ZendCon 2012 (or, how to get your talk accepted)

Well, planning for ZendCon has been underway for a while and we finally got our Call for Papers out the door!  We are following a similar process as we did last year.  We aren’t having specific tracks (which I am of the opinion are basically useless in a targeted conference like this), but we have three primary themes that we are going to be looking for content in with 12 specific topics that we have most interest in.

Our topics are

  • PHP in 2012
  • Zend Framework 2
  • Development & The Cloud

PHP in 2012 is referring to any kind of new or ongoing PHP-based, or connected, functionality that is current.  If you talk about the virtues of PHP 4 OOP you will not get chosen.  However, if you want to talk about new theories on asynchronous execution you have a good shot.

Zend Framework 2 is, well, Zend Framework 2.  We are doing a HEAVY push for ZF2 this year and we want to see lots of content.  We will obviously having various ZF team members do some of the big topics, but if you are not necessarily a core developer but would still like to submit look at some  secondary topics that might be interesting.  For example, don’t bother submitting about the Event Manager or the Dependecy Injection Container.  You can, but most likely someone from the core team will speak on those.  Take a look at, as some examples, Server, Ldap, Cloud or Queue.  Or submit a case study on building a distributed event-based system or integrating ZF2 modules with Symfony 2 and vice versa.

Development and The Cloud.  Egads!  The cloud again?  No.  Well yes, but no.  We are definitely looking for cloud-based topics, but this is intended to be more general than that.  Think about the question “what can the cloud teach us about X, whether it’s in the cloud or local.”  For example, are the operations activities that could be better done using cloud-based strategies.  Are there API methodologies that have grown up in the cloud but could positively impact developers for on-premise deployments.  So, yes, we want cloud content, but we are also looking for content that will apply to a wide range of deployments.

The topic areas that we would like submissions to fit into are

  • Application and infrastructure best practices/case studies
  • Testing, debugging, profiling and QA
  • Framework-based development
  • Zend Framework 2
  • Cloud-based services and cloud-based development
  • Server and cloud-based infrastructure
  • RIA, mobile and browser
  • Databases, storage and data modeling
  • Security
  • Unsung Tools
  • Agile processes and project management
  • PHP on the IBM i

So while we would like your topic, in general, to fall under one of our three themes, these are the actual categories you will need to submit under.  One thing to consider, too.  Kenny Loggins, when the call for songs went out for Top Gun decided that he would submit for the volleyball scene instead of the theme song.  Why?  Because nobody was going to submit for the volleyball scene and so the likelihood of him getting it was pretty good.  Well, he got it and Tony Scott asked him if he wanted to take a crack at the theme song.  The point is that if you want to talk about something that a lot of people are submitting for, submit a good talk for something that a lot of people aren’t submitting for.  Here is a secret.  Conferences are always looking for ways to save money and speaker travel is a big expense.  If we can get multiple talks out of you, while not guaranteeing anything, it does make you, as a speaker, more attractive.

Additionally, these are sentences that we don’t want to say when checking a submission

  • Sooo… what are they talking about? (Do NOT do a generic abstract.  Use keywords, name the tools that you will talk about)
  • How does this relate to PHP?
  • Who is this person? (If you aren’t a core contributor, part of a framework team or a user group maintainer then it would be good to tell us a little about you.  You don’t need to be famous, but if you’re not or we don’t know you it is good for you to convince us that the risk will be worth it)
  • Is this a slide deck or a presentation?  (a presentation includes a slide deck but also demonstration.  Doing things live is almost always better)
  • Was this abstract run through a translator?  (English IS the dominant language at this conference and you must demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively)
  • Wasn’t this deprecated?
  • This looks kind of boring
Also, when you submit, include links to slideshare, blogs or videos of pertinent information.  MAKE OUR JOB OF ACCEPTING YOUR TALK EASY!!
Also, DON’T MAKE US SCROLL DOWN MULTIPLE PAGES TO READ YOUR ABSTRACT!  Be short, be concise, be succinct.  We don’t have time to read a novel.

So there you have it.  That is some of the inside thinking that I (we) have in mind as we will be looking through the CfP results.  Basically, submit on topic, submit multiple talks and try to be interesting or unique.  Following those guidelines will make our job of choosing you much easier.

Another thing to do… blog.  If the advisory panel does not know who you are and what your contributions have been we will look into you.  If you have a blog we will read it and it will contribute significantly to our decision.

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  1. [...] Each year Zend puts on ZendCon and each year we invite you to participate; 2012 is no different. We are looking for the best and brightest to come talk about what you are working on. If you think you’ve got what it takes, check out Kevin Schroder’s blog post on the topic, “ZendCon 2012 (or, how to get your talk accepted)” [...]

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