Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
The song for this post is Ironic, by Alanis Morissette.
My proposal for a talk got selected, so I'll be speaking at Deconstruct this May! While I have some experience speaking to smaller audiences (and as an actor about a decade ago), this is my first time speaking at a conference. The title of my talk is "A Fresh Look At Failure."
Beyond announcing the talk, there are a few other narratives here that the blog is a perfect place to explore. This was a big, personal-feeling win.
Lara Hogan is an engineering leader who's published a lot of great work (I included her onsite engineering template to my Eng Interview resources links); one that I particularly love is her Donut Manifesto: celebrate your career achievements! When she gets a win, she celebrates with a donut; having my talk accepted motivated me to start a donut page of my own, since I'll accept any reason to put more donuts in me 😋
I hope to add a few retroactive donuts, but more than that, I'd like to earn some future ones!
Deconstruct, as a conf
Deconstruct has these properties that I'm comfortable calling Objectively Good:
Diverse speaker lineup. People of all backgrounds participate in our industry and have lots to share; conferences should aim to be part of the solution.
Speaker accommodations: most conferences place the burdens of travel and lodging on their speakers, and don't pay them for their time. This means a self-selecting, generally well-off set of people have an easier time speaking at conferences, and we lose perspectives as a result. The organizers took great care to provide as much as possible to counteract these forces.
On that note: hey! A Code of Conduct! Scholarships, captioning, a dedicated room for mothers, gender-neutral restrooms, and badge text you select yourself!
Properties of Deconstruct that make it a great conference, per Pablo preferences:
Single-track: no FOMO! A more curated experience!
Short(er) talks: Many ideas can be very well-expressed in 25 minutes, especially if the speaker puts in work to make their talk tight. You always want an audience to leave thinking "I wish I had more of that" instead of "that was great but could have been 10 minutes shorter."
No sponsorships. It is very possible for a conference to responsibly have sponsors, but a lot of conference antipatterns emerge from imperfect implementations (conferences optimized for recruiting, influence on talk or speaker selection, etc.).
Wide topic breadth: conferences around a single technology or topic are great! But I like that there's a conf where we can celebrate and look at computing more generally, at these levels of abstraction.
Every one of last year's talks that I've watched has been a high-signal, thought-provoking use of my time.
As in everything, there are tradeoffs to every choice, but I'm delighted to be part of a conference that makes these choices.
A professional in computing
While being fully cognizant that "speaking at conferences" is a pretty common way engineers showboat and gatekeep each other, I do sincerily embrace the joy and accomplishment I'm feeling about the idea that people may enjoy hearing me talk about computers. It's been a long journey from when I was crying in front of a SunLab computer feeling like an incapable failure, and it wasn't obvious that the path would take me here. I almost quit the industry in 2013. I've had to do a lot of work on myself to keep going, and there are still plenty of challenges.
It's lovely to feel like I'm doing something that more resembles thriving than merely surviving. My proposal was about a set of topics I've been thinking about with private enthusiasm for years, and getting the chance to share it with folks who may appreciate it the way I do is pretty thrilling.
I still have to deliver this talk, so I don't mean to shortchange the effort, or celebrate something I haven't completed yet. But! Few things really give me this kind or level of joy, so I want to allow it in too ☺️
Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