Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A round-up of my GOTO Aarhus experience

Let's pretend for a moment that it is not nearly two weeks since I got back from GOTO Aarhus, and thus this blogpost really should have been written at least a week ago. Let's instead say that I've let my thoughts mature, before writing this blogpost.

No, the truth is that I've been busy both at work and in my private life, so I haven't really had the time to sit down before now, and put my thoughts into a blogpost.

So, what can I say about this years GOTO Aarhus conference? Well, first of all, it was awesome. Great speakers, great people. Just generally great. GOTO Aarhus is definitely still one of my favorite conferences, and they manage to get some amazingly inspiring people to come and talk. Among the speakers at GOTO Aarhus I'd definitely recommend other people to listen to, if they have the chance, are Jez Humble, Dan North, Linda Rising, Michael Nygard, Scott Hanselman, and Martin Fowler. Each of them are not only very knowledgable, but are also great at speaking.

Overall, the tracks were well thought out, and it seemed like there had been some thought given to who was invited (though I think the conference could have benefitted from a bit more focus on diversity, if possible). One thing I did find problematic though, was that the level of the talks were a bit too diverse, even within the same conference track - some were obviously aimed at beginners while others were aimed at more trained people.

That is actually one major criticism I have of the conference: They were not very good at indicating the level of the talk. Often you went to something which seemed interesting, and found out that the level was too basic for you to get anything out of it. This is something that the organizers should aim at improving.

Another point where the conference might be improved would be the agile track. The speakers there were generally great, and the subjects interesting, yet I couldn't help feeling that they were generally covering ground that had been convered many times before. Maybe it is time for an advanced agile track for those of us who have worked with agile for a while? I can't imagine that I am the only one who feels this way.

This was actually something they aimed at with the dev-ops track, and it seemed to me that this was a good approach.

So, what was the highlights for me?

The absolute highly must have been Dirk Duellmann's keynote about Distributed Data and Storage Management for the Large Hadron Collider. It was a facinating insight into problems the rest of us never faces (who else have to take the moon's orbit or the amount of rainfall into account when analyzing data? huge, huge amounts of data).

Other than that, a few other things stood out:
  • The Ada Aarhus meeting, where Linda Rising gave a great talk, and Martin Fowler argued that quotas might be the only way to get more women into IT (he finds quotas problematic, but empirical evidence points towards them being the only options).
  • Talking with the vendors. A lot of people going to conferences don't speak with vendors, and they are really cheating themselves.
  • Listening to Dave Thomas explaining something about the problems he work with to Jim Webber.
  • Catching up with friends and former colleagues and meeting new people.
  • The noSQL panel, where bloated claims by noSQL vendors were talked about. Panels can be either dead boring or brilliant. Any panel which have both Jim Webber and Martin Fowler on it, is bound to be the latter.

As can probably be gleamed, I had a great time, and I am definitely looking forward to going there again. Still, as I said, I would love for better markings of the levels of the talks, and also for there to be an advanced agile track.

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