VikingPLoP is made of a set of activities that aim to build community of trust, as well as friendly but effective environment for giving and receiving feedback on your work and sharing expertise. The conference differs drastically from traditional conferences, for example, there are no powerpoints at all.
Here is explanation what different events of the conference are about.
In this first session, we will outline the structure of the conference. Practical information about the arrangements is given.
In VikingPLoP we don't use name badges. This special game in the first conference day is held so that everybody gets to know each other and learn their names. This is an event you don't want to miss.
One of the unique features of the PLoP series of conferences is the emphasis we place on non-technical, right-brain activities. We try to create an environment that exercises the parts of the mind and body that have nothing at all to do with developing software but have a lot to do with finding and writing patterns (whether they are software patterns or any other kind).
There are several game sessions during the conference. In these sessions we will run non-competitive games. The games are intended to let us know each other, activate the non-technical halves of our brains, and build up a community of trust. Games include untying human knots and making a 5 meter high "mushroom".
Each day is started with get-together. It gives an overview of the days programme and announcements. If you are interested in organizing a BOF session in the evening you can announce it during the daily overview. Birds Of a Feather (BOFs) sessions are ad hoc sessions that anybody can announce and they take place after the day's official program. Contents and format of a BOF session is up to the group joining the session.
Writers' workshops are at the core of the VikingPLoP program. In these workshops we discuss accepted pattern papers. Pattern papers may consist of an individual pattern or of a pattern language. Writers' workshops follow a special format which has been adopted from reviewing poetry. Before the conference, everybody reads each other's papers. In the actual workshop, authors give each other feedback on their work in a peer review fashion. Each writers' workshop contains 5 to 8 papers; a session of around an hour is devoted to each paper. In such a session, the authors of the paper under discussion remain silent while the other authors have a discussion about it, and explain what additional insights and views they have. This confirms that the pattern can stand alone. Authors (as well as non-authors who may join) stay with their workshop over the entire conference. This way authors get a lot of ideas on how they can improve their work.
Here is explanation on the format of writers' workshop and checklist where you check which are the steps taken in a writers' workshop.
People come to VikingPLoP to get feedback on their papers. Therefore, you are helping them when you offer them suggestions, improvements, constructive criticism, or relevant facts. Authors might use this feedback in any manner, and for any purpose. However, you should be careful to make sure you don't disclose anything improperly. Nevertheless, when you give feedback, you are part of what makes PLoP conferences great.
To an author, feedback is crucial. This is why authors always thank the reviewers at the end of a writers' workshop. Authors need feedback to understand how other people interpret what you say. You can learn a lot even when a reviewer just says "I don't understand this." But remember that it is your paper! You do not have to use any particular suggestion. In fact, sometimes suggestions conflict and it is impossible to use them all. But even when reviewers don't quite understand your purpose, their feedback is invaluable.
Because the focus of the writers' workshops is on feedback and improvement, papers are not considered final once they have been workshopped. Authors incorporate the feedback they receive at the writers' workshop into their papers before the papers go into the final proceedings about half a year after the conference.
Participating in a writers' workshop requires that you have read the papers of that workshop and, if possible, that you took some notes on what you liked about the papers and what you felt needed improvement -- just as a memory aid for yourself. This is the precondition for a fruitful discussion. However, there's no reading time during the writers' workshops, and experience shows that, for the remaining time during the conference, chatting with others or meeting people in the sauna is much more fun than sitting in your room alone reading papers.
Preparing for a writer's workshop is hard work.
Open space / nap time
Believe it or not, PLoP is hard work and you might sometimes feel exhausted. That's why we have nap time in the conference program. Alternatively, this time can be used to arrange open space sessions. In many cases, the coffee breaks and open space is the best part of an academic conference - you talk to people, network and get new ideas for your research. If you wish to announce open space session you are free to do so during daily overview and see if there are people with similar interests in the crowd.
Beer & Sauna
PLoPs are also about networking. This is a great chance to meet people over beer and enjoy traditional Finnish sauna. Once the heat is too much we will go outside to cool down.
In VikingPLoP we always relax together by having different kind of non-competitive activities. 2013 we went for a horseback riding trek to the woods and smoked some sausages and made coffee on the open fire in lean-to. In VikingPLoP 2012 we went to Toboggan hill and enjoyed the toboggan ride down 1200 meters course. Activity for 2014 is still open, but we will provide you more information once the activity is decided.
Banquet Enjoy the culinary highlight of the conference. There is no need to wear a suit for this event. Between courses we will change seats.
Feedback session We want to know your opinion of the conference. In this session we will gather things to keep (what you enjoyed) and things to improve.
This is a special game session where we will do the traditional PLoP closing ceremony. This is an opportunity to say farewells to your newly made friends.
In addition, to traditional PLoP closing ceremony, VikingPLoP has had a special paper burning ceremony, where authors burn the conference version of their paper. It
is a symbolic ceremony where the old work is burnt in order to allow new better work to the previous works' place. The tradition started in VikingPLoP 2008, in Store
Nyteboda and has ever since been a part of VikingPLoP. ScrumPLoP community has also adopted this special closing ceremony.
Other information Forging connections to other pattern authors is one of the most important activities at VikingPLoP. This is the reason why all meals (breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch, and dinner) are taken together which gives you lots of opportunities for meeting new interesting pattern enthusiasts.
By the way: there is no dress code at VikingPLoP. You can wear a suit and a tie, but be prepared to feel a little overdressed.