It’s conference and meeting season. Teched US is just behind, next week is TechEd Europe and as a side show Dutch usergroup dotned meets the 4th of july for a presentation by Juval Löwy. In september the summit will be the PDC.
Why should you go to conferences and meetings ? There are lots and lots of reasons. Let me name some of them based on my past experiences.
- Learn new things. This is allways named first, but actually it’s not quite true. There is no such thing as “become an Indigo expert in a keynote” and almost everything can be found on the internet. Recently a discussion here on codebetter questioned if it was worthwhile to go at all. What I always find interesting is how your fellow visitors respond to the presentations. You are attending a signpost talk, the audience is a good indication whether it is pointing in the right direction.
- Learn how others solved things. Very good are the birds of a feather and chalk and talk sessions. Here you will not see the usual rockstars but other people who are struggling with the same things as you and want to talk with (and not just to) you about that.
- Meet the experts. On the PDC this is even officialy organized. Imagine asking Anders Hejlsberg in person why he never implemented that particualr Delphi feature in C#. Imagine seeing Charles Petzold dance around with a tablet PC.
- Give feedback. Last PDC the WinFx file system team had huge sheets (the picture above) with all the proposed classes and asked everybody to annotate them. Perhaps this feedback was to much which became the real reason why the new file system is not going to be part of Longhorn
- Faces to the names. Some bloggers you read every day have a picture of themselves on their blogs. Most don’t. Now you can see what they are like in real life. Personally this is the best part of any meeting; it brings all that abstract talk and code back to something with a human appearance.
- Books. Despite the internet a good book will teach you best. Of most books there is a possibility to read a sample chapter on-line. Just one. And it’s hard to compare books. Most publishers have a big store giving you the opportunity to reallly browse and compare and they’ll give you a discount as well.
- Goodies. A good conference has at least one book in the conference bag. Often it’s a book you wouldn’t buy yourself despite the fact that you actually should. Like a book on security. Last PDC “writing secure code” was in the conference bag, on VSlive it was “Implementing security for applications”. But there are far more goodies. I have my channel9 guy sitting on the top of my PC. When your are short on USB memory pens or stress balls : this is the chance to get some. The bigger the conference, the better the goodies. Be selective or bring a big empty bag.
Why blog ?
My incomplete list shows that you will drown in information. As a start to get that organized you better blog it. If you can’t write something down to explain it to somebody, you don’t understand it yourself. As an extra bonus this results in an on-line diary of your visit. And there is more:
Who’se going to pay that ?
The meetings of an usergroup like dotned are free, but visiting a conference can cost quite a penny. Who’s going to pay that ? When you work for a company it will be your boss. His return on investiment will be that your productivity will rise after all inspiration gained. When you work for yourself you could argue : “Hey I cannot bill those hours”. In that case you are allready making to many hours. Get a break, go and get some new inspiratrion to keep the fire burning. A burnout is probably nearby. Or your bookkeeper (like mine) might argue : “Hey, you don’t have the financial resources to do that”. In that case try this:
one more reason to blog.