What is
Symposium 42?

Symposium 42 (or SYM42 for short) is an organisation created by the Oracle community in order to support the community – and recognise those heroes who share their knowledge and make the community work.

We are totally independent of any vendor which means we can be 100% honest about which aspects of any product do or do not work and we are not influenced by the current sales or marketing direction of Oracle Corporation or any other company.

Our initial focus is on the technologies that are part of Oracle or that are part of the wider environment.

Membership of SYM42 is by invitation. We recognise those we feel are key people in making the community work – either by creating great content (presenting, blogging, tweeting, writing etc.) or enabling the sharing of knowledge (conference and user group organisers, community outreach etc.). Those who have gone the extra mile, have incredible knowledge that they share, who give their time, effort, and support to those wishing to learn and improve.

The aim of SYM42 is the sharing of reliable knowledge, helping people get the best out of their technology, and supporting the various user groups and individuals who make up the wider community.

Why did we create Symposium42?

SYM42 is an idea that has been discussed for a little while within a group of presenters & conference organisers, mostly based in Europe & the USA but also wider across the globe. We had the desire for a totally independent group that would promote and support user groups and recognise those we felt were leading lights of the community.

Covid-19 has had a huge, negative impact on the user community. Conferences & meet-ups stopped, people could not travel and, with the best will in the world, a set of webinars you watch on your own in your spare room is nothing like as effective as a physical conference – and people were not willing to pay (or pay so much) for virtual events. User groups need income to survive and put on events.

This challenge to the user group community was the push we needed to actually make Symposium 42 a real thing.

We are not in competition with any other organisation or part of the community, we just want to add more support.

Why the focus on Oracle?

There are a couple of reasons we have an *initial* focus on Oracle tech.

The first is that several of us have seen organisation/user groups try and start with a very wide remit, such as “all databases” – and they have all failed to either get the community started at all or to maintain it for long. If they last it is because they shrink back to a more focused core.

The second is that all of us involved initially were already in the Oracle community, so it made sense to start there.

It is fully expected that, if we feel we are of benefit to the Oracle community, we will expand in other directions as time goes by.

Who runs Symposium 42?

Symposium 42 is run by a president, supported by a board. The people who initially came up with the concept of Symposium 42 asked Martin Widlake to be the first President, and he appointed the 5-member board. Between them they have set the “rules” for Symposium 42, decided on the structure and initial aims of the group, and did all the boring-but-necessary things needed to create and run a small organisation of volunteers.

The board members are Mirela Ardelean, Erik van Roon, Sabine Heimsath, Kamil Stawiarski, & Gianni Ceresa.

They then invited the initial set of people to be the founding members of Symposium 42. This group consists of wide selection of people from different organisations, independent consultants, and Oracle.

The positions of President and Board member are voluntary, membership of Symposium 42 is free, there is in effect no financial side to Symposium 42. Various members have provided the nominal funds required to create & run Symposium 42 as a donation to the group.

“Symposium 42”?

“Symposium” has two meanings:

  • A conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject.
  • A party or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet.

Those two meanings pretty much sum up what SYM42 is all about – sharing knowledge and having fun.

42 is, according to Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the answer to everything. We just don’t know what the question is yet…

Adam’s HHGTTG books/films/TV series seem to hold a special place in the minds of many people who work in IT & science.

Put them together and you have Symposium 42.