The Making of POSETTE: An Event for Postgres with Teresa Giacomini & Aaron Wislang

CLAIRE: 00:00:00
Now, welcome to Path to Citus Con, the podcast for developers who love Postgres, where we discuss the human side of open source databases, Postgres, and the many PG extensions. A big thank you to the team at Microsoft for sponsoring this community conversation about Postgres. I'm Claire Giordano, your host, and today's topic is the making of POSETTE: An Event for Postgres. We have two guests here today, and I'm really honored to announce and to introduce you to Teresa Giacomini, who works on the Postgres community team here at Microsoft, and previously worked at Citus Data prior to the Microsoft acquisition. Earlier in her career, Teresa worked at Oracle and at Sun Microsystems, so she's been in systems and tech for a very long time, was co-chair of the first two years of the POSETTE event, back when it was called Citus Con, and this year, Teresa was the chair of the organizing team for POSETTE. Welcome, Teresa.

TERESA: 00:01:04
Thanks, Claire. I'm really excited to be here. It's gonna be fun to talk about this topic in depth with some of our hosts online and you as the talk selection team chair and everything else. I'm really happy to be here.

CLAIRE: 00:01:23
Well, welcome. I also wanna introduce Aaron Wislang. So coincidentally, Aaron is also a co-producer of this very podcast, but this is his first time on the other chair, right? Also as a guest. Aaron is a developer who works with Cloud Native, Linux, and Open Source developers at Microsoft and in the broader open source community. He's the creator of this Microsoft Open Source Discord, loves Postgres, and served on the organizing team of the POSETTE conference. Welcome, Aaron.

AARON: 00:02:00
Thank you very much for having me.

CLAIRE: 00:02:02
All right, so I've got so many questions about the making of POSETTE to kind of get, to share with the world this backstage peek into what happened behind the curtain, before the event, during the event. There's gotta be some stories here. But before we dive into all that backstage visibility, we should just start, Teresa, with what is POSETTE: An Event for Postgres?

TERESA: 00:02:31
So POSETTE: An Event for Postgres, is a free and virtual developer event that is organized by the Postgres team at Microsoft. And this is our third year. And yeah, it's virtual, it's online this year. There were four live streams, each with either 10 or 11 talks. And alongside of that, we had our virtual hallway track, right here on Discord.

CLAIRE: 00:03:07

TERESA: 00:03:10
Claire, you know a lot about POSETTE too. Is there anything you would add to what is POSETTE?

CLAIRE: 00:03:16
(Claire laughs) I know a little bit. Okay, so formerly called Citus Con, this is the third year you already mentioned. I think it might, like, it might be interesting to answer the question or talk about, like, why did we create Citus Con to begin with and now call POSETTE? Like, why does it even exist? Good question.

TERESA: 00:03:37
I turned it back around to you. Yeah, yeah. Well, let's see, our first year was in 2022. We were looking at ways in which we could add something, we, as in Microsoft, we could add something back to the Postgres world. And one of the things that sort of, one of the gaps that was there was a virtual event. And I think we were really excited, I guess I should say, about putting together a virtual event to provide really excellent Postgres content to more people. Because, you know, with a virtual event, you don't have to get travel approval, right? You don't have to spend, you know, when we go off to PGConf EU from California, we spend two days traveling, well, one day each way, right? There's, it's much lower impact on the individuals, both the speakers and the attendees. And so we wanted to pull together an event that was very high caliber, had really good content, and make it available to a much broader audience.

CLAIRE: 00:04:53
I'll also point out that Aaron was involved in the very first two years as well. So you served on the organizing team this year, but last year, Aaron, you were in the talk selection team in year two. And in year one, I don't remember what your official role is, but I knew you were extremely involved and helpful and encouraging us to use Discord for the hallway track as well, even in year one, right?

AARON: 00:05:23
Yes, and I like to say, it's not a conference unless you can confer. So that's something we've worked very hard at, and I think building year over year, otherwise it's just a live stream, right? And we're looking at, you know, people don't really, the thing we want from conferences is the conferring, is the connecting with people, is the ability to speak to the speakers and speak to other attendees. And another thing I think is that speakers like to connect with other folks inside of their community. A lot of this comes down to our motivation for actually going and being involved in conferences in the first place, right?

CLAIRE: 00:05:56
You know, you didn't just make up that saying, did you? It's not a conference unless you can confer, or do I get to credit it to you?

AARON: 00:06:04
You get to credit it to me. I made it up before, but I'm using it now.

TERESA: 00:06:07
(Teresa laughs)

AARON: 00:06:08
It's open source though.

CLAIRE: 00:06:10
So back to the why, if I remember correctly, Teresa, we started planning the year one of this event in probably the summer of 2021.

TERESA: 00:06:19
Correct, that's right.

CLAIRE: 00:06:20
And so it was still like vaccination days post COVID. Like, I don't even think an in-person event was within the realm of possibilities at that point. Like, we just weren't sure what the future, there was a lot of uncertainty still. So I feel like the world events forced us to be virtual the first year. And then, I mean, I'm the first one to give the pitch on the value of it being virtual, right? Because people have older parents or young kids, or like you said, no travel budget. And it's really useful to get all of this great learning content out there. But also, like you're saying, Aaron, that virtual hallway track, the confer part, and make it available to people more broadly. And I don't know, that's probably one of the things I'm most proud of, is that accessibility part of the equation.

TERESA: 00:07:13
And accessibility goes on beyond just the virtual part too, Claire, right? One of the things, and maybe I'm jumping ahead, so forgive me, but one of the things that we focus on a lot are the captions, right? We spend a lot of time making sure that the captions are readable, that they are technically correct, that Postgres is spelled properly. And then we translate it into 15 more languages as well. So that makes it more accessible in addition to being online.

CLAIRE: 00:07:48
Okay, so I was gonna ask you both this question, and I was just gonna do one of those, like quick answer, don't think about it. Captions, do you love them or hate them?

AARON: 00:07:57
I love them. I really appreciate the importance. And also when you do get things which are technically correct, it makes a huge difference.

CLAIRE: 00:08:05

TERESA: 00:08:07
I'm just laughing. I love them as an audience member, and I don't love them very much as a conference organizer.

CLAIRE: 00:08:17
Okay, why do you not love them very much as a conference organizer? And I appreciate your honesty in that answer. I kind of knew where your answer might land.

TERESA: 00:08:25
You knew where it was gonna be.

CLAIRE: 00:08:26
Well, yeah. I'm glad you didn't give me the politically correct answer. Thank you for that. Nobody wants politically correct.

TERESA: 00:08:33
They're a lot of work. They really are. I mean, if you want to do a good job on captions, right? If you want them to be technically correct, and if you're not a technical person and you want them to be technically correct, you have to listen over and over again and look at the slides and make sure that you're representing the code correctly and the captions. And so there's a lot of work involved. And I recorded all the talks, and then I reviewed the edits of all the talks, and then I did the captions on a whole bunch of the talks and the bookmarks on the whole. So I've seen all of these things a whole bunch of times, and rewinding and rewinding. So that's why I'm not as big of a fan, but I would not not do it, right? It's important. It's really, really important. And so, yeah. So that's why. It's just mixed.

CLAIRE: 00:09:33
Have you kept a list of all the different ways the automated caption generators spell "postgres"? Like, I think it would be kind of funny. It would make for a nice poetry.

TERESA: 00:09:45
I had one. I wish I had done it for this, but you get "postgres" as two words, "posters." I think we had Portugal once, which was like, what the heck? There have been some that have been not mentionable. So, and there's capital Ps and lower case Ps and like just so, so many different ways.

CLAIRE: 00:10:16
I just looked up one that Ari shared with our internal PM team at one point, and it was literally Azure Database for Psychos.

TERESA: 00:10:25

CLAIRE: 00:10:26
So, I mean, it's just weird, weird spellings come out of these systems. And so what's cool is that you not only correct them, the English captions, but you correct them before all the translations are done. So that benefits and accrues across all 16 languages, even though I know it's a lot of work.

TERESA: 00:10:44
Yeah. And, you know, "postgres" isn't the only thing that gets spelled funny. Coming from Citus Data, right? Citus is spelled at least as many ways as "postgres" is spelled. So yeah. Yeah. It's funny. Citus with an S, with a T, with a C, with sometimes citrus, because they can't believe that Citus would be the word. Right? Like, so lots of different ways.

AARON: 00:11:15
But I will say the AI side of things really has improved year over year.

TERESA: 00:11:19
You are right.

