It's been a week since tekX completed and there are a number of other tekX writeups to read but I thought I'd share one last one from a different point of view. To add some context, I'm not the guy that signs the contracts, approves the expenses, schedules the sessions, arranges the speakers, or anything useful. Due to other project commitments, I basically served as backup for some of those things and then as social chair for the evening events.
First off, I'm proud of our first time tekX speakers. Easily half of the speakers had never spoken at a tek before, off the top of my head that includes – Bill Karwin, David Strauss, Jason Austin, Josh Holmes, Kanwalijeet Singla, Kristina Chodorow, Matt Schmidt, Matt Turland, Ryan Stewart, Sumit Chawla, and myself. Since tek is the Community Conference and it tends to be incredibly technical, it takes a different mindset than many of the other conferences. Even better, a few of those people were first or second time conference speakers period.
Next, based on the feedback from Joind.in, the sessions themselves were consistently solid and “good” at minimum. The speakers did a good job of choosing topics, content, and styles that sparked the interest of attendees. Even better, I regularly heard “I never thought of it that way” in the hallways and at meals. That gets me excited. When someone thinks of something differently or new because of an idea of perspective that a speaker introduced, things can change. They can improve what they're doing. Their organization can improve. The community can improve. Everyone wins.
Next, there were a few sessions that stood out as particularly relevant and interesting. Josh Holmes' opening keynote on The Lost Art of Simplicity. Although I wasn't there, Kristina Chodorow's three hour tutorial on MongoDB topics was received incredibly well and generated lots of discussion. Ryan Stewart's session on the last day included an overview of Data Visualization gave a good overview of tools to build graphs and charts. And despite being an Adobe guy, he did talk about Canvas and non-Adobe options. Finally, I've heard great things about Lorna Jan Michell's session “Open Source your Career“.
Next, we had some great sponsors. In alphabetical order: Adobe, Microsoft, SQLyog, and Zend each contributed good things ranging from happy hour drinks to toys to presence to heavy involvement and planning support.
Next, the internet stayed up. No, seriously… it did. We ran out of IP addresses a couple times and it dropped to 1-5kbps at least a couple times, but it was still up. I'm not sure what was so different this year, but it worked.
Finally, once again, the people were amazing. The energy, the excitement, the comradery, the chaos, and the passion was evident. Sure, it takes some people some time to warm up, but once people start connecting, it's hard to avoid it. After tek last year, Trevor Morse (of web2project fame) started the Halifax, Nova Scotia PHP Developers' Group, but this year, this exploded. I moderated a Community User Group Panel with Michelangelo van Dam, Rafael Dohms, Lorna Jane Mitchell, and Ben Ramsey… and apparently, it pushed a few people over the edge to start their own groups.
And with that, I'd like to announce:
Chance Garcia started a local Bloomington, Indiana PHP Developers' Group.
Jeremy Kendall kicked off a the Memphis, Tennessee PHP Developers' Group.
Chris Tankersly started a semi-regional Northwest Ohio PHP Developers' Group.
These guys are taking a step out into their communities with the goal of connecting local developers, employers, recruiters, and everyone else with the goal of making their own skills – and the skills of the people around them – better. If you're in either area, join and help them. If you know people in those areas, pass the word. Even if you're not local but want to lend support, join their lists and contribute.
Even the biggest groups started with a single person with an idea.