Tech conferences suck.

Oh me oh my oh, look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-running around with her rag-top down
She says I want to do right but not right now

Should I qualify? If I must. Let’s start from the beginning. The keynote. A trite talk whereby some ‘community leader’ points to a platitude on the screen, and…. repeats it… very… slowly… to….. give it…. gravitas. Sometimes they have a bit of wit about them, and the trite topic is wrapped in puns and merry japes, but even at that, trite.

And is it just me? But this next talk is obvious. We’ve been doing it for ages, the interwebs are full of people talking about it, you are speaking to a room full of clever people, do you think they are unaware of it? Or does every generation really ignore the previous? Hey look! We should all be writing tests for our code! This would be cool! All aboard the MSV Not Invented Here

Gonna drive to Atlanta and live out this fantasy
Running around with the rag-top down
Yeah I want to do right but not right now

But oh! Here is the token nutjob doing a niche and interesting thing. I’ll grab them after, this is worth it. So, so, worth it.

Had your arm around her shoulder, a regimental soldier
An’ mamma starts pushing that wedding gown
Yeah you want to do right but not right now

As for the first-time speakers, I’m all for that. But it is worth remembering the lessons from the keynotes of yore, don’t present it as Enlightenment From On High. War stories, yes, we like those. Novel solutions. But less and less over the years have I got worthwhile info from a talk. Mostly it is the throwaway lines I listen for, they can be gold. These nuggets are not the point of the talk, throwaway, duh, but can be tech I was unaware of, or things I need to look up, and those are great. But panning for gold in Niagara is not the best way of getting gold. Armoured cars and a few Browning M50s would be better. Though lifestyle choices after implementing the BankRobbery pattern might be limited.

Oh me oh my oh, would ya look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-runnin’ around with the rag-top down
She says I want to do right but not right now

I guess, I suppose, sometimes the ‘sponsor stands’ are good. I’m sure I’ve been at a conference once where they were. However, I don’t need any more free cheap plastic pens. Or try your ‘code competition to win a twenty quid Amazon voucher’. You are hiring? Yeah, you and everyone else, buddy.

Then again, I’ve been told people go ‘for the hallway track’, which is just like hanging around in IRC, but in Real Life. If you want to converse with someone, drop them a line. Going just for this is pointless. Then again, if you are hiring it can be worthwhile. (But I don’t want to get into balance, and qualify these paragraphs with a both-sides argument, sheesh, you can see why I’m…you can, right? )

I know all about it, so you don’t have to shout it
I’m gonna straighten it out somehow
Yeah I want to do right but not right now

Free wifi is a boon, I guess. The food can be passable. Aircon for summer conferences is great. (Don’t trigger me on Codes of Conduct, or safe spaces, or the ‘low sugar room’, which is a new one on me, first seen this year. Seriously, the rules are easy: don’t be a dick. Which, granted, is tough for lots of people.)

Maybe I am getting old, and there is nothing new under the sun. But there is, otherwise I wouldn’t still be interested in tech. What’s that Skippy? I much prefer the lo-fi, lo-tech end of things? Well, quite, but I’m talking work mostly here, not outside.

So basically, just a few days off work, hopefully in some foreign place I’ve never been to before. That is definitely the best thing. I’ve been to some amazing places. And catch up with some people I only ever see at conferences. And without a doubt, talking to them, the clever people, is better than most of the talks.

Oh me oh my oh, look at Miss Ohio
She a-runnin’ around with her rag-top down
She says I want to do right , but not right now
Oh I want to do right but not right now

But really? Tech conferences suck.

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