AARON: 00:11:19
Now we have multiple options now. We've got things like, you know, OpenAI Whisper is used by some tools. We've got Descript. We've got DaVinci Resolve has a really good one. And Adobe Premiere, all of these different tools are now using AI models to do all of that automatic captioning. And they do a pretty good job for that first pass. One thing I'm really noticing as we go through, we speak very differently to how we might record something written down. And I add a lot of filler words, or I might repeat things and so forth. But these models, these AI models, are really good at capturing the intent and making something into a readable sentence, which I think is quite magical. So that's how it's been going.

CLAIRE: 00:11:57
Boriss Mejias is on the chat and he just dropped in. And I'm gonna mispronounce this because I do not speak Spanish. But apparently, "Postres" is, I'm sure I botched that, is desserts in Spanish. And I know I've seen that in the captions as well. What were you gonna say, Teresa?

TERESA: 00:12:16
Oh, I just said "Postres." I think I'm pretty close to pronouncing it right. Not exactly, but pretty close. Well, what I was gonna say was our speaker pool, we have a very diverse speaker pool with a lot of different accents as well. And so those come across very differently in captions.

CLAIRE: 00:12:39
Yes, it's true. I helped you out. I mean, I wasn't on the organizing team this year. So I wasn't part of the team involved in, you know, recordings or captions or translations. But I did help a little bit in the end game with just a small handful of these. And it was dramatically different 'cause I had some very different accents. And the caption generators seem to be better at some people's accents versus others. So there's obviously room for improvement in the tooling still. And I expect it'll be better in a year's time. I could be wrong, but. Fingers crossed, I tell ya. So I think before we dive into the backstage stuff too, the other thing that we probably should chat a little bit about is why did we rename this thing from Citus Con: An Event for Postgres, to POSETTE: An Event for Postgres? And probably because we're not gonna be doing a lot of the same stuff. And probably like, what does POSETTE even stand for? So let's start with the easy part. What does POSETTE stand for, Teresa?

TERESA: 00:13:45
POSETTE stands for Postgres, Open Source, Ecosystem, Talks, Training, and Education.

CLAIRE: 00:13:54
That's easy enough.

TERESA: 00:13:57
That's easy enough. I mean, when you think about it, that's really what it is. That's really what we're doing, right? It's not just POSETTE, Postgres Talks, excuse me. It's things about the entire ecosystem, right? It's all about the open source. And then Talks and Training and Education is almost all the same thing, but we needed some good letters. And then why we renamed it, I'm gonna turn it back on you, Claire, because you really drove the renaming effort, which is not simple, by the way, everyone. It takes a tremendous amount of thought, lots of options and such. So why, Claire, why did we rename Citus Con?

CLAIRE: 00:14:48
There's a piece of feedback I'd love for you to dig up from one of the speakers about how the name change influenced whether they were going to submit a talk proposal or not. And if you don't mind going and digging that up and reading it out loud in a minute after I kind of explained, I think that would really just put the nail into the piece of wood or whatever. But we had been getting feedback that, even though it's Citus Con: An Event for Postgres, and even though Postgres is in the name, people felt like it was all about Citus. So if their talk didn't have some connection to Citus, they weren't going to submit. And we really wanted to kind of take that objection or that confusion off the table to make it clear that this event really is all about the entire Postgres ecosystem, not just Citus. In year one, there was a diagram that we drew. I don't know if we ended up using it on social media, but it was like a Venn diagram. And it was showing, back to the why question, that we probably didn't completely finish. But what we were trying to do, as well as creating this virtual thing and high quality, high production value talks, et cetera, we were also trying to bring together these different communities that we were in. So the Postgres contributor community, the Postgres open source user community, the Citus user community, the Citus developers, are people who work on other parts of the Postgres ecosystem, right? Patroni, pgcopydb, other Postgres extensions, et cetera. And then the Azure Database for Postgres customers and engineers as well. And so we were part of all these different worlds from open source to Azure, from extensions to the Postgres core, from users to developers. And we wanted to bring kind of all those six circles together. And the name wasn't helping us do that. It was kind of getting in the way because everybody only uses the nickname. When my daughter was born, we said, my husband and I decided to call her Gabriella. And he said, "Okay, we can call her Gabriella" "as long as we never call her Gabby." "Let's promise to never call her Gabby." Well, guess what? By third grade, she was Gabby. And she was Gabby for a decade before she went back to Gabriella. I mean, you just can't control it. People are gonna use nicknames. And so that's probably the number one reason why is just to make that Postgres focus and that ecosystem focus a little more obvious. And then some people have asked, like, where did we get POSETTE from? And Teresa, how many names did we look at? It feels like over a hundred.

TERESA: 00:17:39
There were a lot of names. Just, I don't even, I think there were some that you threw out before I even saw the list. You know?

CLAIRE: 00:17:48

TERESA: 00:17:49
Like there were a lot.

CLAIRE: 00:17:50
So the final list, probably after throwing out a lot, probably had over a hundred. And they were in all these different buckets. And POSETTE, interestingly enough, was inspired by FOSDEM. Because a lot of people look at the FOSDEM name, they know the FOSDEM name, but they don't necessarily know what all those letters in that acronym stand for. In other words, it may have been an acronym once upon a time, but now it's just FOSDEM, right? And so that's kind of what we were hoping would happen with POSETTE. So that it's inspired by an acronym, but nobody needs to remember that necessarily.

TERESA: 00:18:22
So I found that message that you, it's in one of the speakers' interviews. So that's another thing that we'll talk about later. What he said was, "The rebranding from Citus Con made me feel less nervous that my non-Azure, non-Citus talk might get rejected. Thanks for selecting my talk."

CLAIRE: 00:18:46
That's very cool.

TERESA: 00:18:48

AARON: 00:18:50
And of course, FOSDEM is Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting, which I of course didn't just look up now.

CLAIRE: 00:18:57
Yeah, and I knew it was Free and Open Source Developer, but it's those last couple of letters that I've never known what they are. Interestingly enough, as we investigated FOSDEM and thought about it and chewed on that possibility of being inspired by that, I didn't realize that originally it was OSDEM. There was no F in FOSDEM in the very beginning.

AARON: 00:19:17
I didn't know that, that's fascinating.

CLAIRE: 00:19:19
Yeah, and apparently Richard Stallman was involved in lobbying for adding the F, adding the Free into FOSDEM. That's the urban lore that I've heard, but I don't know that I've ever seen that written up or I'm not 100% sure it really happened, but I think it did. I just dropped a link in the chat to the blog post that somebody arm twisted me into writing that explained the new name. So that's a bit of a rattle though. I kind of want to pull us back into the making of POSETTE, although naming it is part of the making of it, I suppose.

AARON: 00:19:56
And one last thing on names, we are here on Path to Citus Con, which is also FOSDEM inspired and also about to get renamed.

CLAIRE: 00:20:03
That's right, because Floor Drees, who was a speaker at this year's POSETTE and a co-host on livestream too with me, it was so much fun working with her. She originally had created, back when she worked at Microsoft years ago, this Path to FOSDEM series of meetups around Europe in the days leading up to FOSDEM. And this was back in, I think, 2020. And I just loved the way that just rolled off the tongue, right, Path to FOSDEM. And so that's kind of was the inspiration for Path to Citus Con, 'cause this was a pre-event, right, before year two of Citus Con. Right?

AARON: 00:20:48
A surprise podcast.

CLAIRE: 00:20:49
You got it, yeah. Okay. All right, so planning and execution. What was it like backstage? Like, what's the timeframe? I know that I worked on the rename with my boss, Charles, and you, Teresa, starting probably late last summer and into the fall. What was your, and I remember running the new possible names by people at PGConf New York City, which was what, late September, early October of last year? So we still didn't have the final, final locked and loaded at that point. But what about the rest of the planning? What was that cycle?

TERESA: 00:21:29
So the earliest part of the planning, which is kind of funny, is budget planning. Because that passed, I mean, we work at Microsoft and our fiscal year is July 1 to June 30. And so you start planning the budgets for the next, the following year, like now, like right about now, and even a little earlier. So we, for example, we've already started thinking about our next year's event. We've already started. Very early planning days, of course. And then, so then after that, we started thinking about the date. And I personally had some things going on in my personal life in April of this year, March and April of this year, that was like, well, if I'm going to be the chair of the event, we can't have it in April like we have every year. And so we had to figure out the dates for it and make sure that all of the people that were gonna be involved would be available during that day time. And then we move on to planning like the structure of the event. And the structure changed dramatically this year. And there was a lot of thought that went into that, right? How are we going to do the structure? And sort of in parallel, there's the beginning of getting the website ready and all that kind of stuff and moving into when we actually announce. Now, we had chosen dates for this event and then we went to PGConf EU and we talked to some of our European colleagues and realized, oh, we had originally planned 'cause that happened this week and that there's a major holiday that happening this week and that many of our colleagues would not be available. So we pulled it in a week. So even after we had done a whole bunch of planning, we still were able, we had started early enough that it gave us some runway to pull it in by a week. And then what happens after that, Claire?

