This year Microsoft held a set of pre-conference meetings with "Community Influencers" (MVP's, etc.). These meetings happened in an interesting open format:
The Microsoft Influencers Community Camps will be modeled after Open Space Technology where the attendees define the topics, volunteer or nominate peers to host sessions and then attend a series of sessions that interest them most (quote from here).
Basically the idea is that the participants define the rules and what is to be discussed. At an initial session, people suggest topics that are placed in an agenda and assigned a room, and whoever wants shows up. And rules are there to be bent (schedule, topic, etc.). A very interesting format which I am looking forward to try out in Portugal. Maybe at the next TechDays 2008? :-)
I proposed the topic "Development +/vs Architecture Communities", which got some people interested in the idea. The two issues that were mentioned more often were "Architects are the guys with the tie" and "Architects don't know the real technology, they are just theory". It's interesting how - at least at GASP - this doesn't happen, as the group is very much focused in real experiences. There were some good ideas about how to keep the "gap" small, most focused on the real issue: community and social issues. The Wiki will be updated with notes from that session, I'm told, so keep an eye on that for a complete summary.