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A brutally honest review of Qcon NYC 2015 straight from the horse’s mouth

Even been to a developer conference? Don’t worry if the answer is no. We sent a developer to Qcon 2015 and here’s what he thinks.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s the opposite of swag. There are no bright lights or glamour. Where is the 5-minute short film featuring movie stars and A-list celebrities? Wait, there are no mega rap stars on stage? No one is live streaming the keynote? I “needs me some” crushing media frenzy at my cons! 

No, it’s not that. But alas, if you are a software developer focused on bettering your craft and if by some flippant twist of fate you ended up at QCon New York  – you are in Valhalla. This is where the gods of modern age technology come to convene. These gladiators share the type of knowledge that only real-life, in-practice, been-through-tech-war and late-release-hell can give. This, my friend, is experience. As I write this, on the day of Apple’s annual September event, I feel it’s a great time to look back at a “tech event” of a different nature.

The Conference

Held in June, QCon was founded by InfoQ with the main purpose of spreading knowledge in the software developer community. London, San Fran, Tokyo, QCon is “designed for technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers who influence innovation in their teams.” This year Brooklyn held the honor of hosting the New York outpost and I was stoked about that adding a little hipster factor to my pocket protector.

The Speakers

The speakers were comprised of industry thought leaders, and knowledgeable veterans with various fields of specialty. Refreshingly, the list of speakers were much more diverse than the attendees (more on that later). Luminaries like Mary Poppendieck, a key driver in Lean Software Development before it was popular, gave a keynote speech on microservices.  I actually got to meet Josh Long a long time, major contributor to Pivotal’s Spring projects. I use Spring daily and I follow Josh’s social presence so it was a nice bonus for me to have meet a person who is instrumental in the technology I use day in and day out. I could go on for eons about the speakers at Q-Con New York. If you are truly interested here is a list of all speakers who rocked our worlds.

The Attendees

This. Is. Sparta. You will notice a very obvious lack of women here. I mean a very stark visualization that women are heavily underrepresented in tech. Although I have been pleased to see the #iLookLikeAnEngineer tweets lately, the attendees here were 99% men. It was disheartening to see the majority of women there were sales reps or worked for QConNY directly. Cultural diversity was higher, but as a man of color myself; I saw African Americans and Latinos few and far between. The growth of minorities and women in the tech industry is crawling upward at best, but its great to see some strides being made. Although the demographics were not totally PC, the attendee knowledge base was vast and deep. It ran the technology gambit. A majority of the attendees had many years of experience and held a teach lead/ managerial position.

The Experience and Takeaways

The experience in a word was thorough. Even the speakers acknowledge the certain caliber of attendees present at QConNY. You gain knowledge not only in the lectures. In random conversations during lunch you could be unknowingly talking to a CTO and learning secrets of mastering Continuous Integration. The environment had that good feeling of “we-are-all here-to-learn-from-each-other”, so egos and standoff-ishness were minimal. As in most things, you get out of it what you put in to it. If you are open to learn, ready to engage in thought provoking discussion and have a passion for your craft the rewards from QConNY will be many. I made a handful of awesome professional connections, learned a boatload of information and came away with a greater sense of belonging to the cutting edge tech community. Rap about that, Drake!

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Caliph is a Senior Software developer in NYC's blustering Silicon Alley. He is a M-Commerce afficionado and Mobile Evanglist who is in love with creating exciting new cross platform solutions. Connect with him on Twitter @caliphNYC.

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