2017 - my conference-year


Posted by Steven

2017 was a special year for me in many regards. It also has been an experiment. Even before the year started, I tried to take part in as many events, talks and conferences as possible. Speaking to and with other developers gives me a great deal of joy and I`m very happy to share my experiences so that others will have an easier time solving their problems. That is the reason why I participated in community events right from the start of my career. "But how much is too much?" I asked myself. So I tried to overdo it by visiting every event possible. In this article, I summarize my conference-year 2017 and find out what it told me about myself.

Why was 2017 my conference year?

I recapped my list of events to this aggregation:

  • 11 HackTalks in Wolfsburg (organization and sometimes speaker)
  • 10 HackTalks in Brunswick (organization and sometimes speaker)
  • 1 fullday HackCamp with 25 participants (organization and speaker)
  • 1 inhouse talk (speaker)
  • 1 public talk at the local JUG (speaker)
  • 3 international talks (in Romania, speaker)
  • 4 full-day inhouse workshops (in Brunswick and Munich, facilitator and trainer)
  • 3 Workshops and talks at  bigger conferences (Javaland, Herbstcampus, Java Forum Nord)

That is a total of 34 events in one year, in which I had an active role.

This number doesn't include meetings I attended as a consumer / visitor.

Wow.

I just realized how busy I was in the last year when I made this list.

Although I wrote that I tried to visit every conference, clearly there are some major events missing in this list such as JAX, W-JAX, Entwicklertag and of course I only had one talk in my local Java User Group. There are tons of user groups in Germany, so this list could have been way longer. This is deliberate because I didn't want to force myself in situations where I would deliver bad presentations because of overwork.

"Can I pull this off?"

... was my question #1 when applying for the bigger conferences and planning all those smaller events in-between. Well, I did! In hindsight, I was very cautious with the choice and the number of my events. I already knew every conference I visited, so the risk to fail because of unknown factors was minimal. I think if I wanted, I could do more and better.

"Are events still fun when attending this much?"

... was my question #2 and one of the reasons I was conservative in the planning of the year. A great danger lies in doing what you really really love too much and forcing it. At some point, sneaky and barely noticeable, the fun leaks out of it. What's left is just a feeling of duty and habit.

That is something that didn't happen (luckily!). I observed myself during every conference and reflected upon if this is still fun, exciting and new. Soon I realized that the "exciting and new" part became rapidly smaller. However, the fun-part remained, slightly altered. Years ago, it was fun to see if I could talk in front of a bigger crowd or the excitement to be in another city or country. Today, it's fascinating to try a different presentation style or meet old acquaintances.

The most important thing: The fun stayed!

What's next?

2017 ended with a huge load of new options and possibilities. These will develop over the next couple of weeks and sure will create exciting new ways of doing things.

One of them is the offer to stand in for Prof. Dr. Bernd Müller, a professor at the local university. Every couple of years, he searches a temporary replacement for his software engineering course. In 2018, I will give that lecture over the course of 13 weeks. This has been my dream since my first days in the university! I'm overhappy to do this.

Mentioned earlier, there are a lot of Java User Groups out there, and I want to meet them. After having delivered my software engineering course, I will start the project "JUG-Tingeln" (German for "visiting the JUGs") and try to speak in different cities. If you read this and are interested in hearing me speak about (anything, but especially) remote working, let me know.

There is a third, great opportunity that is very vague at the moment. Maybe it will dissolve itself before everything got a chance to start, maybe it will develop into a completely new platform(s) of doing great stuff. We'll see. :)

It has been great, and I want more!

... is my summary of this experiment. At times, 2017 has been really challenging with all its events. But it created good memories and I learned a lot. Thanks to everyone who gave me great chances and the freedom to "do cool stuff". I very much appreciate it!

TL;DR

In 2017, I tried to visit as many events as possible, and made it to 34 talks, meetings and workshops where I was actively involved. Although that was challenging, I learned a lot and it was fun. In 2018, I will continue organizing and visiting events and share my knowledge.

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