore a topic, go for it.

    In the past, hackathons have explored new technologies or even created new product prototypes.

    The evening of the hackathon, results are presented in the Hackathon Showcase Lightning Talks.

    Home Page

    What Is An OpenSpace Conference?

    What's the best thing that happened at the last conference you attended? It's very likely that you'll remember one or more "hallway conversations," or perhaps a "Birds-Of-A-Feather" session. An OpenSpace conference creates that experience for the entire conference, by ensuring that you are always having the most interesting conversation possible. The emphasis is on discussion, instead of listening to eyes-forward presentations.

    Click here to view a brief screencast about Open Spaces

    (OpenSpace conferences have also been called "Unconferences." Here's a Business Week Article).

    OpenSpace is a simple methodology for self-organizing conference tracks. It relies on participation by people who have a passion for the topics to be discussed. There is no preplanned list of topics, only time slots and a space in the main meeting room where interested participants propose topics and pick time slots.

    OpenSpace has been used for conferences and as a facilitation technique for company meetings, community organizations, and other groups that wish to explore the emergent ideas and agendas of their members. I have organized a number of OpenSpace events which have been far and away the best meeting experiences I've ever had (I think I'd put on OpenSpaces all the time if I could).

    Prepare to be surprised by the depth and breadth of topics that are discussed in OpenSpace. Each OpenSpace experience is unique in some way. Quite often topics are raised in OpenSpace that are off the radar of the original meeting — this spontaneity is part of the benefit.

    Some people have found this concept to be intimidating. In particular, questions like the following may arise:

    • Can I contribute anything of value?
    • Do I need to come with some kind of prepared presentation?
    It doesn't matter if you contribute a little or a lot. And you'll probably be surprised that you may know something that others may not. Everyone has something to give, whether they know it or not -- even if it's the "beginner's mind" that asks the right questions.

    One of the greatest things about an OpenSpace is that it's spontaneous. It's not about traditional "eyes-forward" presentations, so if you go to the trouble of creating such a thing, it's likely it won't get used. On the other hand, if you are familiar with some technology that others might like to learn about, we might end up asking you to show us. But not in a formal way. So all you really need to bring is your brain.

    How OpenSpace Works

    OpenSpace is a small set of rules that allow groups of people to interact in a simple, productive, organized way to create valuable dialogs that address the participants' most important issues.

    The Fundamental "Rules" of the sessions that happen during OpenSpace conferences are:

    • Whoever shows up is the right group
    • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
    • Whenever it starts is the right time
    • When it's over, it's over.

    To lead an OpenSpace Talk:

    • Come up with an interesting topic and title for your discussion.
      • You don't need to develop these before the conference; most of the ideas will come to you during the event.
    • Fill out a schedule Post-It for your topic.
    • Place the topic on the schedule.
    • If you see topics that have something in common, consider combining them into a single time slot.
    • If a significant number of people want to attend your discussion and another discussion in the same time slot, try to trade into another time slot to ensure maximum dialog and participation.

    To attend an OpenSpace Talk:

    • Check the schedule and sign up for a talk or just drop in if you wish.
    • Use the 'Law of two feet.' If you feel that you are not contributing or benefiting from a presentation, please feel free to move on to something else.
    • Allow the discussion convener to steer his or her topic. If you have an opposing opinion that needs a full time slot you should feel free to add your own OpenSpace slot to discuss the topic.

    A Note to Lecturers

    As someone who often presents to groups, I find it easy to slip into lecturing mode. I resist this impulse, because that's not what OpenSpaces are about. General things to remember:

    • This is a discussion, and you learn more in an OpenSpace from listening than by talking.
    • If you're used to lecturing, pretend you're in the audience.
    • Let go and let it happen. It will.
    • Try not to control the conversation (if you've convened the session, "steering" is OK).
    • When you do talk, know your audience and don't talk down to them. If people need clarification, they will ask for it.
    • Just say it; try not to use the entertaining embellishments that you do for public speaking. Attendees are smart enough to get it unadorned.
    • If you find yourself writing notes or flipcharts beforehand, step back and take a breath. You're probably preparing a lecture.
    • If you absolutely must give an introduction, make it no longer than 5 minutes, and note it on the session announcement so that people can choose not to come until the discussion starts. If it's longer than 5 minutes, this probably isn't the right forum.

    If you're in a session and a lecturer needs help stopping, raise your hand and say "I'd like to hear what everyone else has to say about this."