CLAIRE: 00:23:57
Well, then we launched.

TERESA: 00:23:59
Yeah, I mean, am I answering the question you asked? I hope I am.

CLAIRE: 00:24:04
I asked a really broad question. There are no wrong answers. You can go anywhere you want. I feel like you were working pretty intensely on the combination of POSETTE and PGConf EU in December. And you were working on POSETTE in November. Like you were already speccing out website pages and working through logistics, working through costs, working through staffing. Like you were intensely focused on POSETTE with your only distraction really being PGConf EU, even back in last November, even though it didn't get announced and the CFP didn't open until January, right?

TERESA: 00:24:43
January 19th, yeah.

CLAIRE: 00:24:45
Okay. So yeah, there's, I don't know. For people who attend wonderful Postgres conferences but have never had to organize them are so lucky because there's so much work that happens in the background. And it probably takes a lot longer than anybody realizes. There's just a lot to do. So yeah, and I can see on the chat, like Boriss Mejias is there. And I know, I think he's involved in organizing certainly the user group in Brussels, in Belgium. And he might also be involved in the organization of PGDay Lowlands. I guess he'll tell us in a second.

TERESA: 00:25:24
I know he is. 'Cause I've heard from him about PGDay Lowlands.

CLAIRE: 00:25:28
So, okay. Well, you talked about structure and I think we should be clear about what that means. Like you said, the structure is dramatically different this year versus last year. What is structure?

TERESA: 00:25:43
So what I mean by that is for the first two years of the event, we had some of our talks were prerecorded and went live at the beginning of the first live stream. And the other, then there was a, it was sort of about half and half. And then another, the other half were live talks where the speaker was live on camera during the live stream itself. And we thought long and hard and we looked at that structure and we realized that it caused a little bit of like the playing field wasn't level for both types of speakers. From a on-demand speaker, the prerecorded ones, right? They never got the chance to sort of be the limelight, so to speak. And for the ones that were on the live stream, they couldn't interact with people because they were speaking on the live stream. So we made the decision to make all the talks prerecorded, which I think was real. I mean, that was absolutely the right decision. I think it made a big difference in terms of the liveliness of the hallway track, for example. But it also meant that we had to have space for, like if we wanted to keep the same number of total talks and we actually added more talks, but if we wanted to even keep the same number initially, we couldn't do it with just two live streams. We had to do it with more live streams and we ended up landing on four. So that was the biggest structural change, I would say, is going to all prerecorded talks.

AARON: 00:27:37
And we also went from having, last year we had an Americas live stream, an APAC live stream and a European live stream. But this year we went with the Americas, European, Americas, European of roughly the same size as well.

CLAIRE: 00:27:52
Which Teresa wouldn't let me call Americas EMEA.

AARON: 00:27:58
We just spoke about that.

CLAIRE: 00:27:59
Americas EMEA. Like I kept wanting to call them that. Americas live stream one and two. And you were like, no, you have to call them by number. We're not labeling them by time zone. People might participate in the Americas live stream from New Zealand or from Europe, depending on like what their sleep schedule is.

TERESA: 00:28:19
You can't, right.

CLAIRE: 00:28:20
So we had a whole debate about that several times, didn't we? We did, we did.

TERESA: 00:28:24
And it wasn't just me, by the way, it was, we talked about it in the organizing team and pretty much everyone was like, yeah, we can say Americas friendly or EMEA friendly, but we wanted folks to know that anyone was welcome to come to any live stream.

CLAIRE: 00:28:43
And it did happen. I remember paying attention to the Discord chat because the same Discord where we're having this podcast, live chat while we're doing the live recording, there's another channel and that's where the #posetteconf conversation was, that virtual hallway track. Anyway, I remember seeing several people that I know from Europe who were on during live streams one and three. See that, I use the numbers, Teresa.

TERESA: 00:29:14
Good job, Claire.

CLAIRE: 00:29:15
Which were those Americas friendly live streams. So yeah, people joined all sorts of crazy times, depending on what was convenient for them.

AARON: 00:29:23
And that's the thing. Some people come from work, for example, have folks come in and they say, well, I finished work and I'm joining this live stream. So the time zone, the time slot that you're able to attend a conference is very different sometimes for virtual events.

CLAIRE: 00:29:38
Yeah. Okay, so do you think that pre-recording all of the talks was the right call? Like, are you happy with it?

TERESA: 00:29:47
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely the right call.

CLAIRE: 00:29:50

TERESA: 00:29:50

CLAIRE: 00:29:51
I do remember being very surprised, I think in year two, when there was a speaker who had been a live stream speaker in year one and this person is a fabulous speaker. So they were accepted again with a total of 100 people. They were accepted again with a totally different talk proposal in year two, because that's one of our talk selection rules. Like we don't penalize people for having had an accepted talk in the past. I know some conferences do, they wanna have like completely different sets of speakers year to year to year to year. So anyway, this person came in again, but they were accepted for an on-demand slot. And they made a comment like, oh, I've been demoted this year. And that was a surprise for me. I'm like, you're not demoted. All the speakers are great. Like whether you're live stream or on-demand is sometimes more of a logistical reflection, not a quality assessment of your capability. And yeah, but that's not how he saw it. He saw it as a demotion. And so I remember us talking about that. And I don't know if that factored into your decision to have everything be pre-recorded, but it's always interesting to like try to see things from the audiences.

AARON: 00:31:06
And I remember when we were first discussing it, I had a slight bias. I really enjoyed the live aspect, but I also understand how high wire it can be. And I was hosting one of the APAC live streams last year, and I remember having to get our keynote speakers on and all of the train of other things. There's a lot that can go wrong. So it is very interesting. But what I've noticed is it does allow everybody to be live once you've got sort of set that bar and everybody can be live. And the people on the stream did not, it didn't feel like anything was pre-recorded. And I think that is the key, that everything ran and we had the live hosts. I do think it's very important having live hosts alongside the pre-recorded content. And the flow was effectively as it was last year with the live talks, which was fantastic. But we had comments coming through in the hallway track and so forth saying, "Oh, I didn't know these weren't live." And some people even assumed that the speaker who was there might've been on the live stream.

CLAIRE: 00:32:05
Oh yeah, remember what happened with Jelte Fennema-Nio? He was giving his talk and it sounded a little bit tinny, which was not the case for most talks. Most talks had like fabulous acoustic sound, but his was tinny, right?

TERESA: 00:32:24
Yes, and someone said, "Someone should tell Jelte to do something." Right? And we're like, "We can't tell him it was pre-recorded." This happened a month ago.

CLAIRE: 00:32:34
And that had to be repeated over and over again. It was really interesting. Like people just didn't, they did think it was live, which is great. It's great that the audience felt like that's what they were getting, but it was also cool. I mean, I was kind of disappointed with the virtual hallway track in year one. And I can't remember how I felt in year two.

AARON: 00:32:57
This year was an improvement. I think year one was definitely quiet. We were pushing very hard and it was our first time up to bat on that. And I think it's definitely grown very, very much year over year.

CLAIRE: 00:33:08
Well, year one, remember, we didn't even like get it set up and tell anybody, even tell the speakers about it until late in the game. So there wasn't as much expectation setting, you know, preparation, creation of accounts, getting on board, et cetera. Anyway, and then there was that whole on-demand thing, right, where they're really, the on-demand speakers were like, well, why should I show up? Like, why no one's, my talk isn't being live streamed. I'm not part of the live streams.

TERESA: 00:33:38
Yeah, I mean, I think it's gotten better every year, but the difference between last year and this year is more than just linear growth, right? Like it really was much better.

