Closing Your Mind, Staying Home

Presentations from Plone Conference 2005 in New Orleans. I’ve been distracted from CMS stuff, but I plan to dig deeper into this soon.

This is nothing really new, but I like the fact that conferences can give tagging information to make it easier to aggregate posts about a certain event. See the del.ic.ious tag for the plone conference.

One complaint about conferences: they should always be on weekends! (or at least use both weekend days as conference days). I hate midweek conferences; it’s nearly impossible to get off from work; even if your employer is not going to foot the bill for it, it would be nice to know that if you really wanted to attend something, you could pay for it yourself.

Conferences can really disrupt your frame of mind. Just when you think you understand a programming concept or the world in general, suddenly you are exposed to lots of people who are doing similarly neato things (or perhaps even neato-er!), and you have to stop what you are doing to reassess your priorities. Sometimes you need to close your mind from the complexity of the world.

Podcasting and the diminishing price of mp3 players/recorders makes it easier to capture these conferences and listen to them in your spare time. With highly technical subjects, it may not be the same, but once in a while it can be refreshing to hear people speak the things you’ve seen only on a webpage.

I once talked to Cam Barrett at sxsw, where he said that he no longer learned anything from sxsw. I understand what he was getting at; this conference doesn’t really introduce any radical new technologies (or if they do they’re not yet in that practical stage for general use), but it often can be helpful for hearing what things people in your field find interesting or exciting, what is hyped and what holds a lot of promise. I usually come away from SXSW with hundreds of fresh ideas, while never knowing exactly how or when I’ll be able to implement them. Finally these conferences can pay for themselves by letting you know what time-saving open source tools people are currently using to do their work. At Plone Conference 2003 (which I attended), the most useful thing I learned from it was not even plone-related at all ; it had to do with a free mozilla WebDev extension that let you change CSS, validate and only webchecking things. At sxsw, I’m sure the same is true (although nothing is jumping to my mind at the moment).