04 Aug 2012

The Way Conferences Should be - SteelRuby Pittsburgh

I’m attending my first Ruby conference this weekend, YAY!

I want to share a great thing that this conference is doing, which is the emphasis on community and interraction. From the first moment of the conference the organizers recognized that the human capital present is not confined to the speakers. With that in mind the schedule is set for 30 min talks and 30 min ‘hallway sessions’ (ie discussing the topic or discussing Ruby/work/code projects/etc).

So, combine this progressive schedule with a keynote introduction by Corey Haines, where he set the tone for the conference, ‘these are not strangers, these are friends and colleagues that I don’t yet know.’ (my paraphrase is a loose one to the spirit of the talk and I’m also leaving out the cute photos of kittens that filled his slides).

Corey’s talk, formally about how to get the most out of a conference, ended with the encouragement and challenge to have everyone in the conference meet and get to know 20 new people this weekend. Which sounded GREAT until the slides ended and the absolute introverted terror set in. I tend to share very little personal information in my blog, but I’ll say this: I’m introverted and have difficulty breaking the ice myself. That said, I have little to no trouble interracting, conversing, and carrying a conversation in a group like this, after that initial hurdle is over.

Back to the point, I remember looking around and thinking that a presentation like Corey’s was all well and good. I hoped that this conference would be technically interesting and possibly even some interesting social stuff, but I didn’t expect it to feel radically different than my prior confs. It did/does.

People approached me, shook my hand, asked what brought me to the conference. I talked about being a hobbyist at this programming stuff, but a hobbyist who spends much of the last two years working on Ruby & GIS. I introduced myself to all sorts of people and we geeked, it was great. And each initial experience of breaking the ice was still tough and emotionally expensive, but a little less so each time.

Thanks SteelRuby, you’re doing it right.

Thanks fellow Rubyists, I’m glad to be getting into the community.

PS - Putting names to faces with people that are well known in the Ruby community is cool and each and everyone one of them have been awesome and friendly.