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WhatToExpect

Preparation

 

  • Pre-register: Each local event will provide a method for pre-registration, either directly on the site or using a free service like Event Brite. Your pre-registration helps the organizers better allocate space and estimate needs for materials like drinks, snacks, seating, and t-shirts.

 

  • Bring a laptop: You need it.  I need it.  It's the natural extension of our body.  It's also handy to write down notes and tweet about the event.

 

  • Submit your topic or theme ideas: Each BSides will have a local event page. Regardless of event format, there will be a need for and opportunity to contribute ideas for event theme, along with other possible opportunities to propose talks (such as for a Structure or Hybrid event), and volunteer to help out.

 

  • Come early, but not too early: Showing up at the announced starting time will be fine. Show up earlier, and you'll get drafted for setup work (much appreciated!). Show up later, and you'll miss some social activity. Showing up on time is especially important for events run in an unconference format.

 

  • Come ready to participate: Be ready to participate, but - unlike a true BarCamp event - this is not a free-for-all. Each event will vary in the degree of participation options available. The more traditionally styled "Structured" format will have less options for participation beyond Q&A, while events with an unconference format will be much more BarCamp-like with ample opportunities for active contribution, including discussion leadership.

 

The Event

 

Each BSides event will be run a little differently depending on conditions, expected attendees, organizers, and overall desired outcome. In general, events can be organized in one of the following ways:

 

Structured

 

A Structured event is a traditional-format conference that typically coincides with another security conference (e.g. Black Hat, RSA).  This means that attendees of the BSides event and the coinciding conference may intermingle and attend one or both events (e.g. BSidesSanFrancisco). A Structured event follows a traditional format in that speakers propose talks via the local site ahead of time, with the talks being selected and scheduled before the start of the conference.

 

Unconference

 

The Unconference format may vary slightly between events (e.g. BarCamp vs. Open Space), but the general idea is this: show up on time, throw out your ideas for talks, discussions, or even just questions you might have, and then collaboratively set the schedule for the day. Then you, as the attendee, make the unconference work for you. Attend what interests you, lead what interests you (if you want), contribute as much or as little as you want, and - most importantly - make the day a success for yourself and for those around you by keeping positive and participating openly.

 

The schedule for the day will depend in large part on the attendees. A theme may be set ahead of time for the day to help guide topics and discussions. Overall, though, the day is attendee-driven with the help of expert facilitation. BSidesBay is an example of using the pure Unconference format.

 

Hybrid Event

 

There are pros and cons to both the Structured and Unconference formats. Many people find the Structured schedule comforting, plus it gives people the flexibility to show up when they want, stay for whatever interests them, and then leave. The Unconference format can be much more demanding for attendees, requiring an open-minded approach and commitment to be there at the beginning of the day and, hopefully, stay and participate all day long. Of course, the Unconference format can also be that much more rewarding.

 

Realizing and accepting these competing desirable attributes, the Hybrid Event has been developed. At a minimum, the event will start have a kickoff comparable to the Unconference, but it will also allow speakers to submit talks ahead of time. Facilities will be provided to support both a traditional lecture track as well as an Unconference track. BSidesAustin provides an example of how this format works. Speakers submitted talks ahead of time, and then talks were slotted, along with Open Spaces discussions, during the schedule-setting session first thing in the morning. Overall, the Hybrid model seeks to provide the best of both worlds.

 

Logistics

 

Schedules vary between events. Please see the local event page for specifics on what equipment may be needed, opportunities to volunteer, the selected format for the event, and any other pertinent information.

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