CLAIRE: 00:33:52
Like, can we say dramatically better? It was fun. The chat, I know as a host, like I was completely, because the talks are prerecorded and I wasn't a producer, so I didn't have to worry about logistics or anything like that, that meant I really could pay attention. When I was co-hosting with KK in live stream one and Floor Drees in live stream two, I could pay attention to the Discord chat. And it was just a delight. It was so much fun. A lot of cool participation and engagement. And what did you call it? The confer? "It's not a conference unless you can confer?" Absolutely. And I think it also brings an energy as well. I mean, just as we have folks in the live audience here, and it'll be a smaller group compared to the number of folks it goes out to on Apple Podcasts and all the other place. It makes a real difference when you know people are there listening to you and you can engage and talk. And the other thing I see with a lot of live streamed events and platforms is the chat, people don't, they have a very, very low bar, expectation bar from that. It's very ephemeral. You don't actually get to have a conversation somewhere, but here when you joined a space, which is like a big room where you can connect with people, Boriss is right here and you can talk with him and have a side conversation and things will pop up. And it's been fascinating. And even with this last event, you as a host being able to engage during the talks with the people who are there, that is, it's a very cool pattern. So before we leave the topics of planning and decisions about structure and use of Discord for that virtual hallway track and things like that, I'm curious if research of other events was part of your planning cycle, Teresa. And yeah, I already know the answer, but I think it's worth talking about here.

TERESA: 00:35:45
Well, yeah, I mean, we took a lot of inspiration from the P99 event, a lot. Claire and I both worked with Bryan Cantrill back at Sun Microsystems. And Bryan made this comment about P99 that it was the best virtual conference he had ever attended. And so we reached out to the organizers and we said, well, what did you do? Why was it so great? And we took a lot of inspiration from those folks. I also got some inspiration from SCaLE. And that was specifically for the speaker pages that we put on. I know that's not where we are yet, but we added the speaker pages and we didn't only put on this year's talks, but if speakers had spoken the previous year, we added their videos to the previous year's talks. If they had been on this podcast, we added that. So we created more richness for the attendees to get more information. And then of course we did the speaker surveys. So that was long-winded, but yes, lots of research. Can you remember where else we got some inspiration from, Claire?

CLAIRE: 00:37:04
I mean, I think we definitely looked at all of the Postgres community events that we love. And even the Postgres community conference guidelines POSETTE does not qualify as a Postgres community event, but that's mostly because it's fully funded by Microsoft and fully staffed by Microsoft people. Or our designers are vendors that we pay. So in that sense, they're Microsoft people too. Those are the main reasons we don't qualify, but we definitely paid attention to all the other rules and guidelines and tried to be as community-centric as possible. And so I feel at least inspired by all the PG events that I've been to and just that all the relationships, right? The amazing people you've met.

TERESA: 00:37:59
Absolutely. Yep, absolutely.

CLAIRE: 00:38:02
I'm gonna drop a link in the chat to one of the speaker pages for POSETTE 'cause this year is the first year we had dedicated speaker pages. And I'm choosing Adam Wolk because he was a speaker last year. So you can see a link to his video from last year. And he did turn in one of the speaker interviews that you mentioned earlier, Teresa. And also because his name starts with an A.

TERESA: 00:38:25
(Teresa laughs)

CLAIRE: 00:38:27
So he's at the top of the list as one of the first ones I'm like, "Oh yeah, he was a speaker." So I'm not playing favorites here or anything like that.

AARON: 00:38:33
And Teresa mentioned earlier this week that having the speaker page, for example, sorry, having the speaker interviews on the speaker page or having the previous talks on the speaker page was something we got from the Southern California Linux Expo. So we learn a tremendous amount from open source community events across the spectrum. And we all have our favorites, you know, go to KubeCon, SCaLE, OSCON, the last one that was there, GopherCon, PyCon. In fact, we all met, I met the Citus Data folks just after your acquisition at PyCon. I remember we even had separate booths at that stage. And all of these events that really care about their communities have so much to learn from. And we just borrow and share back across the board.

CLAIRE: 00:39:18
Okay. We haven't talked about talk selection. Because I'm hosting this podcast, I'm a little sensitive to turning the conversation back to me. So, but I feel like we can't ignore talk selection. So I don't know, what should we say about it? Help me out.

TERESA: 00:39:39
So Claire, you were the chair of the talk selection team as every, I don't know if everyone knows, but everyone, Claire was the chair of the talk selection team. What were some of the, what were sort of your golden rules? Like when you were working on that?

CLAIRE: 00:40:00
I don't know if we have golden rules per se. I definitely, when, I learned a lot when I was on the PgDay SF talk selection team. I think we called it a program committee. And Christophe Pettus was the chair. And one of the things I really liked about that is he clearly, he gave us clear and crisp guidance at every stage. Like, and there was like a two stage decision making process. The first was asynchronous, like asynchronous where each person would review all of the proposals and then vote on them. But then we had a second stage that was synchronous where we would all get together and we would look at, you know, he had taken all the voting and put together a proposal. And then we would look at it from different angles holistically and try to figure out like, could we make the potential schedule better? Like was something dropped off the list that really should be added back on the schedule and what kind of trade should we do? Anyway, so that's kind of the high level process that we used. It was definitely a two stage process, asynchronous, and then we'd get together. Fabulous, I think probably the most important part of talk selection is having a really clear CFP that gives helpful guidance to potential submitters. Like we have this great set of resources that we link to on the CFP page on the website that you maintain, that you publish, Teresa. And we try to give people examples of types of talks and very specific guidance. So I think I'd be curious, I'll be curious to see in the survey data, like if you get any positive or negative feedback about the CFP process. But that's part of the equation. The other part of the equation up front is just recruiting a great talk selection team. So we have Melanie Plageman and Daniel Gustafsson and Alicja Kucharczyk, did I say it right? On the team. And so they were fabulous to work with. And we all, the four of us collaborated really well together. But I definitely saw my job, like you think about people rowing in a skull for crew and the person who's the stroke versus the coxswain versus people in the other chairs, everybody has a different role. And I don't know, I do take that chair role and that giving guidance role pretty seriously. But we had a tough time. We had 184 proposals and we could only accept 38 of them. So it was hard. Anyway.

AARON: 00:42:37
And things have become more competitive year over year. And the quality of the CFP submissions that we've received has just been amazing. I remember from last year, there are so many talks. You could have a whole other conference with the talks that may not have made that particular event that year.

TERESA: 00:42:58
So I can, I mean, I can share. I know Pino asked for a little bit of survey data. I'm quite pleased with our survey data. I'm also, you know, I'm uncomfortable tooting my own horn or whatever. This is not my horn. This is like the whole team's horn. So please, anyway. So I don't know if you all are aware of what NPS scores, this is how likely are you to attend? And that is an 81, which is pretty darn awesome. Regarding the talks, people, we had a question in our event survey, is the collection of 42 talks useful to you across all four live streams? And three quarters of the people said flat out yes. And the other quarter said some definitely are. So I think you did an excellent job of your talk selection, Claire, of the team. When people were asked what delighted them most, talks was mentioned the most often. So yeah, so the talk selection, I think.

CLAIRE: 00:44:18
I know that I talked to Daniel Gustafsson earlier this week, and he chooses his words carefully, right? And he does not compliment overly easily, if that makes sense. If you get a compliment from Daniel, you feel good about it. And he was quite pleased with the talk selection and felt like we made some good choices. So that was kind of cool. I put a link in the show notes in the Discord about our talk selection process. So this was the first year that we published a post that gave kind of insight behind the curtain about the process we used and trying to give some transparency into that. And I did get feedback from a Postgres developer on Mastodon, I think, in response to this blog post, thanking me for writing it and saying that, you know, they've submitted to a whole bunch of conferences and sometimes, you know, do get rejected. We all get rejected sometimes. And that it was helpful to get a better understanding. So that was kind of cool too, right? Feeling like it was worth writing this blog post. And we're not the only ones. I think PGConfdev, Paul Ramsey, wrote a great blog post about their talk selection process this year. And I think the pgDay Paris folks also wrote something after the fact as well. Okay, so that's talk selection. Is there anything else we should say about that?

AARON: 00:45:56
I think there's a couple of things. The encouragement of first-time speakers. I mean, this is not talk selection per se, but getting people to that point of submitting a talk has been really important. And we've encouraged a number of people to be first-time speakers, which I think is really, really good. And also being there, I think there is a feedback loop that you need with the community in order to get people to submit talks rather than just a certain subset of people who are already very familiar with the conference circuit, for example. And you've done talks on, and talks and blog posts, Claire, about why to give a Postgres talk, for example. And I think that is very helpful to people too.

