Be there or be square - on of the first clichés I learned in english, and the most fitting description I can find for the question: What was LetsTest like this year ?
I don't know exactly what made it such a huge experience. Was it that the venue place (Runö, near Stockholm, Sweden) was so beautiful ? That everyone was living there and had no other place to go (not that I figure anyone would want that) ? It certainly played in. A conference shouldn't be spread out and provide invitations to do anything other than conferring.
And conferring means conversation, chatter, exchange of ideas, questioning and thinking a bit hard before answering - sometimes. Also laughter and - for Scandinavian standards - a very high level of cheering and applause. You people from outside Scandinavia have no idea how extraverted and passionated this was :-)
It could be that the K-cards were used and all sessions were facilitated - providing equal opportunities for all to participate and comment or question the speaker - or the previous one who spoke. Despite some did swear a bit when asked for a card, it did become a good habit (as it was last year also..)
There's a youtube channel (LetsTestConference) where various video clips are posted, and one might just look at them and conclude that it was more or less a party. It really was. But watch again and listen closely. There's talking - in pretty much all of them (not so much in the workout one, but hey, no ones perfect). The talking never seized and the videos shows highly diversed groups of people talkingtalkingtalkingtalkingtalking.. Probably that also has a thing to do with why my head is rumbling today.. it's way too silent where I am now :-)
An element which is subtle, but highly important: LetsTest is for testers, and by testers. All facilitators where testers. The activities were run by testers, the organisers are testers too. I think it made all the difference, keeping things relevant. Especially in testing we don't need more people outside testing "helping" us, making money on our behalf. This was a testing event, for testers and celebrating the testing craft. And when we decide to do that, we rock!
Next year, be there!