    Home Page


    • Sunday 6:00pm:
           Welcome Barbeque at Bruce's House (107 WhiteRock). Bring something to grill, cook, or share.

    • Monday 8:30am:
           Conference Overview
           Introduction to Open Spaces
           Initial talk topics and organization
           Session 1
      11:00am-12:00pm: Session 2
      Afternoon: lunch/workshops/hackathons/free time
      (PH downstairs unavailable 3:30pm-5pm)
      Evening: Groups go to dinner or informal barbeque
      Followed by: Lightning talks 8pm @PH
      Followed by: Hackathon Mixer 9pm @Rumors (create/discover your team)

    • Tuesday 8:30-9:30am: Session 3 10:00-11:00am: Session 4
      11:30-12:30pm: Session 5
      Afternoon: lunch/workshops/hackathons/free time
      (PH downstairs unavailable 5:00pm-6:30pm)
      Followed by: Lightning talks 8pm @PH
      Followed by: Pub discussions

    • Wednesday: Hackathon day
      Evening: Groups go to dinner or informal barbeque
      Followed by: Hackathon Showcase Lightning Talks 8pm @PH
      (PH downstairs unavailable noon-2pm)
      (PH all unavailable 5pm-8pm)
      Followed by: Pub discussions

    • Thursday 8:30-9:30am: Session 6
      10:00-11:00am: Session 7
      11:30-12:30pm: Session 8
      Afternoon: lunch/workshops/hackathons/free time
      Evening: Progressive Dinner at Rental Houses
      Followed by: Event TBA

    • Friday 8:30-9:30am: Session 9
      (PH downstairs unavailable 7am-9:00am)
      10:00-11:00am: Session 10
      11:30-12:30pm: Closing Session
      Afternoon: lunch/workshops/hackathons/free time
      (PH downstairs unavailable 4pm-5:30pm)
      Evening: Ski/Snowshoe to catered Yurt dinner (optional; requires signup)

    • Saturday Morning: Barry's Breakfast at Bruce's house; Airport shuttles can pick you up there.

    The "free time" slots can be used for skiing, and allow you to purchase a 1/2 day afternoon pass. You may also organize alternative activities during the mid-day break. Skiing is completely optional, and is your responsibility, although groups are likely to form. See for more information.

    Home Page

    Location and Lodging

    Crested Butte is a small resort town located at about 9000 feet, near the continental divide. It is known for its skiing in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.

    We hold the event in town, and free buses run up to the ski mountain every 15 minutes.

    One of the most popular things to do for conferences is to rent houses together. You can do this through the conference mailing list -- often one person finds the house, and then others come and fill it up.

    This site is probably the most well-maintained reference to hotels and restaurants in downtown Crested Butte (where we hold the event -- note that you should try to stay downtown and not on the mountain, so you can just walk everywhere). Note that site only lists hotel-style lodging; there is also a very nice hostel, and numerous AirB&B's and VRBO-style spaces available.

    You can also find further (albeit outdated in some places) details about lodging and how to get to Crested Butte, but if you're in a hurry you can just call the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce at (800) 545-4505 and they will help you make a reservation. Remember to ask for a reservation in the town of Crested Butte, and not on the mountain, in order to be close to the conference location. However, in the Summer there are always more rooms available on the mountain than in town, and the bus is very convenient to get from the mountain to town.

    If you're on a budget, try the hostel or ask the Chamber of Commerce about camping.

    Here's a page of Airline tips.

    High-speed Internet is available in the conference location and at several locations within easy walking distance of the conference location. Many lodgings provide Internet access but you should ask to make sure.

    Restaurants: This is a reasonably accurate list. There are also a few restaurants on the mountain, including the popular Django's.

    Often people stay the day after the conference or for the weekend; informal gatherings have been known to happen.

    Here's another site about travel, lodging and the Crested Butte experience.

    Group Houses: Make sure you add yourself to the newsgroup for the conference. People often organize to rent an entire house for the conference, which can be more useful and fun. Once you're on the newsgroup, feel free to make arrangements with other attendees to rent houses.

    Home Page


    Price does not include skiing, which is optional. For beginners, ski instruction can be arranged. There is also cross-country skiing (cheaper), snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

    Step 1:

    Request to Join the Conference Newsgroup using the email address where you would like to receive information about the conference (You can also post questions and arrange ride sharing and group house rentals, etc). NOTE: This address will not be used for anything else except the conference.

    Once you've joined the group, you'll receive a link to the payment form.

    MindView Home