CLAIRE: 00:46:35
That's actually a really good point. As I talked about the components, number one, having a clear CFP, number two, recruiting a talk selection team, and then being transparent about who they are, letting everybody know upfront. But we also did a lot of work, so kind of point number three, trying to really make sure as broad and as diverse a set of people as possible knew about the CFP. Both as a public service, like there's nothing worse than finding out about a CFP the day after it closes, and being like, "Darn, I missed it." It's disappointing, right? But also because if people don't know about it, they're not gonna submit. And for some people, if they're not encouraged, they're not gonna submit, right? Particularly if they're new, like you said, new speakers sometimes need a little nudge.

AARON: 00:47:28
And there are so many people out there with just fantastic things to talk about that wouldn't automatically think, "Hey, I could give a talk about this," or "I should share this out there." And once you get them to it, you hear things that you wouldn't have otherwise heard.

CLAIRE: 00:47:43

TERESA: 00:47:44
Pino just asked a question about whether pre-recorded talks are friendlier to first-time speakers. And I think it depends on the person. What's Marco's answer to everything? It depends, Jelte, it depends. Some folks, it was definitely easier because they were nervous, they could correct mistakes if they wanted to and things like that. And other first-time speakers found it hard because you're speaking to an empty room, right? And so they didn't get the feedback from the audience.

AARON: 00:48:27
I know a lot of people who get that energy, and myself included, when speaking to a room of people. And that's something we continue to think about a lot, is how to make sure people feel that feedback. I think we've done that for the actual delivery of the talk after it's been recorded, so that people receive that feedback through the hallway track, 'cause nobody wants to just put something out into the world and not have that feedback. But I do think we'll get to the stage where we can have places where a pre-recorded talk might be recorded with a group of other people, and you actually get that energy back, just like we do even in this podcast here.

CLAIRE: 00:49:04
So, I heard a compliment the other day. This is not meant to be a victory lap and compliments only. Like, we probably should talk about any of the more painful parts behind the scenes in the making of POSETTE But I just want to share this compliment with the two of you and with the rest of the organizing team, including Isaac, Isaac Alvez and My Nguyen. They said that, well, I heard the compliment in two places. Once at the speaker and organizer kind of pre-event cocktail hour, social hours, what it was called at PGDay Chicago, where somebody said, "I love all of the designs and the graphics that I see associated with POSETTE" They said, "They're so delightful. They're so fun. They're so," I don't know if they said, "beautiful or enticing." I don't remember all the adjectives. I just remember the feeling that, and that was Elizabeth Christensen. And the feeling that she gave me of just enthusiasm that she was getting from the visual design and the branding around POSETTE So that's kind of like compliment number one. And then this week, I was in a leadership team meeting with kind of like my boss's staff and the engineering director's staff. And people basically talked about the professional vibe that they got from the designs, the live streams, the graphics, the webpages, whatever, the whole kit and caboodle. And so, I mean, let's talk about the visual design and branding or the pink elephant mascot that you used. Like, was this important or did you just throw it together? Or?

TERESA: 00:50:46
Well, Claire, you know the answer.

CLAIRE: 00:50:51
Yeah but the audience. The listeners don't know the answer.

TERESA: 00:50:53
And Claire. Yeah, no, there was, you know, we knew we wanted an elephant, right? It's a Postgres event after all. Even when it was named Citus Con, we wanted an elephant, not a unicorn. And so there was, I don't, again, I don't remember how many options we had that first year, but we did end up landing on our fabulous pink elephant that I just love to death.

CLAIRE: 00:51:27
Yeah, he's quite adorable. And I like the fact that when something has a mascot, that mascot transcends years, right? It just, it can stick with you. Like, imagine POSETTE in 10 years time or five years time. Like, I imagine it will still be the same pink mascot, even as other elements of the design evolve and, you know, grow older, et cetera.

AARON: 00:51:50
And cute animal.

TERESA: 00:51:52
Yeah, we added more purple to the background.

AARON: 00:51:55
Cute animal mascots in open source communities is a recurring theme. When you look at all the favorite language communities, you know, Python and snakes and Rust and Ferris the crab and gophers. And for the Go community, it's obviously Postgres, the elephant, it's a lot of fun. People like fun.

CLAIRE: 00:52:14
Okay, well, shout out to Teresa, you as chair of the organizing team and Isaac and My for just doing a great job on the visual design and giving us a mascot that we can all gravitate toward, I guess. So sadly, oh, go ahead.

TERESA: 00:52:31
Yeah, and one thing, oh, I was just gonna say one other thing about design. For those of you who attended Citus Con previously, you'll notice that each year it changes a bit because we do want people to know where they've landed, right, that they've landed in the right place. But we did, of course, keep our pink elephant even with the name change because we wanted that connection. This is the third annual event, not the first.

AARON: 00:53:03
And I do also think our branding is very different for this event. You know, this is an event that is community first. It's from the Postgres team at Microsoft. It's not a first party Microsoft, you know, event for our products and our things. So it's a real collaboration with the community. So it does have a truly different feel to a lot of other things that we do. We're very good at branding and other things in other contexts, but this is, it's very unique even at Microsoft, I would say.

CLAIRE: 00:53:33
Yeah, I like the fact that on all the POSETTE webpages that I'm looking at, that you can, it's near the footer typically. It's further down the page. You have to scroll, but the attribution is there so that it's clear who the organizer is, so that that's not misleading in any way, right? You know, the Postgres team at Microsoft is proud to be the organizer of an event for Postgres. I love the inclusion of attribution, but the fact that it's not like hitting you over the head at the top. I just think that's a nice balance for a community first kind of event, which is probably no different than a lot of the other community events where like the sponsors are visible or they should be. They are like, go to the PG Conf EU thing. The sponsors are down a sidebar of the pages and they're quite visible, which is good. Like you want to know who's paying for this thing, right? Who's hosting it. I go to a friend's cocktail party. I want to go say thank you to the host and hostess or host and host and whoever it is that has organized it and show appreciation for it too.

TERESA: 00:54:42
Yeah, and I think, I mean, that is something that we've worked hard on our Postgres community team, to do consistently. If you look at our socks that we give away at all of our events, and by the way, there are POSETTE socks. They, Microsoft is on the bottom, right? It's not way up high. And our activity book, we, everybody knows it was made by Microsoft, but it's not on the cover, it's on the back. So we worked really hard to show that community first.

AARON: 00:55:19
I think I heard swag in there, Teresa. One of my favorite things.

TERESA: 00:55:25
I did get the word swag in there.

CLAIRE: 00:55:26
I think giving the appreciation to the community. I think this is another thing that POSETTE and Citus Con and your team overall, showing up to all of the community events has done extremely well. And it's fun, and I think it's very important to the community. Tell me some of your thoughts around swag and how you make it meaningful, because I know that's incredibly important.

TERESA: 00:55:50
I will, but while I'm talking, I was about to go and drop in the link to the swag for any of the people here, that if you're interested in getting our sticker packs for POSETTE, would you mind dropping the link in or Ari, somebody, to our swag form? Because I am here in the San Francisco office today to ship swag. So when we're deciding what swag to do, first of all, we always have to do stickers because well, everyone loves stickers, but they need to be meaningful stickers and they need to have good graphic design and fun, something that each of us, even those who don't stick stickers would like to stick on our laptop if we were laptop sticking kinds of people, right? So this year we created two sticker sheets, one that's all about the event, all about POSETTE, and then the other sticker sheet is all about sort of, I will call it, Postgres and Friends or friends of Postgres. So there's a Slonic sticker on the sheet and a Python sticker and a VS Code and I forget all of them, GitHub on the sheet. And then of course we have a sticker announcing the name for this podcast right here. So that was something for a virtual event, you need to think about whether or not you can mail it, how easy and what the cost associated with mailing is, because if you send a insulated coffee mug like I'm drinking from now, it's very different than sending something flat.

CLAIRE: 00:57:56
Aaron and I were having a conversation the other day because there is a philosophy out there among some conference organizers and reasonable people, smart people can disagree about this, but there is a philosophy that says, maybe we shouldn't be producing swag, maybe everything should be digital, maybe does a lot of the swag just end up in the garbage anyway, because people don't like it because they feel like it's just advertising. And so I know that one of the things you put a lot of thought into is, how do I create swag that won't end up in the garbage, that people are going to enjoy, they're going to use, and if not for themselves with their significant others, right, or somebody else in their family. And like the Postgres activity book, which I know wasn't part of POSETTE's swag this year, but is really popular, like especially for anybody with nieces, nephews, kids, cousins, and even some adults really enjoy going in and kind of therapeutically coloring in the pages or solving the puzzles. So I think it's nice that you put that thought into what people will enjoy and what they will want.

