I had a great experience at DevLink last week.
For one thing, I got to hang out with a bunch of really smart people, some of whom I only knew through Twitter or their blogs. I noticed during the dinner conversations and various Open Spaces sessions was that these guys read… a lot. I used to be a pretty voracious reader, but that seems to have changed in the last few years. Personal programming projects, research, and experimentation have taken the place of books in my evening routine. While those activities may help me stay up-to-date technically, I think I’ve been missing out on bigger picture concepts that will only come from reading. One of the takeaways from the conference for me was that I need to work on the balance between the two types of learning. I plan to start going to bed earlier so I can read more.
Another thing that really started to crystallize in my mind at DevLink was that the primary value for me at conferences is networking and discussion with peers. That’s not to say that the sessions weren’t valuable. On the contrary, there was a ton of great content, and I wish I had been able to see more of it. But I’m a smart enough guy that I can usually pick up what I need about technical topics online through blog posts, articles, and tutorials. What I can’t do every day is meet my peers face-to-face and begin to form relationships that are not only personally rewarding, but that can lead to career enrichment as well. The various Open Spaces sessions I attended played a big part in this mind shift for me. Kudos to Alan Stevens for helping facilitate such a great experience for the DevLink attendees.
I also got to hang out with some former co-workers from Praeses. They took me to a restaurant where I watched my first UFC fight. It wasn’t nearly as barbaric as I had expected, and I honestly enjoyed it a lot. I may have to start attending the UFC-watching gatherings that those guys have from time to time.
My Mercurial session went pretty well, I think. Based on the feedback, it definitely needs some polish in places, but I have a little bit of time to do that before I give it again at the Northwest Arkansas Code Camp and Houston Tech Fest. If anybody who attended my session would like the slide deck, you can find it on my BitBucket account here.
All in all, it was definitely worth the trip up to Nashville, and I hope to make it back next year.