Last week I attended DataGrillen 2022 in Lingen, Germany. This was my first time at this event, and I had a wonderful time. This despite the fact that I was a bit limited with mobility, as you can see below.
I had surgery Friday, May 27 and then got on a plane on Monday to make my way to Lingen. It was minor surgery and not very painful. Really more of a pain moving around slowly, but the airlines and my wife were helpful. A very large thank you to William Durkin as well, who shuttled me around from hotel to venue.
Lingen is a small(ish) town in Northern Germany. I flew to Amsterdam and then trained over. The city is small (52k people) and picturesque. It’s quiet, small roads, and easy to move around. The train station actually sits between the conference hotel and the venue. An easy walk for everyone but me.
Ben Weissman and William Durkin run this event, and it feels like an extension of their personalities. They put their stamp on this, and they asked everyone to treat this event and space as though we were in their house. I appreciated that and for the most part I think people did that.
This event was scheduled and protocols put in place in late 2021. The world has changed since they, but there were decisions made when COVID was a bigger problem than (I’d argue) it is now.
In any case, I think the event communicated well with others that they needed to adhere to the protocols they agreed to. This includes showing vaccination status or other medical information and getting tested each day.
I was late arriving, so I took my PCR test the morning of the first day. I arrived at 730a and got in line to get tested. Results in about 15 minutes, at which point I got a wristband that signified a negative test. I showed my vaccine card and then got my badge to get into the event. I tested late in the day Thursday, and got a new (and different color) wristband for Friday.
My wife skipped coming into the event because she didn’t want more COVID tests than she needed, which was fine.
We wore masks inside, and it appeared that everyone adhered to this. Speakers could take them off (we needed to speak and drink our beers), and we could go maskless outside. A lot of people went outside during breaks, I think partially to get rid of masks. That’s why I did it.
No matter what you think of various rules or protocols, you ought to publish them and stick with them.
Speakers and Talks
There were a wide variety of speakers in 4 rooms. All of them close together in a technical college of some sort. It was easy to find rooms and move between them. About 15 minutes or so between sessions was nice for a break, get a coffee or beer, and then go back. Rooms were large, and I found it easy to hear and see speakers. Some of the screens were slightly hard to see with windows and sunlight, but not enough to detract from the event.
They keynote was really about protocols and behavior for the event. I know a couple people got sent home without admission because they didn’t have paperwork. They also emphasized the need to clean up after ourselves and respect things. They also highlighted their philosophy: Be excellent to each other. Good advice for everywhere in life.
I like my branding talk as an opening talk in events and it seemed people enjoyed it. I had some nice comments and complements and a few questions later.
I went to see a few Azure talks on how people build stacks of technologies to solve problems. I found these interesting and inspirational. They make me want to collect data from somewhere and use it in reporting and analysis. Definitely a focus on BI for the sessions I saw, but lots of others.
There were speakers from all over. Quite a few Americans, including the entire DCAC crew. It was wonderful to see those people as they are longtime friends I haven’t seen enough in the last few years. There were also plenty of people from the Netherlands and Belgium in addition to Germany, making this a nice international, but small conference.
I enjoyed the tables spread out where we could chat, set down our beers, and pick up a sticker or two. Lots of them from various vendors and others.
Beers and Brats
The event revolves around beer. Each speaker gets a beer when their session starts. I sipped my Pilsner at 9am (my start time), and finished it while watching the next session. Definitely a first for me.
The dinner Thursday night was outside, with a catering company grilling lots of meats and some salads in a line. Speakers and others volunteered and helped serve food. I was supposed to help, but my wife and Mr. Durkin told me to sit down and relax.
Food was great, though more brats were needed. Those ran out first, and while there was plenty of food, clearly those were a hit.
We had lots of pretzels, donuts, and more throughout the day. Coffee, beer, and sodas were always available. In keeping with cleanup, we were asked to be sure that we a) threw out bottle caps away and b) returned the glass bottles (empty) to be recycled. I love that. Not something we do enough of in the US.
Soup for lunch Friday, which was also excellent. We had a raffle outside in the courtyard at the end, which is where we also got information throughout the event on food, etc. A balcony above the space made it easy to see and here our hosts.
At the end, people pitched in to help finish beer and also pack the bottles back into crates and load them into a trailer. Lots of Americans helping out, which was great to see.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the event. I wasn’t sure how serious an event this was, with the beer and brats highlighted, but this is a fun three day conference where we can learn, network, interact, and also enjoy some social time. If you want to do all those things, let William and Ben know and plan on going next year.