I’ve just posted a schedule for the conference. Please note that this can change as I sign up speakers and other things become more firm. The purpose of releasing the schedule now is to give you an idea of what the experience will be like.
I’ve been to many conferences that are multi-track. I know a lot of people who love multi-track because they can always find something they’re interested in. They feel like it gives them more value for their money. I understand this position in theory, but this has never been my experience in practice. In my experience, multi-track conferences make me feel regret at almost every turn. If I’m in a talk that isn’t quite giving me that thrill of discovery that I want, I regret not being in one of the other talks. When I talk to other attendees, they often say “I saw this awesome talk” and I more often than not saw a different one. And then, worse than that, at the after-hours social events, I can’t participate in many of the conversations because they’re about stuff I didn’t see. To ask them to explain what I missed would derail them.
So when I decided to run a conference, I knew it would be single-track. Everyone will share an experience. That puts a lot more burden on me to make that experience great, but that’s a challenge I’m up for.
This one made me shake with fear with my finger hovering over the publish button. Why? Well, if I look at the number of talks on the schedule, it sums up to a grand total of ten. Ten? It seems low, even to me. Just as an example, Clojure/conj 2016 had eight per day in just one track. I keep looking over it, trying to figure out how they fit twice as many topics in. I do not want to appear cheap, like you’re not getting your money’s worth. Ultimately, I’m sure someone is going to count and compare.
Now, the number of talks is still not written in stone. It’s still early. But allow me to explain my thinking here, because 10 vs. 16 is a big difference and deserves some explaining.
At the best conferences I’ve been to, there were really maybe 3 or 4 talks that really changed me. The others were either very specific topics that didn’t really apply to my situation (e.g., using transducers to connect Kafka to Spark over HTTP with a Scala backend) or, let’s face it, they were poorly executed. If I could eliminate those two types of talks entirely, and only have those life-changing ones, the value of the conference would be enormous.
We, as an industry, focus too much on the new and shiny. I try to take a longer perspective in the PurelyFunctional.tv Newsletter, and Clojure SYNC is my attempt at doing that in conference format. I can reduce the number of poorly executed talks by inviting people myself. So that’s what you should expect: big perspective talks from great presenters. Fewer talks in general, but more talks that will change you.
Part of the challenge of running a conference is convincing people they will get enough value from the time and money they’re investing. Many people are paying out of pocket. And many are getting their company to pay. So I need to offer something to both of those “buyers”.
I’m organizing the conference around three big themes.
1. Craft of Clojure
This theme is all about the skills that we use to write software in Clojure. That’s everything from understanding the problem domain, to architecting a solution, to actually writing out the code. These talks will make you a better programmer.
2. Business of Clojure
Clojure is being used at more and more companies. And more and more people want to work in Clojure. This theme is about exploring the challenges that come up on both sides of that equation. How to hire Clojure programmers, how to find a Clojure job, how to train, how to scale a Clojure team, and what processes are best for working together. These talks will make yours a better company.
3. Context of Clojure
I love the Clojure community for its love of the context in which we find ourselves. The Context theme is all about getting some perspective on ourselves, culture, and civilization. We explore questions like who we are (as humans), the role technology plays in our lives, and how software is changing human discourse. These talks will make you a better-rounded person.
I hope this makes things clear whether Clojure SYNC is right for you.
Like I said, this stuff is still evolving. If you’ve got ideas for speakers or feedback from the “buyers” (yourself or your company) about how to make this more valuable, please let me know at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or leave a comment below.