For a while now, people (including me) have been clamoring for an expansion of the traditional three-days-of-talks format at theory conferences, and now STOC and FOCS (and SoCG soon!) are doing workshops, tutorials and poster sessions on a regular basis. Chandra Chekuri, Sergei Vassilvitskii and I organized the poster session at STOC this year, and Avrim Blum and Muthu (Muthu!) were in charge of workshops.
I'm really glad that we had these events, and even happier that FOCS 2012 plans to continue the event. Speaking of which, Avrim is looking for workshop proposals for FOCS 2012, and specifically asked me to suggest that geometry folks suggest a workshop. The deadline is June 20, and all you need is a 2-page proposal and 2-3 people who'd organize it.
The only complaint was that the poster session was too short, and that we should have left the posters up for people to browse while taking breaks. I think this is an excellent idea that the next posters committee (at FOCS 2012) should take into account.
The business meeting
We had an incredibly long business meeting - even our most rambunctious SODA meetings haven't gone on this long (almost 3 hours). For those not yet in the know, STOC 2012 is going to a two-tier format. Joan Feigenbaum is the chair, and the "must-not-be-called-senior"-PC will have 9 people on it. Their primary role will be managing the review process with the "certainly-not-junior"-PC consisting of 70-80 people who will review no more than 10 papers each, AND will be allowed to submit papers.
This is a major change for a theory conference, albeit one that was brought up for discussion at SODA 2012. I'm particularly curious to see how the whole "letting PC members submit papers" goes. Before everyone starts freaking out, it's worth pointing out that all this is effectively doing is bringing the unofficial reviewers into the fold, thereby giving them a chance to do reviews in context of the entire pool, rather than making isolated decisions. Since the unofficial reviewers were mostly drawn from the author pool, this is not too different from how it's always been. I'm hoping that the reduced load per reviewer will bring in better reviews and more consistency in decisions.
All in all, a time of experimentation - workshops, posters, tutorials, two-tier PCs - the theory community moves slowly, but when it does move, things happen quickly :)