I went to YAPC::NA! It was in Orlando, Florida, and I had a lovely time. I'll write more about it later. I wanted to say one thing as soon as possible, though, and I thought I'd say it in isolation from anything else, because I think it's a much more important thing than some may realize.
The immediate availability of YAPC::NA's content as streamable video is an incredibly good thing.
Many conferences have promised that talks would be available online, but in almost every case, I assume that this is not going to happen. It's been too often that I find out that only a few talks will actually go up, or that the only person with the video files has suddenly found a higher calling or… whatever. At YAPC::Asia, they established a great track record, but YAPC::NA didn't have one, so I had no hope.
Then, as each talk started, they were immediately available, live. Because they were streaming live to YouTube, it meant that there was no question about whether it would be uploaded later. It was being uploaded now!
First of all, this meant that people who could not attend the conference could view the material. I view this as a good thing, but I don't even care about selling that. You can think about how amazingly great that is later, on your own time.
What I found amazingly great is that the availability of recordings granted me immense freedom at the conference. There were two talks opposite one another, both of which I wanted to see. I could pick the one where I thought the speaker might want a friendly face, or where I knew I'd be more likely to have questions. Another time, I got into a conversation with Karen Pauley about Perl Foundation business just as a talk that I really wanted to see was beginning. I didn't even have to think about it: I stayed in the hall and finished my conversation, because I could watch the talk later.
The availability of the talks online later meant that I could spend much more time engaged in face-to-face conversations that simply could not happen any other time of the year. It is my great hope that the stellar performance of streaming this year sets a standard to which future conferences must adhere.
I feel like I must anticipate the objection that if all talks are streamed, some talks will get no attendance. I don't think it will really happen, and further, I think that if this is the case, I would suggest that the free market has spoken.
So, to recap: publishing the videos from the conference, and establishing up front the reliable expectation that it will really happen, is amazingly great. Thanks, YAPC::NA 2014!