a personal blog for Jamey Alea

Conf Report: PolyConf

August 21, 2017 Jamey Alea 0 Comments

Of all the conferences I was scheduled for this spring, I think Polyconf was the one I was most excited about! First of all, this year it was held in beautiful Paris, France which is one of my favorite cities in the world and the farthest I’ve ever traveled to speak, so of course I was excited about all of that! Also, Polyconf’s method of choosing speakers isn’t something I had encountered before and I really liked it. Basically, they posted all of the proposals they received and let the community vote on which talks they’d most like to see! A number of the top voted ones were invited to attend the conference as speakers. This is how I got my invitation, as the second highest voted talk (!!!) and I was super honored to have been chosen by the community. Sometimes I also get nervous about giving soft talks at conferences because I worry that people won’t be as interested in them as technical talks, so it was really reassuring to see that there were a lot of people already interested in my topic!

Plus, the conference took place at La Geode, which was an incredible venue! I don’t think I will ever speak at a place this neat ever again as long as I live.

I like the concept of Polyconf – it’s a polyglot conference with the slogan “Never see boundaries, but only horizons.” It was an honor to speak alongside so many talented programmers and speakers. And my talk went over really well, even though the stage made it pretty intimidating! I’ve never felt so small in comparison to my slides.

I was on the fence on if I should do my Star Wars lightning talk, but then someone pointed out to me that I’d basically be giving it inside of the death star and I was completely sold.

Of course, one of the best thing about speaking at conferences is getting to see the other amazing talks by the other talented speakers. Eryn O’Neil’s talk about how to be effective as a tech lead was an illuminating look at the human side of software engineering, which I think is super important and under-discussed. My absolute favorite talk, hands down, was Anjana Vakil’s talk about programming paradigms. It was an incredibly insightful look at the differences and similarities of the languages we use. In fact I don’t even know how to describe it exactly, other than to encourage everyone to do yourselves a favor and watch it.

Polyconf was my first conference outside of North America and as an American, I was a pretty small minority. Being able to meet people from all over Europe was really great and the discussions we had about code and the industry and politics were really fascinating because everyone brought such different perspectives to the table. I felt really privileged to be part of those discussions!

Plus, Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. After a busy weekend networking at the conference and fretting about my talks, spending a couple days exploring Paris completely on my own was very cathartic.

Polyconf was my last conference of my spring season and it was truly a grand finale for me. All of my thanks to Zaiste and the other organizers for planning it, inviting me and helping me to feel welcome. I’m looking forward to recharging for the next few months and doing some new talks in the fall!

#conf report#conferences#events#france#paris

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