What is a "lightning talk"?

A lightning talk is a quick presentation. See also discussion of lightning talks in Wikipedia.

As well as being tremendously interesting and entertaining for attendees, the conference organizers recognize that lightning talks offer an unequaled opportunity for new speakers to present for the first time without going to the lengths required for a longer talk.

How do I give a "lightning talk"?

Mark Fowler's article has advice on effectively lightning talking.

How quick should my UnConference Lightning Talk be?

Your lightning talk should last no more than ten minutes. You will be cut off at ten minutes. A five-minute lightning talk is totally fine. A two-minute lightning talk is totally fine. Your talk should take as long as it needs to take to make a point, and no longer. Make a point. But if you need a few minutes to motivate your point, and then make it, and it takes nine minutes, that's okay too.

Lightning talks are scheduled as they are in the scheduling grid to provide a reasonable estimate of how long the activity will actually take. By no means do you need to be sure to exactly fill some particular ten minute slot.

How can I help?

Volunteer topics you could give a talk about. Lightning talks are a good way to leverage your existing experiences and interests into knowledge sharing. If you're an established presenter, people are likely interested in quick updates on what you're up to. If you're new to presenting, a lightning talk is a great way to get started. Likely there's something you're already doing at work, something you're ready to present today with a minimum of preparation.

Express interest in the talks others have proposed. Gaging interest is one important way for a slate of talks to emerge from the ideas on this page. It isn't necessary to go into the UnConference with an ironclad schedule of talks, but it is desirable to go into the conference with plenty of lightning talks being ready to go, with participants comfortable that they're ready to present something that others are open to hearing. You can express interest in others' talks here, and you can even guide others towards focusing their remarks closer to what you're looking for. (A few iconoclastic talks that people don't really want to hear but nonetheless need to hear would be interesting too.)

Propose topics you'd like others to talk about. Help others to realize they have expertise and experiences you'd like to hear about.

Brainstorm random ideas for talks, even bad ideas These can help trigger an idea or three.

Concrete Lightning Talk Ideas

These are ideas that intended conference participants have for lightning talks that they could give. As the UnConference approaches, plans will become more firm for how much time will be spent on lightning talks, whether they are plenary or concurrent, and which talks are scheduled. This is an UnConference, so of course plans can change and in particular nothing prevents using unscheduled time for presentation of additional topics or followup on these topics. But the idea is to go into the conference with confidence that there are plenty of available talks and participants are comfortable presenting them.

Right now, the goal is to encourage as many participants as possible to suggest what talks they might give, so that others can express interest in what's here, disappointment at what's not here, and thereby guide towards a good slate of talks.

Lightning talks UnConference Participants could give

(I bet you could give a lightning talk on the topics you listed as expertise and experience on the participants page where you signed up to attend the UnConference.)


Talk topic

People particularly interested in hearing this talk, comments

Andrew Petro

The Scientific Method and Technical Troubleshooting - What can software debugging and troubleshooting learn from science? The value of creating hypotheses, of formulating before an experiment what the hypothesis predicts and so what knowledge can be gained from the experiment. On keeping a software development "lab notebook".

Ryan Lim Anastasia Cheetham

Bill Thompson

The Big Rewrite and the Pursuit of Greatness

Andrew Petro Susan Bramhall

Susan Bramhall

Cute tricks with uPortal: Multiple Guest Layouts

Andrew Petro Anastasia Cheetham Sherwin Harris

Susan Bramhall

What Is Identity Management Anyway?

Andrew Petro Ryan LimSherwin Harris

Eric Dalquist

Learn to build, deploy, and develop uPortal 3 (under Maven2) in ten minutes

Andrew Petro Ryan Lim Anastasia CheethamSherwin Harris

Jason Shao

LMS Portal Integration - Current State & Lay of the Land

Sherwin Harris Susan Bramhall

Jonathan Markow

JA-SIG's mission has morphed since our early days of starting out as a "Java in Administration - Special Interest Group."  Where are we now and where are we headed?


Jonathan Markow

How would be recognize a new JA-SIG project when we see one?  Let's talk about a formal project incubation process.


