Why I enjoy visiting software development conferences
I think I went to my first software development conference in 2007. Since then I’ve participated in quite a few of them, sometimes as a regular attendee, sometimes as a speaker.
“But with all the technological advancements, isn’t a conference held in person a relict from the past?” is something I hear from time to time. My answer to this is: No, it’s not - at least not for me.
So let’s take a look at why I still enjoy visiting software development conferences.
What I do
The primary reason for me to visit a conference is to be able to attend the talks. Almost every conference I’ve visited managed to line up an amazing group of speakers with an amazing variety of topics. You may hear about the intricacies of a specific framework from 10:00 to 11:00 followed by a keynote about the future of the web. I love it.
You could say “But these talks could easily just be streamed via YouTube” and technically you would be correct. The content can be transported via a video on the web - but the atmosphere can’t.
You get a feeling of how interesting the topic is just by the number of people showing up to a talk. That room where the talk about the small library you thought no one would be interested in is held suddenly gets filled completely. That joke about the silliness of crypto currencies gets a standing ovation, making you realize it’s not only you who thought the whole topic is bullshit. It’s the small things that give you a better feeling of how the industry is ticking, what people are actually thinking and where interesting new ideas are coming from.
Last but not least it’s a good opportunity to break out of your regular routine. Watching a YouTube video for an hour in between my regular tasks it becomes very easy to just move on and get back to whatever issue of the day. Having an environment that gives you the opportunity to reflect and think about what you’ve heard without immediately having to jump back into your regular duties allows you to really process what you’ve heard.
What I don’t do
Different people have different preferences. A former colleague of mine used to love networking on conferences, randomly talking to peole in the halls and exchanging new ideas. Being an introvert that’s something which doesn’t really resonate with me: Randomly approaching someone? That’s the last think I would do.
Don’t get me wrong: I do like talking about things I’m interested in but I’m not usually the one initiating the discussion. So if you happen to see me at a conference do feel free to approach me and force me into a discussion. Once I’ve started you’ll have a hard time stopping me ;-)
Similarly, I don’t visit the exhibition booths often being present at a conference. I have this prejudice that a company having a booth either wants to sell me their product (or service) or tries to hire me. If you disagree then I’ll invite you to prove me wrong.
For me conferences are still an important part of how our industry shares information, processes, practices and experiences. I very much enjoy not only learning about what’s being done “out there” but also getting inspiration of how things could be done better.