One of the perennial problems of sponsoring an open source conference is that the organisers always seem to want the sponsorship to pay for an exhibition booth. Exhibition booths need furnishing and decorating. They need things to exhibit. They need staffing. Most of this would be fine at a traditional exhibition, but at an open source conference there aren't many people attending to choose things to buy and thus the sales staff aren't keen to do all the above.
So what should we do with that booth? An approach we first tried at FISL a few years ago was to stop treating it as a selling space and start treating it as a social space. This year at OSCON in Portland we've decided to open up and dedicate our booth to hosting a micro-unconference. We've set it up with whiteboards, tables, electrical outlets and fresh coffee. And if having a place to veg isn't enough, we've invited all comers to deliver lightning talks throughout the two days. There are still a few slots on the agenda if you want to deliver a talk, but the quality of the speakers already listed is high (check out Monty's talk on Maria for example).
By the way, the legendary (or is that "mythical") Sun FOSS Party is back again this year, 8pm in the parking garage at the Doubletree hotel on Wednesday (July 23). Loads of cool diversions and I gather there is plenty more to drink this year than last. All welcome.