the hallway track

On the first day of MacIT, it’s traditional for the members of the advisory board to say what they’re looking forward to.  Arek Dreyer went first, and he cited the hallway track as the thing that he’s most looking forward to.  He’s right: even at a conference with the most amazing content, the hallway track is often one of the most useful tracks at a conference1.  It’s a huge miss when conference organizers forget about the importance of the hallway track.

This afternoon, I got to be a part of the hallway track in action.  I was talking to another member of the advisory board and one of the MacIT speakers.  Someone came up to us, and asked what we knew about network security.  She referenced a question that she had asked during the security talk this morning.  None of us are network experts, nor are we security experts, but we’ve all picked up bits and pieces over the years.  She explained her situation as we looked at her error logs.

We came up with a plan of attack, both short-term to address the issue that she found, and long-term to address the likely root cause of the problem.  We talked about how to figure out what levers to pull within her organization to make it possible to do the long-term fixes.  We shared our own war stories about our own experiences with issues and figuring out exactly what dance is needed to get something done.  And we reassured her: yes, she really did have an issue, and yes, her issue is resolvable.

This is why I love the hallway track.  None of us had the complete answer.  Together, we were able to talk through her problem, brainstorm ideas for how to address it, and come up with what felt like the right way to address it in her environment with her team.  We worked together, came up with some potential solutions, and identified more resources that she can use back home when she doesn’t conveniently run into people in the hallway.  We all learned something in the process, and we helped out a member of our community.

That is the power of the hallway track.

  1. Now that I think about it, possibly most especially at a conference with the most amazing content.  Great content creates another opportunity for great hallway conversations