This post has been overdue (like so many of my posts on my mental backlog) for a few months now, but I'm finally getting around to putting down some thoughts and feelpinions on helping organise a conference. This year, I was asked if I wanted to help organise the DDD Perth conference. I said 'heck yes', and so I was enlisted. I'd never been a part of anything like this before, so I was looking forward to stepping completely out of my comfort zone. This post isn't a retrospective, but more a collection of my jumbled thoughts articulated in written form.
The first main take away from my experiences was:
You meet some damn awesome people.
Whether its fellow organisers, attendees, speakers or hotel staff, you come across some really amazing people. They are extremely focused, great at their jobs and are usually willing to go above and beyond in helping people out. I'd been following some of these people on Twitter for quite some time, so I already had a great deal of respect for them which was solidified on meeting them in person. There are so, so many awesome people in the developer community, and I honestly felt honoured to have been able to listen to them speak, and interact with some of them on a personal level, directly as a result of helping organise DDD Perth.
The next thing that jumps out at me is:
Conferences are damn hard work.
I was honestly shocked at the amount of thought, organisation and planning that goes into creating the experience I'd taken for granted as an attendee the previous year (the inaugural DDD Perth conference was just last year and I bloody loved every second). When things are going smoothly, you get the impression that everyone just YOLOs everything, but it coudln't be further from the truth. Overall, things went fairly well on the day and the feedback we had was pretty positive.
What I find fascinating about this, is that there were a few times I wanted to give up and withdraw my help. I'd just started a new job and was still adjusting to that, on top of having some interesting clients to deal with who took a significant part of my energy during the day, I honestly came very close to throwing in the towel. Thankfully, my wife saved the day and convinced me to stay on and I'm so bloody glad she did. On the day of conference, looking around at the amount of people we'd all gathered in one place to talk tech for the entire day (we had 3 tracks of speakers!), it hit me the significance of what we'd accomplished, and it was extremely satisfying, which gets me pretty fired up for next year! :)
I think in conclusion, the first point of this post justifies the second. Conferences are some pretty hairy things to put together, but the satisfaction you get from contributing to the community in this fashion, and all the cool people you get to meet, more than justifies the energy put in. I hope you enjoyed my rambling, and if you have any thoughts or feelpinions of your own, feel free to hit up me on Twitter. :)