If you're new to JavaOne, and you want some sage advice from an alumni that's been there a time or two before, then here it is: sleep in, get some rest, and skip the early-morning executive keynotes.
That's not to disparage the keynote speakers that come on stage at 8:30 or 9am. Anyone who is presenting on the big stage at a conference like OracleWorld is going to have the ability to engage an audience. All of the JavaOne or OracleWorld speakers will have stage presence. And there is undeniably a great energy that comes along with the opening of the conference on any given morning. But here's the thing: it's pretty rare for any earth-shattering information to come out of these keynotes. More often than not, a given keynote just safely tows the line about Oracle's future direction. It's pretty rare to come across anything earth shattering in the executive keynotes, and much of what is said can typically be read in a simultaneously published press release.
Streaming the keynotes online
So don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that the morning keynotes are without merit. In fact, the OracleWorld and JavaOne keynoters will likely be some of the best orators in the enterprise development community. But does listening to them justify getting down to the Moscone center early enough to get a seat, or even worse, watch it on a big screen TV in an overflow room because the grand hall is packed? Most of the keynotes are now streamed online, and for my money, watching them that way is the preferred approach.
Of course, the big reason I advise to sleep in and skip the keynotes is so attendees will have more energy for the really fun stuff that happens later on in the afternoon and evening. If you're up at the break of dawn so you can get a seat at the Moscone center, you're likely going to be running out of steam by time the 4pm sessions begin. And if you're flying into San Francisco from the east coast, that 4pm Pacific session is really happening at 7pm Eastern. A Boston boy or a Georgia lass is going to find themselves nodding off a bit in those late day sessions if they don't get their rest the night before.
And it's not about the late afternoon as much as it's about the evening. All of the best stuff happens in the late afternoon, early evening, and quite often, right into the night. All of the Birds of a Feather sessions (you will hear them referred to colloquially as 'BOFs'), happen in the evening, and BOFs are without a doubt the best way for Java users to interact with the best and the brightest in the industry. Far too many first timers head to their hotel room at 5pm to grab a quick nap, only to find themselves waking up to the eleven o'clock news, having missed out on all of the evening festivities. If you're going to JavaOne, don't let this happen to you.
Late nights and early mornings
A JavaOne attendee needs to think about how much gas they're going to have left in the tank at 8 or 9pm, because that's when all the good parties start. Whether you get an invite to a soiree that is sponsored by one of the major vendors, or you're just heading over to the Redwood Room with a few people you met during the day, some of the most fun and best networking opportunities that happen at JavaOne happen in the evening. Smartly sleeping in through a morning keynote will not only give you the energy you need to make it to the late night parties, but it will help you recover from them as well.
Of course, not everyone in the enterprise Java community is completely in sync with my way of thinking. Sacha Labourey, CEO and founder of CloudBees, sees it a bit differently. Not only does he suggest that you don't sleep in, but he'd rather see people not sleeping at all. "JavaOne is just three days. Do everything you can, focus on San Francisco for a while, don't sleep much, and plan to be tired after JavaOne."
Regardless of whose advice you take, the bottom line is that to get the most out of JavaOne, you've got to stay involved from dusk to dawn, and if that means streaming the live keynotes through your laptop while you shower up in your hotel room as I suggest, or whether you simply choose to go 72 hours without sleep as the CEO of CloudBees recommends, then so be it. Know how to strike a balance between keynotes, sessions, BOFs and parties, and if you plan accordingly, JavaOne and OracleWorld will be one of the most memorable conferences you'll ever attend.
What is your plan for getting the most out of JavaOne? Let us know.