Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My schedule at GOTO

It is no secret that I love to go to conferences in general because it expands my horizonts and for the social aspects. However, in order to get the maximum enjoyment and value out of a conference, it is important that I go to the right sessions - both in the sense that I don't want to miss the good ones, and in the sense that I certainly want to avoid the bad ones.

I have been busy the last couple of weeks, so I haven't really had time to look at the GOTO schedule to see what sessions I want to go to. Still, looking at the program, I can see that there are certain sessions I don't want to miss, and certain sessions that I definitely want to miss.

So, how do I pick what sessions to go to?

Well, there are certain criterias:
  • Who is the speaker?
  • What is the subject?
  • Is the session technology specific?
The first point should speak for itself. There are certain speakers I don't want to miss. People like Linda Rising, Dan North, Michael Nygard (all of whom have sessions at GOTO), Uncle Bob, and Kevlin Henney. This is the most important criteria for me, since I know going into their sessions that I will be challenged and get my horizonts broadened.

The subject of the session is of course also important. The subjects that interest me, are the ones with broader perspectives, rather than those focusing on narrow issues or technologies. Good examples of the sort of sessions I prefer are the ones in the Agile Perspectives, Continuous Delivery, Professional Productivity, or Humans at Work tracks.

And then there is the aspect of how technology specific the talk is. This is a criteria for choosing to not attend. In general I find that technology specific talks are a waste of time, unless they address a problem I am currently facing. And even when they address a current problem I am facing, I find that a bit of google searching will work just as well for me, and allow me to spend my time on a session which gives me more in the long run.

It should probably be mentioned that I am not very visual. Which means I prefer that people either tell me something, or hand me something I can read. This means that pictures, diagrams etc. are wasted on me, as are coding examples and demonstrations. Really, they are. When people start showing how to code something or other, I am bored to tears, and frequently have to fight the urge to fall asleep.

Since technology specific talks often contains loads of demonstrations, this might help explain why I usually find them a waste of time. Still, even if that wasn't the case, I think technology specific sessions are a clear case of wasted opportunity. How often have you come out of a tech specific session and brought something with you, which you can use even just two years later?

This doesn't mean that talks with code examples can't be good. At QCon London, Kevlin Henney gave a keynote talk on cool code (different version of the talk can be seen here), where he showed loads of code. That talk was brilliant, and I highly recommend watching the video linked above, even though it is a less energic version of the talk. It also provided great food for thought.

So, to sum it all up, I haven't really taken a deep look at the schedule for GOTO, but the tracks I have linked above will probably be where I spend most of my time, since they are the ones that provide most value in my opinion. One exception will be the time I spend at Dan North's HTML5 talk. It might be technology specific, but since it is Dan North talking, I know that I will be learning some new perspectives from it which I can use in the future.