To be honest, I didn’t expect much. Why? I thought that similar to the previous conferences I had attended, I will not learn something which cannot be learned from the books or courses. I was wrong. So wrong. Absolutely wrong.
DevoxxUK was absolutely amazing. I have attended the 2 best IT sessions in my life: Benjamin Muskalla's 'The Open Source Effect' and Kevlin Henney's 'Ch-ch-changes: A talk about humans and code
by Kevlin Henney'. On the top of it, I have spoken to an amazing and inspiring Sal Kimmich, CSM.
Previous conferences were not even closely same amazing as that DevoxxUK.
So what has changed? Why was DevoxxUK conference so different from all others? The answer is simple. The conferences were and will be great.
One parameter has changed.
I have changed.
Previously I was attending conferences to attend the sessions about technology and bring home some swag. Oh, how inefficient I was…
This time, while listening to an absolutely amazing Benjamin Muskalla, I realized that I am there because of people.
I will remember that moment as a turn point in my life. Really.
I realized that all these people around me, including the speaker are much more interesting and valuable than just pure technical knowledge. I can read more about tech in the books or internet, but these people will have different, sometimes contradicting and almost always very dynamic views on the technology, on the ways we work and on the ways we live. Books will always remain static, a way more static than people.
I am not saying that we shall not read book. We absolutely must read books. But we should not sacrifice the benefits of speaking to people. Neither shall we sacrifice the benefits of reading the books. It is just that developers like myself prefer reading books to talking to other people, even to other develoepers. Covid-19 pandemic made it worse, but the problem had been there long before teh pandemic.
That is the place to be. That is the place to grow. It might even be a place for getting wisdom, or at least some of it.
Please let me explain myself. Developers normally learn from books or coding practice. In the best case, they learn from collaboration. The most luckiest learn from pair programming or XP. Or so I thought.
Well, I was right and wrong at the same time.
While all these ways of learning are efficient, speaking and listening to people at the conferences is much better. Why? Well, these are not random people. They are top noch professionals. Yes, people in your company are also professionals. However, you already know a lot about your colleagues and probably you have synched with them in terms of knowledge.
New people will bring you new ideas, new technologies, new advice. They might even tell you something which you never pointed your attention to, because you thought you already know the topic. Or maybe you were not aware about the topic.
You will learn a ton of things which you couldn't learn before, because your brain was working in a "non-conference-mode".
If you are very lucky, you will learn about new horizons and new upcoming directions in technology and careers.
For example, I thought I understand how and why to do Open Source. Well, attending @bmuskalla ’s session made me understand that I was VERY wrong in my understanding of contributing to Open Source. Benjamin and Sal have explained everybody, that it is actually extremely easy to get into OpenSource. Even more, a lot of highly respected people in the OpenSource community have started just like that.
During the upcoming weeks I will post about the sessions which I have attended at the DevoxxUK. I am very tempted to write about @bmuskalla ’s session in this post, but I am concerned with missing crucial details. Therefore I will wait and watch the video recordings, when they are ready. After that, I will write a number of articles based on the DevoxxUK sessions I liked most.
Tips and tricks I learned attending the conference:
- Speak with other attendees about stuff which interests you and them. These might be different topics, but you will amazed how much can you learn
- Now - speak even more. Minimize your lunch, minimize every distraction you can. SPEAK. TO. THE PEOPLE.
- Take a look at people’s badges and follow them on LinkedIn. Especially the speakers, those who are at the boothhs, and those who are asking questions during the sessions. Remember, even “generic” attendees are “preselected” as they were active enough find a way to get to the conference
- While at the booths, chat to the company representatives about stuff which their company does. Find something in their product which you have understanding about and start asking questions. These people are at the conference because they love their jobs. These people really enjoy good questions. So asking “but what is your edge over such and such database provider” is a perfectly valid question
- Try to write less, especially during the sessions. The problem is that writing distracts, even if you actually are typing on your laptop or on your phone. I am not saying that you shall not take notes or make tweets, but please understand that these are quite a distractive luxuries
- Try to impose active listening. Write down questions to the presenter, so you can ask these questions at the end.
- Take pictures of the presentation. At least for me, taking a look at the photo of Benjamin’s presentation immediately helped me to recall what he was speaking about
And the last one. I do not remember when I have been that happy as after talking to all those wonderful attendees of the conference. I am happy and full of energy.
And I have contributed to my first Open Source project. Who could think.
P.S. Special thanks to @antonarhipov for his help with terminology used in my post.
P.P.S. Very special thanks to London Java Community for sponsorship. LJC keeps investing enourmous efforts into helping the community. LJC, you are amazing.