Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fun Talks at CodeCon

Went to my first CodeCon today. (I'll be talking tomorrow about the what and why of my parallel browser project.)

CodeCon felt like emerging from a dark tunnel.

First, I like their standards. A depressingly recurring theme in the research I see on a typical day is the lack of true motivation and understanding. Successful languages and frameworks are typically (originally) paired with successful products because you can't solve everybody's problems if you haven't solved anybody's. CodeCon makes a point to celebrate those in the guts of the matter; academia penalizes them (and encourages us to write too much trendy and incremental crap). At CodeCon, if you can't give a cool (for many notions of cool) demo, your talk is awkward.

Second, and somewhat related, there is an emphasis on fostering subcultures that do something tangible. This mixture of TED and Burning Man ideals highlights how technology might interact with our lives. The do-it-yourself biohacking talk and Tahoe capability URLs talk were great because of that (and, adding to my interest in Tahoe, I had spec'd out a project last year for breaking the data wall that, for the server part, had a lot of the same highlevel design!). The vetting for talks is good: many were inspiring (... or would have been if I hadn't previously been inspired by them).

Third, the speakers are the active developers of the projects, and everyone in the audience is probably the same. As a friend remarked, it's always amusing to see a professor present a student's work. In terms of hallway conversations, this mix of people is a revealing lot.

CodeCon was not what I expected at all, more for the better than the worse. Now that I have a better feel for what CodeCon is, I probably should add more motivation and some notion of a demo to my talk :)
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