Aaron Godert

Effective work environments for technical people. Cube farms? Offices with doors? Bullpens? Open spaces? Couches? Coffee shops? Home? Second life? (Presentation)

Andrew Petro Ryan Lim Aaron Godert Anastasia Cheetham

Aaron Godert

Grab bag of development management tricks - tools and uses, key practices (Presentation)

Andrew Petro Aaron Godert Anastasia CheethamSherwin Harris

Drew Wills

Cernunnos and uPortal 3: Maintenance & Migration Tools

Susan Bramhall, Andrew PetroSherwin Harris

Drew Wills

A concrete implementation of "su" ("switch user") in uPortal: Impersonation Portlet

Andrew PetroSherwin Harris

Drew Wills

Cernunnos in Portlets

Sherwin Harris

Jim Helwig

Easy configuration of the WebProxy portlet - could we have this in uP3, pretty please?


Gary Thompson

Getting Down with UCD

Gary Thompson

Gary Thompson

HTML: Neither Here Nor There

Gary Thompson

Gary Thompson

Designers are Whiners and Developers are Lazy: A Matter of Perspective

Gary Thompson Anastasia Cheetham

Gary Thompson

uPortal's Biggest User Experience Problems (and How I Know)

Gary Thompson Anastasia Cheetham

Gary Thompson

Putting Lipstick on the Pig

Gary Thompson

Gary Thompson

How to Associate "Sleek" and "Elegant" with "Portal"

Gary Thompson

Barbara Glover

What is a "UCamp" and why should I attend?

Barbara Glover

Anastasia Cheetham

Whirlwind tour of Fluid progress to date


Colin Clark

Who contributes to a successful user experience? Planning a software team


Allison Bloodworth

What are user interface design patterns and how might they help anyone developing user interfaces and interactions? (Including info on Fluid plans for UI design patterns)


Lightning talk topics UnConference Participants would like to see someone give

What topics would you like to hear presented? (Yes, this relates closely to the column on what participants would like to learn about on the participants page where you signed up).


Who is interested in consuming this talk

Who could present this talk

Attributes in the CAS 3.1 responses: what do they look like, how might I consume them

Andrew PetroSherwin Harris

Scott Battaglia, Andrew Petro hopes.

Why Spring PortletMVC is not overkill for even the simplest portlet

Andrew Petro Anastasia CheethamSherwin Harris

John Lewis, Andrew Petro hopes,

Spring PortletMVC Roadmap (esp related to JSR-286)

Jason Shao Anastasia Cheetham

John Lewis?

Cute tricks with uPortal: Search and Use it Now features of Ajax content selector

Susan Bramhall, Andrew Petro

Susan Bramhall hopes Jennifer Bourey will give this one

Using PAGS - The beginners guide to happy user management

Sherwin Harris

Andrew Petro?

Any ideas that anyone has for Lightning Talks, whether they're good or not

This is for brainstorming. Feel free to add your ideas here. You don't have to be ready to present the idea, or think anyone else might present it. You don't even have to think it's a good idea. However, if you do think it's a good idea, or if interest is growing, feel free to "graduate" the idea to the above category of desired talks needing speakers.


Who is interested

Involving students in developing portal content and services

Andrew Petro, Sherwin Harris

Suggestions for how to make better use of vendors and consultants

Andrew Petro could give a talk along these lines. The idea here is not a Unicon sales pitch, but rather quick ideas about ways to use vendors and consultants that advance open source software versus ways that seem to miss available efficiencies or even result in throwaway efforts, ideally with nods to relevant examples. The fact is that guns-for-hire will more or less do whatever you, the higher education customer, ask them to do, and so the core idea here is opportunities in the requests made of consultants - ask that their work include effective efforts to advance shared open source software.

Blogging effectively: a quick tour of examples of what works well

Andrew Petro thinks talking about blogging is second in fun only to blogging about blogging
 Anastasia Cheetham Allison Bloodworth

Hallway usability testing demonstrated live in ten minutes

Andrew Petro has read about and been excited about "hallway usability testing" and the assertion that this relatively low-resource approach can achieve some of the usability improvements of more formal and expensive usability testing. The idea here would be to actually perform live usability testing of something, projected up onto the screen, with a usability specialist narrating salient points of how to do it and what is working well and poorly.
Anastasia Cheetham