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March 31, 2016 | Tom Ballard

It’s time to vote for your favorite CodeStock topics

CodestockBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The proposals are in, and now it is time for the registered or prospective attendees to decide the topics that will be presented at this year’s CodeStock technology conference. They can vote at this link.

The two-day conference for developers, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs is scheduled to start July 15 at the Knoxville Convention Center where it moved last year to accommodate more attendees.

“They loved the new venue,” said Andrew May, Owner of ADM Software Consulting, LLC, and a member of the CodeStock Board of Directors. Moving to the Convention Center allowed the event to double attendance to about 1,000 people in 2015.

“We are projecting 1,250 this year, but we can accommodate more,” May says. “We’d like to see growth each year.”

CodeStock is really one of those unique, volunteer-driven events. In addition to May, others on the Board include Don Den Uyl, Director of Software Development for PerfectServe; Brad Miller, Marketing Director and Project Manager at CodeTank Labs; Christine Jones, Senior Software Engineer at Scripps Networks Interactive; and Joy O’Shell, Director of Outreach for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

“How much people care about it is what makes CodeStock a community conference,” May says proudly.

So, what’s different this year?

“We’re doing a ‘Kids in Code’ track,” May says, partnering with CodeTN, a collaborative between the local Great Schools Partnership and United Way of Greater Knoxville. The idea came as a result of attendees wanting to bring their children to CodeStock sessions.

“Kids in Code” will be held at least on the second day, which is a Saturday, and possibly on the first day.

May says another goal is focused on the content. Tracks are planned for those interested in development, DevOps, entrepreneurship, and design-related issues.

“We’re looking to expand the reach of speakers,” he says. As a result, CodeStock created a Content Board, led by Jones, which is focused on diversifying the types of talks and speakers.

“They’re tightening-up the definition of the talks for each track,” May adds.

Even as the planners work on the diversification strategy, they also plan to address something that May describes as “conference fatigue” by reducing the number of sessions from 120 to about 100.

“Our 2015 evaluations said we had too much content and not enough social time,” May said. As a result, there will be more networking opportunities in 2016.

Other changes include improving the production quality and providing more structure for the 15-minute “Lightning Talks.”

CodeStock is more than just a conference for local techies. It’s an important part of positioning Knoxville as a technology hotspot, helping companies attract and retain talent.

“We’re refining the image (with CodeStock) . . . really showing people what we have here,” May says.

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