TERESA: 00:59:12
Yeah, it's important. I mean, why send another thing that's just gonna go in the trash? Like, it doesn't make any sense.

AARON: 00:59:24
I believe if you're going to do swag, you have to set a very high bar. I mean, you could go swagless and talk about other things, and that's very good and important and sustainable. But I think if you are gonna do swag, it needs to be meaningful, it needs to mean something to the community. It can't just be something generic with a logo thrown on the side. It should be practical, something people can actually use, not just the seventh iteration of something, and we kind of collect these things. And also valuable, something that's not cheap and plastic and kind of destined for the landfill. I think if you can hit one or more of those things, it makes a huge difference.

CLAIRE: 00:59:54
So I've got a bunch of questions about favorite moments that I really wanna explore with you. And Teresa, I don't know if you know this, but we do not end on the top of the hour. This podcast is gonna go until we run out of things to talk about. But I wanna share something that just came across on the chat, 'cause I just think it's pretty wonderful. And it goes back to that rename. And by the way, I'll just tell everybody right now, when my boss and you, Teresa, and others, when people brought up the possibility of renaming Citus Con, I was not a fan. I used to work at Citus. I'm positively biased toward all things Citus. I like the way Citus Con rolls off my tongue, Citus Con. It kind of reminds me of Comicon, right? And so I was not, I worked on it really hard. I was the person in charge of leading the rename, but I wasn't a fan initially. Anyway, it's so heartwarming to find out I was wrong and to get feedback like this. So reading from the chat from Boriss Mejias, he said he didn't put Citus Con year one in his priority to submit into the CFP because he really thought it was a conference around the Citus product. And he submitted to Citus Con year two only because he and I were together at FOSDEM, and apparently I persuaded him that it was a good idea. And even then almost missed the deadline, but he got it in like literally with a minute to spare. And then only after participating in Citus Con year two, did he really realize that it was something for the broader Postgres community. And so, yeah, kudos. I'm glad we did the rename. In hindsight, it was the right thing to do. Thank you, Boriss, by the way. And thank you for being a co-host in year three.

TERESA: 01:01:43
Yep. Oh my, yes, a co-host with Jelte. I think that, I don't, they were so funny. One of the very funny yet insight, like observant things that Boriss said is he looked at the names of the four of us on the organizing team, right? And so it's Teresa, Ariana, Aaron, and Eren. He said, "We all have names that have vowel, R, vowel." So, we were the pirate team.

CLAIRE: 01:02:23
Also got the impression. I should go back and replay exactly what he said, but I got the impression that he was suggesting that that was a requirement. To be on the organizing team, you need to have a certain phonetic sound or vibe to your name or something like that. The other funny thing that happened with Boriss and with Jelte, they were the co-hosts of livestream four. And by the way, I know you published all 42 talks already and that we should drop the link to that playlist of 42 talks into the show notes, but there's also a playlist of all four livestreams. So people can replay those livestreams if they wanna see some of the in-betweens and the banter between the co-hosts as they were introducing the various speakers and talks. But so one of the funny things they did is, well, they put on shades at one point in reaction to one of the video trailers that was promoting the talks from one of the other livestreams. I thought that was, that reminded me of that song, like "Future's So Bright, Gotta Wear Shades." And the other thing they did is at one point to show our commitment to translations and captions, I think it was, Boriss just started speaking Spanish. And then Jelte just responded in Dutch. And that was not planned at all, apparently. Boriss told me afterwards that was completely ad-libbed. And even when Boriss did it, he didn't expect Jelte to respond in Dutch. So he was kind of pleasantly surprised by that too, which I thought was cool.

AARON: 01:03:59
I found myself up in the early hours of the morning here in Toronto watching that livestream and I stayed on much longer than I intended to because it was just so entertaining. It was one of the most entertaining streams I've seen. So thank you.

TERESA: 01:04:09
Well, and for someone who was very sleep deprived at that point, I was like, "What?" "What are they saying?" "What are they saying?" It was just so funny.

CLAIRE: 01:04:22
Well, and Pino and Melanie, so Pino de Candia and Melanie Plageman, they were the co-hosts of Livestream 3. We'll just do this in reverse numerical order. And I did not get to watch most of that live because I had been up for 24 hours co-hosting Livestreams 1 and 2. So I've only been able to see bits of that on replay. But what I could tell is how much preparation they had done. That's all the hosts did that. They took it seriously. They did their research on the speakers, on the talks.

TERESA: 01:04:56

CLAIRE: 01:04:58
On the pronunciations, right? To make sure to pronounce people's names properly. And...

TERESA: 01:05:04
You know, one of the things, Claire, I'm sorry to interrupt, that I was so glad we did the speaker interviews because it gave the hosts fodder for their intros. You know? Yeah, it was, wow. I mean, everybody, all the hosts were amazing.

CLAIRE: 01:05:24
Well, and I don't think we've even promoted the speaker interviews yet, but that's gonna give the team just like one more thing to share with the world, if you will, and hopefully then maybe drive some more traffic to that person's talk as a result. Which I think is in some sense the goal, right? Is to get these learning models, if you will, this knowledge transfer out there in the world so that people, other Postgres users, Postgres developers, future Postgres contributors, you know, can all learn from it.

AARON: 01:05:57
And I've said this multiple times, but year over year, I find myself going back to talks from the previous years, 2023, 2022, because there's so much heavy duty learning to be done in there. And it's just a great asset for the entire community. And it's wonderful.

CLAIRE: 01:06:17
Okay, so Pino and Melanie did, I think, a fabulous job together. And then livestream two was Floor Drees and me. I don't, it's kind of a blur in my mind. (laughs)

TERESA: 01:06:35
No, you were awesomesauce. All of the, every single pair, I was thinking about this and I wish I had written it all down, but I thought about every pair of hosts and every pair brought something different to the host experience. So like KK, well, we were going reverse order, but oh well, KK, right, he had all of the, so much technical expertise, but also he's somewhat new coming in to doing the community aspect. So he had all of that. And you know how to host, Claire, you guide everybody on the hosting as you do here and everything else. Pino and Melanie, that combination was awesome because, well, it just was. Melanie had all of that, the committer perspective and things. It was just really great.

AARON: 01:07:38
I was on with livestream three and I love the technical and the side conversations that were popping up in the chat where Pino was diving in and Melanie was talking about. And it was really just nice to sit there and soak and see the things that were coming up.

CLAIRE: 01:07:51
So KK or Krishnakumar Ravi is his long name, but we all just call him KK. He is the engineering manager for our Postgres contributor and committer team at Microsoft. But he's also very knowledgeable Postgres person in his own right. Like you see him get up on stage, I saw him give a talk at PGDay Chicago about some very kind of low level Postgres topics. And he had a room of, I don't know how many people, 70 people, 60 people, just all paying rapt attention. So like he really knows his stuff. Anyway, he and I ended up taking the same flight home from PGConfdev, which was up in Vancouver at the end of May. And he was just bubbling over with joy and having had such a great conference up there. And so was Jeff Davis, who happened to be on the same flight too from Amazon. And so it was interesting to me too, as we were hosting, as we were hosting livestream 1, at some point we ended up doing a little bit of a reflection on PGConfdev and his face ended up lighting up all over again. Like he's still really, really enjoyed that. And it's just fun to see people's faces light up when they talk about Postgres community things. Okay, so chickens, we need to like, what do chickens have to do with POSETTE? What's up with that?

TERESA: 01:09:18
Okay, so what is up with that was one of the things, one of the inspirations that I got from Floor actually in my research was to have, rather than just get all the speakers together in advance and say, oh, don't wear a striped shirt and be sure to leave room on your slides for captions. And all of those little things that speakers need to know if they're doing a virtual event, instead of standing up in front of a room. She said, have an opportunity for the speakers to introduce themselves, to have it be a bit more interactive than just a bunch of information. So that's what we did. And we renamed it to the Meet and Greet. And I, but there were like 40 people on the call. And if we each took a minute introducing ourselves, then 45 minutes would go by, right? So I gave an example of how I wanted folks to introduce themselves. And I said, hi, I'm Teresa Giacomini. I'm the chair of POSETTE this year, and I love to garden and I have chickens. And that was my intro. And then the next person went and they said, oh, I have chickens too. And someone else went and they had chickens. And then somebody didn't have chickens, but they had two kids and someone else had a dog instead of chickens. And by the end of it, it seemed like, I don't know, I can't remember, Boriss, if you were on that first call, but by the end of it, it sure seemed like at least half the people on the call had chickens. And then Newvick Lee, one of our speakers, used chickens as, or a farm with chickens as the theme for his talk. So it just kind of became this goofy theme.

