[Rich] well I'm back in the corridor again and I've managed to corner Mike Swanson, hes the man behind Mix09.. Mike how are you doing.
[Mike Swanson] I'm doing fine thank you Richard, and by the way I don't have a cool accent like that, I hope you're OK with my lack of accent.
[Rich] Did I just put on a posh voice just then?
[Mike Swanson] yeah I thought it was great, a great little voice.
[Rich] so for the benefit of the listeners do you want to tell us who you are what you do?
[Mike Swanson] I'm happy too. my name is Michael Swanson, by day I work for Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft, which is a big mouthful. I work with a lot of technical evangelists, and specifically I work on our events team. our events team own 2 events, we own MIX which means the team I'm on helps execute the event we are at right now. We also do PDC. so we are responsible for PDC and of course PDC 2008 for anyone who attended we did that as well and will do future PDC and future MIX's of course. my role specifically this year, as it varies from year to year it seems. this year for this conference in addition to what we call our core team and the core team is a few individuals that basically makes sure everything goes right, we decide what we do. I specifically own keynotes. I was Keynote owner this year. so it was like what we gonna say, what's the theme of our conference, who are we gonna get, what demos we gonna show, what partners are we gonna show and basically leading that through to execution on the stage.
[Rich] Wow, that's a lot of stuff to do, trying to keep the keynotes in order and to time aswell.
[Mike Swanson] Oh yes, it's funny, in rehearsal, because we do reherse, a lot of people don't realise we do rehearsals, usually its the day before the actual keynote in the keynote room and we often know we are gonna go over a little bit but we are always surprised of course, at least it wasn't a bladder buster this time. We went over by 20 mins on day 1 but today we didn't. we started a little late but ended on time. that's wierd though. We call them bladder busting keynotes, but it turns out attendees at least tell us, that as long as you have good stuff, then we'll sit a bit longer.
[Rich] And that is the case I think this year...
[Mike Swanson] Yeah.
[Rich] The keynotes were just full you didn't want them to end..its like a good movie and you just want it to carry on dont you.
[Mike Swanson] Well thats good to hear isn't it? It's not like your waiting for the credits to roll so that's good. from a keynote perspective we tried a couple of different things this year. One was instead of getting someone like a Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer or Ray Ozzie, who normally headlines the opening 20 mins or so of our day 1 keynote, we decided to go a little different this year, were trying to push a bit more on user experience and design. We have more and more products and technologies, people who have the ability to create user experience using tools which is now comming closer to reality so we said, can we get more of a design element in the conference which led to our discussion by Bill Buxton. By all measures everyone who has given us feedback that they love Bill Buxton and he was great, so he's walking around now like a little bit of a star, a bit of a legend, then we had Deborah Adler of course today which was a completely non technical risk, honestly because we wasn't sure how our developers, designers would take that story but the feedback so far is very strong from designers, a couple of developers may have said. 'i dont really really get it but a lot of them did so overall I think it was good and the other one the tri-fector here is the special screening of objectify which was all about industrial design and not about software, so were trying to push design a little bit more and I think it worked for us this year..
[Rich] I think it worked as well I mean Bill Buxton was at ReMIX in the UK last year and he went down a storm then so he was kind of safe risky bet and I think the other one was really good the Deborah one.. that was interesting because even as a peer developer to understand the problem and see it through you can appreciate the main points.
[Mike Swanson] Yes absolutely, and the one thing I think about Bill that people have repeated back to me was his mountain bike example. you know.. it's not about the bike its almost like there is no spoon in the matrix, its not about the bike its about the experience that a person gets by riding the bike and if you think in design for that your doing the right thing, its not about the physical object its self.
[Rich] careering down the hill, changing your diapers.
[Mike Swanson] Exactly.
[Rich] So MIX this year, its been a hard year economically but it seems to have gone really well we have good people here and everything.
[Mike Swanson] yeah were actually near packed especially if you looked out into the keynote audience because I popped my head out occasionally just to see if people are engaged or if they are walking out, but we have had an engaged audience this year . it was nearly full I saw people sitting along the edges with is kind of wierd on a keynote as we usually have the room for it. so feedback is great we've had a lot of attendace im glad to see it. your right the...the economy did make things challenging. a lot of conferences are not able to pull this off right now. somehow we were able to so we are happy about that.
[Rich] There's lots of other things going on like the 'Show off' and the 10k challenge and the design stuff they all help to promote don't they?
[Mike Swanson] Yes they do, its the fun element, part of what we like about MIX is that its not just developers that show up and we wanna have fun...it is Vegas , part of it is a chance to unwind, you know....its that time when folks can get time away from the office because thats just as important as the networking component or the educational component .. even if we just made a DVD of all these sessions and just shipped them out to you youd probably never have to time to just sit down and watch them... you'd have great intentions and you'd want to but the reality is you'd probably never have time to do it...your boss probably isn't gonna send you to Florida to sit and watch a DVD so we may as well have some fun whilst were here and do things like show off or the rock band tournament of course is all about pure fun.
[Rich] Yes, I saw someone one the Twitter feed which was live in the keynote saying we need a drummer. I was tempted but I thought no..
[Mike Swanson] Are you a drummer on Rock Band then?
[Rich] Yes but only on easy/medium.
[Mike Swanson] Ok, ok that's about my speed as well.
[Rich] So straight after MIX then are you starting to plan PDC?
[Mike Swanson] Absolutely, weve announced PDC as in November, mid November I don't remember the exact date around the 15th in Los Angeles so it's a little later in the year than the October event we had last year. so usually what we do after the conference is we all kind of take a week off or at least a slow week right, relax a little bit, and then pick up planning for PDC, and we have already been planning PDC as it takes. well I never really calculate it, but its about 9 months from first discussion right through to execution a lot of times we have to reserve the facility way in advance its not like reserving a room somewhere so we have to make some predictions about that, but...yes....absolutely weve already started talking about that and when we get back that's what our focus will be...
[Rich] Well that sounds fantastic. Mike, I'm not gonna hold you any longer. I know you got to dash off again onto your next..
[Mike Swanson] well yes that is the job..
[Rich] Thanks for your time....
[Mike Swanson] Thank you Richard, its been a pleasure,