The first ever .concat() web development conference was a blast! First of all, the organizers have been extremely thoughtful with making sure that everybody could feel safe and welcome. And then they showed that this doesn't even need to cost a lot of money. Also see the many great .concat() 2015 impressions that people shared on Twitter :)
Although I loved every talk that I attended (they were awesome without exception), I'd like to highlight the ones that I found to be the most significant ones.
Best technical talk: The Better Parts (by Douglas Crockford)
Most mind-blowing talk: Hacking the Human Genome (by Eric Schoffstall)
Imagine somebody sends you a pull requests on your DNA in order to increase your muscular strength. Since Eric has published his DNA data on GitHub, people are actually doing that. Unfortunately (or, depending on your point of view, luckily), there is no safe and cost-effective way (yet) for applying patches to the DNA of a living human…
Most motivational talk: It Takes a Village to Make a Programmer (by Michele Guido)
Michele's story about her journey to becoming a professional web developer in less than a year is motivating; not only in terms of what she had been able to achieve, but also in terms of hearing about all the help and support she has received during that journey. To her overwhelming surprise, she received lots of support even from people she didn't know. But of course, she wouldn't have been able to achieve that much without determination and hard work in addition. Michele gave some practical advice about how each individual can make a difference in their community. As an example, her talk in itself was an act of giving back: she encouraged people to offer resources and help, and on the other hand, to seek and make use of those, if needed. Michele described her wonderful experience by quoting Tal Ben-Shahar: “There is no more selfish act than a generous one.”
Best introduction to a new topic: Say Hello To Offline First (by Ola Gasidlo)
Offline first: “the new cool kid on the block”. If you don't agree that this topic is important as well as cool, you should definitely watch Ola's talk. Even if you already understand its importance, or if you consider yourself familiar with that topic already: you're still going to learn something from that talk!
Most important talk: A Talk About Nothing (by Lena Reinhard)
Lena's talk is about raising awareness of the many fatal things that are constantly happening within tech communities, but still have been ignored by most of their privileged members. One privilege, out of many which people (especially privileged people) have tended to be unaware of so far, is the ability to ignore: “Being in tech and not caring about tech culture is a luxury, only affordable to those with enough privilege to ignore it & too little empathy to care.” Another example for a privilege that has widely not been seen as such is the ability to be visible without having to fear for being harassed. By ignoring and not being empathetic, we are not only tolerating, but normalizing toxic behavior in our communities; for instance, marginalization of and harassment against unprivileged people. So that's why privilege comes with the responsibility to:
- be aware
- shut up
- educate ourselves
- use privilege for good
- learn from failing
Lena provides many other examples that show how tech culture is currently (still) broken. For instance, open source communities are still discriminating people without coding skills (again, often by ignoring), although people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds other than coding could contribute work that is not only useful, but needed.