Sunday, October 17, 2010

Be a good one. #scna 2010

I didn't expect it, but something profound happened at #scna this week.  I expected the conference to be good.  I expected it to be fun.  I expected to see many old and new faces and have stimulating conversations.  And in all these things my expectations were met.  What I didn't expect was the gelling.

There was a meme at this conference that pervaded every talk and every session.  Doug Bradbury (@dougbradbury) coined it in the title of his talk: Made to Make.  His point was that we are makers.  We love to make.  There is something within us drives us to create.   Doug opened his talk with a story from his childhood.  He was eight, hanging out with his grandfather in the workshop.  His grandfather saw him leaning over his child-sized workbench and asked him what he was doing.  "I'm making stuff." was his reply. 

Keavy McMinn (@keavy), in her talk Artist to Programmer, reiterated this meme more directly when she quoted one of her friend's tweets: "I just want to make stuff, I don't really care if its Flash or objective-C or fuzzy felt" and again later: "The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty".  One of the most moving moments in Keayv's presentation was her description of daily refactoring a one-ton tower or bricks during an art show.  She showed pictures of this tower from day to day.  Each different.  Each telling a different story.  Each lovingly built.

Michael Norton (@DocOnDev) talked about the history of medicine, medical education, and medical certification.  He placed it all on a time line and showed how medicine transitioned through phases of empirical observation, to the canonization of an initial body of knowledge, to rapid theoretical and technological development, to the intensely supervised and collaborative learning model of today.  And throughout this long history and transition, medicine began as, and remains, a craft developed by people who love what they do

I (@unclebobmartin) and Michael Feathers (@mfeathers) both gave talks about functional programming, showing us new (old) ways to make our stuff.   Enrique Comba Riepenhausen (@ecomba) gave an impassioned talk about fostering partnerships with our customers, reiterating the pleas and advice from both Ken Auer and Chad Fowler (@chadfowler) reminding us that: We make things for others.

There were lots of open-space sessions about all kinds of things.  Laptops were always open, Code was never far away.  There were "randori" coding sessions on stage.

  Me exhorting Adewale Oshineye (@ade_oshineye) to "Write a Test".

There were impromptu coding sessions and lessons and discussions. 

Improptu Clojure Coding Session

Corey Haines (@coreyhaines) gave the closing talk, and it summarized the tone perfectly.  The message, set amongst stories of cats, and cows, and redwoods, was simple: We are makers.  We love what we do.  We are happiest doing what we do.  So we need to do the things that make us happiest.

Yes, there was a gelling at #scna 2010.  It was a gelling around a meme.  It was the consolidation of an idea.  It was a group of people who found themselves to be in violent agreement over a central organizing notion. 

Abraham Lincoln said it over 100 years ago.  Had he been at #scna 2010 he might have gotten up on stage after Corey's talk and sent us home with the following exhortation:

"Whatever you are, be a good one."

(Thanks to Monty Ksycki for taking all those great pictures!)


  1. I know some of these people, sounds like a great get together

  2. Another great #scna. It took me a long time to realize I was happiest "getting my hands dirty" writing code. Thanks for capturing the conference!

  3. that's a great picture with Adewale.
    Uncle Bob; I really hope one day I get to meet you.

  4. Enjoyed your post, it's very interesting. Nice to read something different as well. Thank you.

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