Reading, tweeting, forums, attending conferences and webinars and working sample problems are all great ways to try and get up to speed on technologies or ask niggling questions but sometimes they just lack the impact of sitting down and actually working an example with someone who has been there. At my work, I don't really have the opportunity to talk with DW experts as we don't have any of that talent in house. A SQL Cruise is undoubtedly a great way to sit down and work with those in the know but not all of us can make that kind of commitment. Seeing the success of a few SQL Saturdays and a comment MVP Lee Brandt @leebrandt had made, how awesome would it be to have a geek lock in?
It would be much like a LAN party from the 90s except the focus would be on technology stuff, in particular SQL Server. I think/hope a day or an overnight spent with my peers would really help me advance in my BI quest. Rather than set agendas, I'd love to get some people who'd be happy to lead a focus area. Want to learn more about the storage engine, those nerds are over there. Looking to talk about when to use spark lines vs data bars, the SSRS folks are down the hall. Access questions? The monkeys are flinging poo downstairs.
I have no idea if it'd work. I know I'd have loved to have spent some quality time talking and demo'ing shop with the speakers at SQL Saturday 66. Sitting down and working through BI with Marc Beacom or Jason Horner would be fantastic. At my own SQL Saturday, I would have had a blast just talking with Jeremy Marx about data cleansing, address and name matching. I'm sure some people have NDAs where they couldn't show proprietary code and attendees would obviously have to think about not showing anything with PII (personally identifiable information) but I would love the opportunity to try something like this.
Beyond lots of bodies and a strong Internet connection, we'd need space, power, white boards, food and drink. As silly as it sounds, I would love to see people actually bring sleeping bags and sack out at the event. I'm sure that would be a severe turn off for some but it would definitely make for a unique and memorable event. Perhaps this idea might be better served coupled with a Coders 4 Charity/Give camp style event where-in teams are working towards a common goal and that could provide focus for solving a real-world problem.