What Did I Do at COFES?

The 10th annual COFES conference was my fourth, and like many others have expressed, I feel it was the best one I have attended.  There's plenty of in-depth coverage of the event to be found:

SolidWorks: Heard!
Lou Gallo covered COFES like a kid in a candy store – live blogging, Tweeting, and generating Podcasts.  I'm glad he did too, because even though I was there, I missed a lot of good stuff.  There are so many different people to talk to and so many discussions to be a part of that you can't possibly soak it all in..uhmm..unless you're Lou.  Check out his website and give yourself plenty of time to read and listen to his COFES coverage.

Deelip Menezes
I only got to speak with Deelip briefly, and our conversation centered around baby teeth, but it's been a real treat to read through his COFES information.  I only wish that I could have scheduled a trip to Hawaii immediately afterward.  Deelip claims to be working while in Hawaii – all evidence to the contrary.

A lot (I mean a lot) of conversation centered around social media this year.  In past years, you couldn't take three steps before someone mentioned interoperability.  This year it was Tweeting, Tweets, Twit, and other variations of the 140 character micro-blog phenomenon.  A couple of us that still haven't fully embraced Twitter, but insist on following the conversations, coined a new word – Twurking.  Whether you're a Tweeter or a Twurker, you can get it all by using hashtag #COFES2009.

There isn't a whole lot more that I can offer in the way of in-depth reporting or analysis on the event, so instead I'll just relate some of my experiences.

Chuck House's Keynote
Like everyone else in the room, I really enjoyed Chuck's presentation.  It's one thing to be informed, quite another to be informed and entertained at the same time.  My favorite part was a short video clip of Bob Metcalf (the Father of Ethernet) who had this (possibly paraphrased) to say:

“The world needs cheap and clean energy.”  “Too many of the people
working on this problem are luddites and greens and Marxists and politicians and
lawyers and other people who don’t understand the problem. But scientists and
engineers and venture capitalists can solve the problem."

The video is out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it.  Maybe someone can leave a comment if they know where to get it.

Social Product Development
Huh?  I sat in on a session about Social Product Development that looked suspiciously like what we have been referring to as Collaborative Design for ohh…15 years or so.  Some new windows, some new "Instant Messenger" tools, but Collaborative Design nonetheless.  I don't think throwing the word "Social" in front of something makes it so.

Michael Koch
This guy fascinated me.  Attending as one of the COFES interns, Michael was everywhere, soaking in the information and asking questions.  When he spoke, it was about VOICED, a program he helps run at Oregon State University.  Patterned somewhat after "open source" software design, Michael believes that product design can happen in a similar fashion.  I was curious as to how he and his colleagues would feel when the "evil corporations" might want to monetize products developed this way.  His answer was that even though the design could be done open source, it would take money to bring to them to market.  And he didn't have a problem with that at all.

Joel Orr
Dr. Orr is certainly one of a kind, and has been sharing his knowledge with the world for a long time.  People are always better off after listening to one of his sessions, reading one of his books, or having a conversation on just about any subject.  I found this project interesting – Writing a Book in 30 Days.

Some Really Good Quotes
Every time you sit on on a conference session, no matter where, you will likely write down a quote or two you hear.  COFES is no different, and here are some that I had never heard before.  I won't mention who quoted them – I've either forgotten or I don't want to get anyone in trouble (especially myself).  Some of these may also be paraphrased (I've got to get a voice recorder).

"The paperless office is as likely as the paperless bathroom."

"Don't fear the new, nor embrace it because it is new."

"It's a solution is search of a problem."

"Don't over-analyze social media.  Relax, and find out what is good for you."

User Group Leadership Round Table
I guess you could say that this meeting is my primary reason to attend COFES.  Each year, representatives of the major user organizations get together for a brief 45 minute discussion on how to better serve user group leaders and members.  The common theme this year seemed to be support from the CAD companies they are associated with.  There isn't much I feel comfortable sharing publicly, but we had a nice session and came away with some good ideas.

The CAD Society
See if you can figure out which of the quotes I mentioned above related to the CAD Society.  Good guess.  I've had some association with the CAD Society since 2004 and frankly feel like I've never seen anything come out of the organization.  First it was the "interoperability guidelines", then a venture into building a giant grass roots organization that could take on the CAD giants.  Neither goal went very far. Leave it to Rachael Taggart though to finally find what may be their mission – spreading the good word about engineering.  The CAD Society is initiating the "Friends of the CAD Society" program designed to build a network of of designers and engineers, asking for mentors to help students become more interested in engineering careers.  Look for more information from Rachael and the CAD Society soon.

Chuck Paulsen
I'm not sure if Chuck is stalking me, or if it's merely coincidence that we keep ending up in the same place at the same time. No matter, it's always a pleasure to see him.

So that's it.  Like I said, not much in the way of useful information, just some thoughts from the conference.  Thanks to Brad Holtz and the rest of the CYON Research team for inviting me once again.  I'm looking forward to COFES 2010.

Richard Doyle
My official title is Senior User Advocacy & SolidWorks User Groups - but most people just call me "The User Group Guy". I've been a SolidWorks user since 1997, and was one of the founding members of the SWUGN Committee. Since starting the Central Texas SolidWorks User Group in 1999, my career path has led me to DS SolidWorks and a dream job supporting the SolidWorks User Group Network worldwide.
Richard Doyle
Richard Doyle