I just spent a whole week in Stockholm at ICSOC 2009, first chairing our workshop on User-generated Services (UGS2009) (see below) and then immersing myself in the service-oriented computing crowd. The whole event took place in Kista, which is something like a huge, IT-related business park north of Stockholm (apparently some 30.000 people work there).
The conference as a whole was a little bit disappointing - but this is my own, very subjective opinion, which might be influenced by the fact that service-oriented computing is not really my field, and I therefore don't have a very good insight into how novel and exciting the presented papers really were. However, what I did notice is that there wasn't really a great buzz at the conference. No real excitement, no big controversies or heated discussions. Two of the panel discussions I attended turned out to be quite boring, because all the panelists seemed to have more or less the same opinions anyway. That's not how you get an interesting discussion going. With some exceptions, the paper presentations often received only lukewarm reception, and didn't seem to inspire a lot of interest from the audience. Another thing I noticed was how badly prepared many of the session chairs were: I think it's really bad form to read the names of the next presenter from the proceedings volume before the presentation, and have no questions prepared afterwards. Not very respectful towards the presenters, and not a great way of getting a discussion going. On the bright side, the local organisers did a great job, and especially the food and social events were outstanding (reception in the Nobel prize dinner hall, not too bad)! Also the demo session on Wednesday evening can be counted a success, as it got people talking and interacting a lot more. We presented the FAST project tools there as well, getting some good responses.
The UGS workshop, on the other hand, went very well! The smaller and more intimate setting made for much better discussions. User-generated services in the form of mashup or mashup-like platforms get a lot of attention at the moment, as it became obvious from the many different projects (FAST, EzWeb, SOA4ALL, commercial work done at SAP and Ericsson, etc.) that all work towards similar goals at the moment: enabling end users to define their own working environment, create new and adapt existing services and software, without having to be a skilled programmer.