TITLE: Missing PLoP AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 09, 2005 12:44 PM DESC: Academics aren't supposed to enjoy a particular conference so much that their hearts ache when they miss it, are they? ----- BODY: PLoP 2005 Banner This being Friday, September 9, I have to come to grips with the fact that I won't be participating in PLoP 2005. This is the 12th PLoP, and it would have been my 10th, all consecutively. PLoP has long been one of my favorite conferences, both for how much it helps me to improve my papers and my writing and for how many neat ideas and people I encounter there. Last year's PLoP led directly to four blog entries, on patterns as autopsy, patterns and change, patterns and myth, and the wiki of the future, not to mention a few others indirectly later. Of course, I also wrote about the wonderful running in and around Allerton Park, the pastoral setting of PLoP. I will dearly miss doing my 20-miler there this weekend... PLoP 2005 Banner Sadly, events conspired against me going to PLoP this year. The deadline for submissions fell at about the same time as the deadline for applications for the chair of my department, both of which fell around when I was in San Diego for the spring planning meeting for OOPSLA 2005. Even had I submitted, I would have had a hard time doing justice to paper revisions through the summer, as I learned the ropes of my new job. And now, new job duties make this a rather bad time to hop into the car and drive to Illinois for a few days. (Not that I wasn't tempted early in the week to drive down this morning to join in for a day!) I am not certain if other academics feel about some of the conferences they attend the way I feel about PLoP, OOPSLA, and ChiliPLoP, but I do know that I don't feel the same way about other conferences that I attend, even ones I enjoy. The PLoPs offer something that no other conference does: a profound concern for the quality of technical writing and communication more generally. PLoP Classic, in particular, has a right-brain feel unlike any conference I've attended. But don't think that this is a result of being overrun by a bunch of non-techies; the conference roster is usually dominated by very good minds from some of the best technical outfits in the world. But these folks are more than just techies. Unfortunately I'm not the only regular who is missing PLoP this year. The attendee list for 2005 is smaller than in recent years, as was the number of submissions and accepted papers. The Hillside Group is considering the future of PLoP and ChiliPLoP in light of the more mainstream role of patterns in the software world and the loss of cache that comes when one software buzzword is replaced with another. Patterns are no longer the hot buzzword -- they are a couple of generations of buzzwords beyond that -- which changes how conferences in the area need to be run. I think, though, that it is essential for us to maintain a way for new pattern writers to enter the community and be nurtured by pattern experts. It is also essential that we continue to provide a place where we care not only about the quality of technical content but also about the quality of technical writing. On the XP mailing list this morning, Ron Jeffries mentioned the "patterns movement":
In the patterns movement, there was the notion of "forces". The idea of applying a pattern or pattern language was to "balance" the forces.
I hope Ron's use of past tense was historical, in the sense that the patterns movement first emphasized the notion of forces "back then", rather than a comment that the patterns movement is over. The heyday is over, but I think we software folks still have a lot to learn about design from patterns. I am missing PLoP 2005. Sigh. I guess there's always ChiliPLoP 2006. Maybe I can even swing EuroPLoP next year. -----