I have written a few of these “developer diary” blogs when I go to conferences or meetups, but this one is a bit different as I was on the other side as I was on the organising team do the event: DDD Scotland.
DDD are free developer events run by the community for the community and the Scottish Developers team organises the Scotland instance of DDD. Did I know when I joined the Scottish Developers team a few months ago just now much would be involved? No. Am I glad I done it? Yes!
I can’t really give an unbiased review of the event as I was part of the organising team but here’s a wee recap from my side of things. Bright (well rainy) and early (oh so early) on a Saturday morning > 250 developers arrived at UWS and fueled up on coffee ahead of the day.
We had 21 talks, 2 panels, 2 lightning talks and a workshop style session. I was keen to give a mix of session styles so the community room was a bit of an experiment. Feedback says it was a good thing and we have even been asked for more workshops next time, so that’s a positive!
After an hour or so of running around, checking rooms, welcoming speakers and a minor panic about HDMI cables it was time to get started. We kicked off the day in the UWS chancellors hall, talking on stage in front of 100s of people without any prep… my favourite *sarcastic emoji*. Then it was time to start our awesome schedule of speakers talks.
To be honest, most of the day is a blur! But the main thing I enjoyed was getting to catch up with old friends and meet new people, that’s what these events are all about.
I was also on a panel: “Your career as a software developer”. I find it strange being asked to do these things now, somedays I feel like I have just graduated, not a senior dev with 7 years experience! We spoke about career progression, diversity and advice for our junior selves. I hope people attending found it useful, I certainly enjoyed learning from the other panellists.
Then, just like that, I found myself on that stage again. Winging it again for the prize giving and good byes!
Things I learned:
Diversity IS hard! - I am always the first to ask “how hard is it to get a balanced, diverse speakers list?” when attending a conference. For DDD this was a challenge, partly because it needs speakers to submit their proposals for the public vote. So only those who submit a talk can be voted for, we can’t invite selected speakers to speak like other conferences.
We did get a few people commenting social media about the lack of diversity in the list of proposed sessions, which broke my heart that female developers might be put off from attending or submitting a talk. I really was trying my best to get the word out and encourage other developers I know to submit talks. I have been talking to some other conference organisers and have a few ideas for next year.
People want to help - We needed help from other people to make this conference happen: volunteers, sponsors, panellists, etc. Initially I was scared when asking people like they would think I was being a chancer, but I realised people generally wanted to help and be a part of it if they could, which is lovely. As developers we often get a reputation as grumpy and not sociable but from what I experienced we are a lovely, community driven bunch. Mon the devs!
It takes a lot of organising - Myself, Christos and Andrew all have busy lives and full time jobs but made sure to have a weekly call and complete our tasks throughout the week. How we found the time, I don’t know but I didn’t realise just how much work it takes to organise a conference til now, particularly since we were newbies.
Initial feedback has been positive and I hopefully we can make it even bigger and better next time :) If you do have anything to feedback, please let us know.