Scala Summit
and Summer Tech Forum

an Open Spaces Conference
with Bruce Eckel

Crested Butte, Colorado

2015 Cancelled. See here for alternative

Attendance limited to 70

Price: $600

Theme: Scala vs. The New Features in Java 8

If you've looked at Java 8, you might be starting to think that the vice of backwards compatibility combined with attempts to keep Java fresh with new language trends is producing features that are more trouble than they're worth. Moving to the open-sourced Java 8 has benefits, but how many teams will just stay with the existing features during the move? More importantly, how likely is it that a team that wants to work with functional-object hybrid features will suffer with Java 8 features rather than just moving to the simpler, cleaner syntax and semantics offered by Scala? And if this is truly the case, how can we motivate this choice, and what will be the implications for development on the JVM?

Although the theme sets the general tone of the conference, it certainly doesn't exclude session topics that are outside of the theme. The goal of the theme is to stimulate ideas, not to prevent discussion.

Hackathon Day

If you have an idea for the (Wednesday) hackathon day projects, there's time alloted for short pitches on day one, to gather interest from those who might want to work with you. This allows opportunities to work on the project before Wednesday, if you like. Wednesday is a full day dedicated to hackathons, and Wednesday evening has short presentations of finished projects. Hackathon project ideas might include programming Internet-of-things devices, building a Salesforce app with Scala, exploring a new app framework, or working on an existing open-source project (or starting a new one). The only "requirement" for a hackathon day project is that you get excited about it.

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."


(Specific schedule subject to change. In particular, sometimes we have a pattern of afternoon thundershowers and if so we may move the outdoor activities to the mornings.)
  • 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
         Hackathon-Day Project Pitches
         Initial talk topics and organization
         Session 1
    10:30am-12:00pm: Session 2
    Afternoon: hiking/mountain biking/fishing/other outdoor activities OR self-organized workshops
    Evening: Groups go to dinner or informal barbeque @ Bruce's.
    Followed by: 8:30pm lightning talks.

  • Tuesday 8:30-9:30 am: Session 3
    10:00-11:00am: Session 4
    11:30-12:30pm: Session 5
    Afternoon: hiking/mountain biking/fishing/other outdoor activities OR self-organized workshops
    Evening: Groups go to dinner or informal barbeque @ Bruce's.
    Followed by: 8:30pm lightning talks.

  • Wednesday: Hackathon day
    Evening: Groups go to dinner or informal barbeque @ Bruce's.
    Followed by: 8:30pm Hackathon Showcase Lightning Talks
    Followed by: Pub discussions.

  • Thursday 8:30-9:30 am: Session 6
    10:00-11:00am: Session 7
    11:30-12:30pm: Session 8
    Afternoon: hiking/mountain biking/fishing/other outdoor activities OR self-organized workshops
    Evening: Progressive Dinner at Rental Houses OR other dinner event TBA
    Followed by: Pub discussions.

  • Friday 8:30-9:30 am: Session 9
    10:00-11:00am: Session 10
    11:30-12:30pm: Session 11
    Afternoon: hiking/mountain biking/fishing/other outdoor activities OR self-organized workshops
    Evening: Group Dinner event
    Followed by: Pub discussions.

  • Saturday Morning: Breakfast at Bruce's house (bring your leftover food); Airport shuttles can pick you up there.

The "free time" slots can be used for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, or other outdoor activities. You may also organize alternative activities or workshops during the open periods.

Note: Fall tends to have more open lodging

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.

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


Step 1: Join the Newsgroup

Join the Scala Summit Newsgroup using the email address where you would like to receive information about the Summit (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 Summit. It's essential you join the newsgroup, as all information about the conference will appear there.

Step 2: Registration

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