Well, CAST 2011 has shipped.

A few minor bugs, but it looks like the value far outweighed the problems.

James and I wanted it to be THE context-driven event, and it was — speakers from around the world, a tester-themed movie, tester games, a competition, lightning talks, emerging topics, half-day and full-day tutorials, an EdSig with Cem Kaner present on Skype, a live (3D) Weekend Testers Americas session, professional webcasts to the world, debates, panels, open season, facilitation, music, a real-time Skype coaching demo, real-time tweets, live blogs, live LIVE blogs posted as it happened (via http://typewith.me) and red cards for those who needed to speak NOW.

Notice the pattern? Just enough structure to allow play and exploration.  Function and facilities for people to listen and trade ideas.  We provided the place to play and a rough agenda of what could be discussed, but self-organizing professionals did the rest.

And after the conference, they are still organizing.  Sure, I bet a lot of business cards were exchanged, but there’s still traction on the #CAST2011 Twitter hashtag, there are new blogs, there’s talk about EuroCAST and a Brazil CAST.

I may have been presiding officer, but when the show started, I turned it over to the crowd and rode along. Sure, I spoke a few times to the assembled guests, made announcements and reminders, kicked us off in the morning and kicked us out at night, but it was more like being a maitre d’ — I just seated the guests and they made their own dinner conversation.

I’ll help the AST find a place to stage 2012 (likely here in the Bay Area), but I’ll advise next year’s president to make sure there is the same open space to adapt, improvise, and learn so that professionals can decide for themselves if it was worthy of their time.  Lessons here for software development, for sure. 

Until next time, thanks to my core staff — James (theme, tracks and speakers), Ben Yaroch (marketing and media: website, printing, signage broadcasting), and Paul Holland (facilitation, finances, online registration) — to the amazing Danielle Guenther with Lynnwood Convention Center’s extraordinary staff — to Dawn Haynes for turning the reg desk into a full-fledged command center… to the facilitators who kept conversation moving (Paul, Tim Coulter, Sherry Heinze, Nancy Kelln, Mike Goempel).. to Matt Heusser and Peter Walen who encouraged topics to emerge all day, to Michael Larsen for hosting WTA3D, to all of the speakers who sacrified their time, money and sleep… to Doug, Tim, Dee Ann, Cem, Becky, and Lynn for keeping a presence for AST programs and elections, to the sponsors, board members, and people who wanted to help but were turned down because things were going smoothly…

….but last and best, my thanks to the 200 people who showed up in person (and over 800 unique visitors online) who gave it all a reason.