The Long And The Short Of It

Last weekend was Hackaday Europe 2024, and it was great. Besides having some time to catch up with everyone, see some fun new badge hacks, and of course all the projects that folks brought along, I also had time to attend most all of the talks. And the talks were split into two distinct sections: long-format talks on Saturday and a two-hour session of seven-minute lightning talks on Sunday.

I don’t know if it’s our short attention spans, or the wide range of topics in a short period of time, but a number of people came up after the fact and said that they really appreciated the short-but-sweet format. One heretic even went so far as to suggest that we only have lightning talks in the future.

Well, we’ve done that before – the Hackaday Unconferences. One year, we even ran three of them simultaneously! I was at Hackaday’s London Unconference the year later, and it was a blast.

But I absolutely appreciate the longer talks too. Sometimes, you just have to give a speaker free rein to dig really deeply into a topic. When the scope of the project warrants it, there’s just no substitute for letting someone tell the whole story. So I see a place for both!

If you were at Hackaday Europe, or any other conference with a lightning talks track, what do you think? Long or short? Or a good mix?

10 thoughts on “The Long And The Short Of It

  1. Couldn’t afford it I’m on medical leave…. I got unprovoked and attacked to the point of needing six surgeries I’ve had five out of the six and May 2nd I’m scheduled for starting on the track for the 6th it’ll be the fourth one on my shoulder fully open I’ve had a hip replacement and had to have my lip micro surgery at 30 to 40 micro sutures in my lip I got attacked by three men at 7:30 in the morning drink coffee on the bench in downtown Geneva Switzerland I’ve never imagined that would ever happen and I don’t think it’ll ever happen again … Believe it or not it was due to my work and I didn’t do anything wrong actually the other guys did so much so that the ultimate person responsible is the same person that’s causing trouble on this continent.

    So there’s no way I’m ever going to get Justice unless somebody takes him out which I hope they do I would never wish that on anybody except this particular person because now it’s not only me and the nine people that came before me we were the first but now it’s hundreds of thousands of people.

    Wish I could have been there it would have been helpful for me!

  2. “One heretic even went so far as to suggest that we only have lightning talks in the future.” … All heretics should be burnt at the stack with a short blast of lightening at 1 MV for 120 seconds.

  3. I think that talks are better short, and if you have something longer, it should be a workshop. I’m also very partial to another form of conference appearance, the poster session. You put up a poster that explains the thing you want to talk about – your project, some idea, some technique, whatever – and for a set time you stand there and talk with people who have questions or comments. You can also have a table with the project shown on it, works especially way if it’s interactive. I think that between theses three (short talks, workshops and poster sessions) you get a pretty good coverage of things you can do.

    1. My wife attends medical conferences a couple of times a year.
      If I am lucky, she lets me tag along. Inside the Exhibit Hall are often research posters as you describe. I enjoy going through and glancing at them, and reading the ones that interest me. If the researcher is present I eavesdrop on their discussions with others and if the researcher is not occupied with someone else, ask a few of my own questions. Awards are often given for outstanding research or presentation.
      And then there are the Corporate Exhibitors and their schwag! B^)

  4. How about a 20-minute format? It forces the speaker to go to the essential, but still allows to elaborate on the interesting bits.
    It also fits the attention span of most listeners in my experience.

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