CLAIRE: 01:11:21
Well, and I think at the end of the day, like one of the things that's so cool in the Postgres community is people are all very focused on either using or contributing to the technology, the project, the community, like sharing their knowledge, et cetera. So it is about the work. It is about the tech. But at the same time, people give each other space to be human, to be goofy, to be funny, to have a real life, to share their personal experiences. And that's part of what was so cool about POSETTE is, I think, like, I think a lot of the speakers felt like they could be themselves. It was so cool to see them just talking, I don't know, and sharing their expertise. So.

TERESA: 01:12:08
Yeah, the hallway track for the meet and greet was pretty lively. The chatting, we were on a Teams call, but the chatting in Teams.

CLAIRE: 01:12:20
So there were these video trailers and they were so much fun. I think that is what Boriss and Jelte put their shades on for afterwards. Like, they really were. Like, I was delighted every single time I watched them. They're like, what? Somewhere between three to four and a half minutes long each and you organize them. There was like a small video snippet for each talk and you organize them by live stream. Is that right? Okay. Anyway, I just can't wait to, anybody can go watch them now by going and watching the live stream replays, but that's a matter, you gotta kind of, like, you know, move the cursor and figure out where in the live stream they happened. And each live stream contained a video trailer for the other three, right?

TERESA: 01:13:10
Correct. And then for the last two live streams, we actually ran the trailer for those live streams as well, sort of as an intro to what was gonna happen later in the live stream. We figured that out in between. Hey, we could use the introduction. Oh, that's a hot tip. Mm-hmm. It's just the hot tip for anybody doing this kind of an event. It is totally AOK to change course to learn from live stream one and do something different in live stream two and learn from live stream two. And that's what we did with the trailers. And so, Boriss and what happened was we ran the trailer for live stream four at the beginning in the welcome. And when Boriss and Jelte came back on, they had sunglasses on because they were just so starstruck by all of the fabulousness that was going to happen later.

CLAIRE: 01:14:13
So there were how many speakers total?

TERESA: 01:14:16
Yeah, 44 speakers, 42 talks. And so we do have these trailers and Claire and many other people have convinced me that we need to publish them for the world to see.

CLAIRE: 01:14:34
Okay, hang on.

TERESA: 01:14:35
So I'll be doing that in the next.

CLAIRE: 01:14:36
In fact, I think you immediately agreed.

TERESA: 01:14:40
Well, it depends on when, like somebody, someone suggested it to me like Thursday, like after I'd been up a long time. I was like, oh, more work. But no, it wasn't hard to convince me. They're very cool and they're fun. And hopefully they'll inspire people to watch some of the talks because they're inspiring.

CLAIRE: 01:15:06
You just brought up the topic of work. Like if someone is sitting there listening to this or walking their dog listening to this podcast and has been thinking about, maybe they work at Microsoft and they're thinking about, how should I volunteer to be on the organizing team for a POSETTE next year? Or maybe they work at some other company and they're thinking about being on a Postgres community events organizing team. Like is the work worth it? 'Cause it's a lot of work, but is it worth it?

TERESA: 01:15:35
Oh, unequivocally yes. Absolutely yes. It's inspiring work. You know, like I listened to all those talks and I got to be behind the scenes for all of them. Behind the scenes for all of that and build relationships with 44 different people, both inside and outside of Microsoft. I mean, there's a long list of positives, but it is work. But it is still a lot of work and a lot of time. But there's a lot of like, there's this line from a song that I love. It's like, I wanna have pride like my mama has, not like the kind in the Bible that makes you bad. And that's how I feel. I feel very, very proud. I want to have pride like my mama has and not like the kind in the Bible that makes you bad. Because being, there is, you can be too proud, right? You can be overly proud and that's not it. I'm quite proud of POSETTE and the, what the team of people that did this. And the team is the speakers and the hosts and the talk selection team and the organizing team and the managers of the people that were on the organizing team and the talk selection team and the people that funded it. I mean, it's big.

CLAIRE: 01:17:18
People that funded it too. It's big, big, big. That's important. We wouldn't have made it happen without the money, if you will. And then Ari Padilla, who's normally here. She's not here today as a co-producer, but she's normally a co-producer of this podcast. She was on your team doing a lot, I mean, the social work and the social promotion, I thought was extremely well done this year. We definitely had more activity than we had in past years. And then Eren Basak was driving, I think, the promotion on LinkedIn too, for your team.

TERESA: 01:17:55
Absolutely. And Ari was there, like, through all four live streams, the beginning of every single one. That was not some programmed pre-scheduled tweets and posts that were happening. Ari was up every half an hour posting, right? And making sure that-

AARON: 01:18:20
These sort of efforts, they're definitely a team sport and you definitely have to be prepared to do the work and so forth, but it is just so rewarding to be serving the community. And to the point, Claire, about funding, we get to do this as our day job and it's a tremendous privilege and it's great that Microsoft enables us to do this. And it's a wonderful time in history to be able to be serving open source communities a company like Microsoft.

CLAIRE: 01:18:45
Yeah. My boss, Charles Feddersen, who was one of the invited keynote speakers, and we should pause and talk about the keynote speakers for just a second, but his support of our time and the funding, it was huge. Like, couldn't have done it, wouldn't have had the luxury of organizing this event without his support. So for the talk selection team, we decided on 38 talks, but then I took the lead on figuring out who to invite for our four keynote speakers 'cause each live stream had one keynoter in the beginning. And I was so happy that, well, that people said yes to the invitations to be a keynote speaker. And with the kind of diversity of topics that we had, right? I mean, Charles talked about all the Postgres things that we're doing at Microsoft, which of course I'm quite proud of. Sarah Novotny shared lessons and learnings from her work in open source on other projects like Kubernetes. Regina Obe is a brilliant technologist in the PostGIS and open source geospatial world, book author, on the executive steering committee for PostGIS and having her kind of try to bring together the open source geospatial community and the Postgres community in her keynote, I thought was pretty darn cool. And then I loved Thomas's walking tour on the history of Postgres and PostgreSQL. Like that was pretty cool too. So I don't know, I was glowing. I was super happy that they said yes. And with what they ultimately, each of them, each of Charles and Regina and Sarah and Thomas and those names are in the order of the four live streams, each of what they delivered. Okay, am I just waxing philosophical now?

AARON: 01:20:40
Well, I think the keynotes were wonderful because it was such a wonderful cross section of the community and when people come to a community, I know it's a technical community, but in the PostGIS world, it's very much the people as well. And there's so many different facets to it and that's what makes it so rich.

CLAIRE: 01:20:57
One of the things I wanted to share, I published this ultimate guide blog post that kind of sliced and diced the talks into different categories and tagged them, et cetera, et cetera. But what I didn't share in that is some of the like speaker metrics that I calculated. So I just thought I'd share them here. Of the 42 talks, 48% of them had talks with speakers from the Americas, whereas 45% of them had talks with speakers from EMEA. EMEA is Europe, Middle East, Africa. And then 7% of them had talks with speakers from APAC. So Asia Pacific, so whether that's New Zealand or India or whatever other countries. So it was fairly diverse in that sense. And then of the 42 talks, 10 of the talks had female speakers and yeah, I don't know, I just wanted to share that. We didn't have quotas or anything as we were doing talk selection, but we definitely at the end, like step back, you wanna know that 100% of your talks should not be from a single country, right? 100% of your talks should not be from people with a singular type of background. So that was-

AARON: 01:22:28
I think the great thing about the Postgres community as well as it's such a global community and we're always talking about how many contributors and other folks are based in Europe, for example, it's very hard to have a North American centered mindset when you're serving a community that's as diverse as Postgres. And it's really been possible even in one event to be able to get such a good cross section across the board

TERESA: 01:22:50
And that cross section means captions are hard.

AARON: 01:22:56
But even more useful to make it more accessible.

TERESA: 01:23:01
I'm teasing, I was teasing.

AARON: 01:23:03
But that's the wonderful thing. Somebody from another region, I have some Kiwi in my accent, people find me hard to understand at times. Some people say they need to see my lips moving and all the rest, but somebody who's delivering some very deeply technical content where you have to understand even the technical terms. Maybe you're just new to that particular part of the technology and you know what it is because you see it on the screen as you're hearing the talk. And I do think that's quite magical and it's even more important in these kind of community talks, which is fantastic.

