Monday, December 01, 2008

Momentous Oredev

As others have already said, Oredev was a really good conference – if not an outright great conference.

I’m hesitant to gush poetic about why Oredev might just have been a great conference, or why it was likely my favorite conference, because I’m not exactly sure I know which specific quality of Oredev might have made it great.

So, I can’t prove that it was great by pointing to one great thing that would make my point, and maybe this is why Oredev was great. It wasn’t over-stated. It wasn’t blown out of proportion. It didn’t try to be bigger than it was. It was just right.

The conference had a number of tracks, like any other conference. There was a Java track, a .NET track, a languages track, a leadership track, a testing track, an agile track, another .NET track, a Domain-Driven Design track. But the people didn’t seem to be Java people, .NET people, agile people, etc. The people at Oredev just seemed to be interested in a whole lots of ideas no matter what their core competency or primary focus, and this, combined with the spirit of the event, setup a very collegial and very social time and space.

The theme of the conference was “The Software Development Renaissance”. It was pointed out during the conference panel that periods of renaissance are characterized by interdisciplinary pursuits, and personified by people who are predisposed to the intellectual curiosity that leads them to interdisciplinary works and investigation. This definition of renaissance likely applies to Oredev itself, and whether it was the intention or not, Oredev was quite possibly a great example of a renaissance conference.

It was also pointed out that the movement is likely a good example of an emerging software renaissance movement. The track at Oredev was very well received and was standing room only in each session.

If you’re an’er in Europe, Oredev is a welcoming gathering place for you, and I have no qualms with wholeheartedly suggesting that you gather there next year – and not just because there’s an track, but because the entire conference is brain candy for kinds of people. You might not have thought of Sweden as a bastion of support, but I think that the average'er will be pleasantly surprised with the experience.

I met so many great people and had so many awesome, buoyant conversations at Oredev. The conference to me was a collection of great moments that came together because a good group of passionate organizers with community and business support carved out the time and space for good people to interact, and stepped out of the way and let the quality of the speakers, delegates, and support staff and their natural willingness to explore and exchange become the social foundation for not only the conference’s content, but also for the lasting relationships that started at Oredev.

Oredev in one word for me is Momentous. It would say it was momentish, but that’s not quite the right word to capture the momentness nature of the gathering. Oredev succeeded in creating a conference that is much larger than an average open space gathering, and scaling it without loosing the intimate sociability of an open space.

At Oredev, it felt like people had a vested interest in each other; that ideas and knowledge were paramount; and that debate and exploration were sacred and not to be diluted with mindless pandering. In fact, I think the radical diversity of the participant body simply didn’t allow for a presumption of anything other than a conference of ideas and exchanges without the obstructive social morays that impede the dialog at the average mono-cultural vendor conference. This societal quality above all else makes the kind of conference that I want to be a part of, and that I’m very happy to have been a part of.

Many thanks to Michael Tiberg, Magnus Mårtensson, Linus Roslund, and Björn Granvik for infusing the event with their personalities and their spirit, and for being such awesome hosts, not to mention great new friends.

It was great hanging out with old friends and new friends in a great city that itself is very much a representation of renaissance values.