Process Mining Camp 2020. Reloaded.

Process Mining Camp 2020

Grab your warm sweaters, air out your sleeping bags, and pack your provisions — On 15–24 June we meet for Process Mining Camp 2020, online and in style.

When we were planning the first Process Mining Camp eight years ago, there were a lot of questions on our mind. One thing, however, was clear from the start: We wanted camp to be different.

Different from an academic conference — While academic conferences were the meeting places for process miners back then, they were clearly for researchers with lots of theoretical background knowledge and experience. We wanted something more open for practitioners and new-comers.

Different from typical commercial conferences and trade fairs — No sales pitches from the podium. No glossy brochures and booths with raffles on the floors. No sleazy lead generation masquerading as networking.

Our first camp back in 2012 was a wild ride. We found five great speakers who shared their stories with a fired-up audience, all squeezed into a small lecture room on the TU Eindhoven campus. To say that it was not the most polished experience is probably an understatement. We even managed to run out of coffee, repeatedly. The horror.

But it was accessible and open, not high-minded and secluded. It was humble, direct, and hands-on, not flashy and commercialized. It was quite a different beast indeed.

Over the years, we kept iterating on the idea of what Process Mining Camp could be. We improved a lot of what was lacking. We added parts that were missing. And, wherever possible, we tried something different.

Livestreaming. Fireside chats. Discussion workshops. Panels.

Not the sure thing, not the safe thing. There was a lot trial, and even more errors. But we made something… different.

This year, we don’t have the luxury of picking some fancy angle to add or modify. 2020 is very different, and not in a particularly fun way. Process Mining Camp 2020 will be quite different as well. But we can still have some fun.

Let’s do our own little Summer Camp of Process Mining this year!

So, of course, we will do this online, on the internet we all know and love. But is there still something we can do differently?

Well, you bet there is. Lots! Let’s just think about your run-of-the-mill online conference, or even any in-person conference like past camps. What sucks most about them?

  1. You spend the whole day listening to presentation after presentation, you are overwhelmed with information, you can’t sit straight, and there is no time for a proper meal or quite enough sleep. Of course, there is also no time for getting stuff done, so even when you’re back home you need to catch up on work rather than getting to spend time with your family again.

    When you need to travel to a conference, this makes sense. You spend a lot of time, effort, and money to get there, so you want to get the most out of the experience. Open the firehose, bring the noise! At an online conference, however, this is just not necessary.

    At summer camp, we will limit ourselves to one presentation per day. Two hours max, at a palatable time of the day. You can be part of camp, get all the goods, and still live a normal life with family time and a normal stress level. Pretty sweet deal, no?

  2. After each presentation, there is a call for questions, and the microphone is passed around the audience. Or you are supposed to type your two cents into a comment box. Whatever it may be, what if l’esprit d’escalier strikes again? You draw a blank when it matters, and on your way out, there it is: The brilliant, important question that should have been asked if there had only been enough time!

    At summer camp, you can ask that question. While we will have a short Q&A right after each talk, we asked our speakers to return the next day for a more extended chat. Any question that comes up overnight can get its time in the sun, and we will all be much smarter for it.

  3. At physical conferences, you bump into other attendees in the hallway, and you need to sit next to them in a lecture hall and share food and drinks with them during the breaks.

    Okay, this one is pretty sweet, and there is no way we can match that with a remote experience. Bummer.

    However, we will get a nice campfire going, in our very own summer camp Slack community. Here, we can all get together and get to know one another. We will take our time and talk about the presentations, process mining, whatever. And make some friends along the way.

    All of our speakers will join us there, as will many of past years’ camp alumni, so you can be sure that there is a boatload of expertise for all your questions, and the finest company for just hanging out.

With all those moving parts, some things need to stay the same. For example, Wil van der Aalst will see us out for the summer with his traditional camp keynote, to be enjoyed straight from the comfort of your couch or backyard.

If all works out as planned, this year’s process mining camp will not only feel very different from past editions but will also stand miles apart from other online conferences — in a good way, if we’re lucky. I guess we will see. Things will go awry, problems will have to be dealt with, connections are going to drop – and yet, we shall prevail. Hopefully. In any way, we will all have done something a little different together, you and us.

Wish us luck, hurry to sign up, and see you all very soon!

Christian W. Günther

Christian W. Günther

Product development and everything else

Christian has that touch for creating software which looks good, is easy to use, and performs great. He has been a leading core developer for the scientific process mining tool ProM since 2005.