Today I was reading a blog post by Dave Winer entitled Platforms where he wrote

It was both encouraging and discouraging. It was encouraging because now O'Reilly is including this vital topic in its conferences. I was pitching them on it for years, in the mid-late 90s. It should have been on the agenda of their open source convention, at least. It was discouraging, because with all due respect, they had the wrong people on stage. This is a technical topic, and I seriously doubt if any of the panelists were actually working on this stuff at their companies. We should be hearing from people who are actually coding, because only they know what the real problems are.

I was recently thinking the same thing after seeing the attendance list for the recent O'Reilly AJAX Summit. I was not only surprised by the people who I expected to see on the list but didn't but also by who they did decide to invite. There was only one person from Google even though their use of DHTML and IXMLHttpRequest is what started the AJAX fad. Nobody from Microsoft even though Microsoft invented DHTML & IXMLHttpRequest and has the most popular web browser on the planet. Instead they have Anil Dash talk about the popularity of LiveJournal and someone from Technorati talk about how they plan to jump on the AJAX bandwagon.

This isn't to say that some good folks weren't invited. One of the guys behind the Dojo toolkit was there and I suspect that toolkit will be the one to watch within the next year or so. I also saw from the comments in Shelley Powers's post, Ajax the Manly Technology, that Chris Jones from Microsoft was invited. Although it's good to see that at least one person from Microsoft was invited, Chris Jones wouldn't be on my top 10 list of people to invite. As Dave Winer stated in the post quoted above, you want to invite implementers to technical conferences not upper management.

If I was going to have a serious AJAX summit, I'd definitely send invites to at least the following people at Microsoft.

  1. Derek Denny-Brown: Up until a few weeks ago, Derek was the development lead for MSXML which is where IXMLHttpRequest comes from. Derek has worked on MSXML for several years and recently posted on his blog asking for input from people about how they'd like to see the XML support in Internet Explorer improve in the future.

  2. Scott Isaacs: The most important piece of AJAX is that one can modify HTML on the fly via the document object model (DOM) which is known by many as DHTML. Along with folks like Adam Bosworth, Scott was one of those who invented DHTML while working on Internet Explorer 4.0. Folks like Adam Bosworth and Eric Sink have written about how significant Scott was in the early days of DHTML.  Even though he no longer works on the browser team, he is still involved with DHTML/AJAX as an architect at MSN which is evidenced by sites such as and

  3. Dean Hachamovitch: He runs the IE team. 'nuff said.

I'd also tell them that the invitations were transferrable so in case they think there are folks that would be more appropriate to invite, they should send them along instead.

It's kind of sad to realize that the various invite-only O'Reilly conference are just a way to get the names of the same familiar set of folks attached to the hot new technologies as opposed to being an avenue to get relevant people from the software industry to figure out how they can work together to advance the state of the art.