Conceptual talks vs. coding talks

I am in Frankfurt now, coming from Dubai, going to Tunis. Yesterday I talked about the relevance of contracts and agreement in a Web Services environment and about scalability patterns to use with Enterprise Services at the Microsoft Research "Crash Course" that was organized for professors from all across the Middle East, Eastern Mediterreanean and African regions. This wasn't my first event in the academic space, but certainly the largest so far. And it's a very different audience to address, indeed. In two 55 minute talks I spent less than 5 minutes each highlighting and explaining a couple of product features and the rest of the time was only about underlying concepts and strategy.

I start to think that these types of talks just make more sense to conference attendees than "coding sessions". Everyone can pick up a "how-to" book, read the reference material or poke around in samples at home. For me, an ideal conference inspires, highlight things that are off the beaten path and provides insights into the "why" more than into the "how". Having said that, it's pretty frustrating when you are have given a purely conceptual talk that went really well, you get great feedback from the interested people you talk to afterwards and then you get a comment like "very bad, there was no demo" or simply "more demos" in the written feedback. I should probably start blogging attendee comments and write my comments on comments. I guess I'll do that for TechEd Europe. Beware ;)