CLAIRE: 01:23:36
Teresa, I just wanted to ask you about that quote that you shared earlier. Aaron put a link into the show notes. It looks like those are lyrics of the "I wanna have pride like my mother has" "and not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad" He says it's the The Avett Brothers. So I'm just curious, are you wearing an Avett Brothers brothers t-shirt right now? 'Cause I know you're a huge fan.

TERESA: 01:23:59
Well, I wouldn't be wearing an Avett brothers t-shirt because their name is the Avett brothers.

CLAIRE: 01:24:05
Oh my goodness gracious. Okay, I stand corrected.

TERESA: 01:24:08
Yeah, but no, what I am wearing today is a rainbow stripe t-shirt because it is pride month. So, and I'm here in the office. If I were home, I would be having, you know, my PJs on probably, but.

CLAIRE: 01:24:23
So the other thing I wanna thank you for is actually I'm channeling Pino de Candia right now. And I heard this as well from another one of my colleagues here on the Azure team, Guy Bowerman, that people really appreciated that there were live streams in based in a few different time zones that made it more accessible. I've heard that from several different people. So thank you for that, even though it meant that, you know, some of us were a bit sleep deprived, especially you, Teresa.

TERESA: 01:24:56
That did come up in survey results too. Like a few different people said, thank you. It meant that I could watch some in my time zone and that the trailers gave me an insight into others that I would watch it on demand later. Like, yeah, I think it's important to be in multiple time zones. Because the hallway track was so fun this year, right? Like, sure, anybody can watch any of these talks on their own time, right? But-

CLAIRE: 01:25:33
1.5x speed.

TERESA: 01:25:35

CLAIRE: 01:25:36
With captions.

TERESA: 01:25:36
Can I just tell you that some of them sound, don't tell anyone, but there are a handful of them that sound even better at 1.5 speed. I think--than they do normally. Not all of them.

CLAIRE: 01:25:49
I cannot listen to myself at normal speed. At normal speed, I think I talk too slowly and I get really bored. So I-

TERESA: 01:25:57
Oh no, you don't talk too slowly.

CLAIRE: 01:25:59

TERESA: 01:26:00
Really. But there are some, most of them, one and a, I can't do, I think you can do 2x speed. I can't do 2x speed. I get anxious listening at 2x speed because the people are talking so fast. They're going like this and it makes me feel like, oh my God, they're in such a hurry. And it makes me anxious. 1.5 speed is my speed up speed. But anyway, no, you mentioned the multiple time zone thing. And I think it's important to have an opportunity for people to participate live in some way in the Discord. And that's what having the multiple time zones does 'cause they can watch the videos later.

CLAIRE: 01:26:38
Okay, this is the perfect, you've given me a softball and this is not planned. For anybody listening, Teresa doesn't know this. There was a tweet last night from Kelsey Hightower and I loved it and it resonated with me, but I wanna hear how the two of you respond. He said, "My advice for small tech conferences, fewer tracks and more shared experiences. It's hard to resist scheduling multiple tracks, especially when the majority of speakers are paying to speak." And I'll explain that in a second. "Too many tracks dilutes the audience and doesn't set the speakers up for success." And what he means by majority of speakers are paying to speak is he means that like, people have to fly themselves to the event. People have to not spend their day at work doing something else, but instead spend their day at the conference, right? So the speaking, sharing that expertise, paying to get yourself there, like that is a contribution, if you will, right? So anyway, his advice, fewer tracks and more shared experiences. What do you think about that?

TERESA: 01:27:47
Well, one of the structures when we were trying to figure out the structure for this year was to run, like one option was instead of going over two days, was to run two tracks, you know, still have four live streams, but competing against each other. And we, like, I agree. I think that facing it and having it where we have a single thing that people need to pay attention to at any one time, I would agree for our size events. Now, if we ultimately ended up with twice as many talks and we could, what do I wanna say? Categorize them by a potential audience, then maybe, but for the event that we have now, single track is definitely makes sense.

AARON: 01:28:53
I think it's very much to do with scale as well. I take the example in the Kubernetes community, for example, KubeCon as it's grown. I think as you get something that just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and Kelsey is from the Cloud Native community and has been a staple in the Cloud Native community, it can just be absolutely overwhelming. You go to a conference, you know, you don't even know where to look. People say, oh, go build your schedule. You're not really building your schedule and choosing between three and four different tracks and saying, I'll see this one, I'll see this one, I'll see this one. It really ends up being sort of almost a random pull out of the pot. And the track that so many people are really there for is the hallway track. And I think anything you can do that gives that shared context to people and allows them to talk about things and connect around the content really does help. But that also means that these smaller conferences are incredibly valuable. The focus is valuable and building those shared experiences is valuable. And I remember being at PyCon some years back and PyCon is the largest Python conference. It's the main primary Python conference. But it would be capped, they were saying next year it's gonna be in this city, but it is gonna be capped at this size. So the only way we can scale is through more regional conferences, all the regional PyCons, the PyCon Canada, the PyCon such and such, PyCon such and such. And that is how you achieve that scale without breaking community. And it is definitely a feel. It doesn't matter sort of how you do with it. Okay, maybe you have a single track conference or a multi-track conference, which is small but very carefully thought out. It doesn't matter how you get that connectivity, you have to build that shared context and make sure you're not overwhelming people. But I do think that trends towards seeing more of that in the smaller and more focused and more community centric events.

CLAIRE: 01:30:47
All right. Well, listen, this has been a fabulous podcast. Before we wrap up, I have a question for Teresa. Is there anything else you wanna share with a potential conference organizer who is thinking about either joining an existing organizing team, right? Or starting up their own organizing event like you did with PgDay San Francisco a few years ago. You and Stacey Haysler were the two co-chairs of that organizing team. But any inspiration, any guidance, any like what's your top recommendation?

TERESA: 01:31:32
That's a really good question. I wish you had sent that to me earlier so that I could like think about it a little bit. But this is what popped in my head. So two things. First thing is just know that it is a lot of work and it's very gratifying. So know that going in, be ready to spend a good chunk of time on it. And secondly, I would say to build your team that is diverse in terms of skills, but also super flexible and willing to hop in on tasks they're not necessarily familiar with and help out. So yeah, the two things would be know it's work, know it's fun and build your team. Think about how you build your team.

CLAIRE: 01:32:35
All right. And I'm gonna drop a link into the show notes as well because as I asked the question, I remembered that you and Henrietta Dombrovskaya gave a talk at PG Conf EU last year about running a PGDay, right?

TERESA: 01:32:51
We did.

CLAIRE: 01:32:52
In your city. And I think I know there were a whole bunch of people in that session taking notes and they were taking notes because they have since started their own PGDay. So I think it had a positive impact on those folks certainly. So thank you. Aaron, thank you very much as well. Thank you, Teresa, for being part of this making of POSETTE podcast discussion. The next episode is gonna be recorded live on Wednesday, July 10th at 10 a.m. PDT. The guest will be Alicja Kucharczyk. Alicja is based in Poland. She works at Microsoft. She's very active in the Postgres community and she is an expert at helping Postgres users optimize their configurations, their settings, their workflows, and their use of Postgres. And so the topic will be becoming a Postgres consultant. If you wanna mark your calendar right now, you can go to and you can always get to past episodes and get links to all the various podcast platforms where you can subscribe. And we love subscribers at Transcripts are included on all the episode pages on Transistor too, so you can also get to those at We do plan to rename this podcast in the July timeframe. So in the future, you will find us online as Talking Postgres, but we will make sure that all the links I just shared with you still work and take you to the new Talking Postgres name. Before we leave, if you have enjoyed the podcast, please rate and review us and just it'll help other people discover the show. Or you can post a compliment on your favorite social media platform, whether that is X or Mastodon or LinkedIn or Threads or wherever. And a big thank you to all the wonderful people who joined the recording live today and participated in the text chat on Discord.

Creators and Guests

Claire Giordano
Claire Giordano
Claire Giordano is head of the Postgres open source community initiatives at Microsoft. Claire has served in leadership roles in engineering, product management, and product marketing at Sun Microsystems, Amazon/A9, and Citus Data. At Sun, Claire managed the engineering team that created Solaris Zones, and led the effort to open source Solaris.
Aaron Wislang
Aaron Wislang
Open Source Engineering + Developer Relations at @Microsoft + @Azure ☁️ | @golang k8s 🐧 🐍 🦀 ☕ 🍷📷 🎹🇨🇦 | 😷 💉++ (inc. bivalent) | (on 🟦sky)
The Making of POSETTE: An Event for Postgres with Teresa Giacomini & Aaron Wislang
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