Review on my first tech conference – MiXiT

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Back to blogging after a short leave

In my initial post on December 27th 2016, I pledged to write one post a week. Which is what I did without a single miss until April the 3rd, keeping my promise 15 weeks in a row. But those of you who follow carefully realized that I didn’t post anything since. By the way, I want to thank those of you who called me on this for caring enough to do this.

The reason behind these misses is that my (growing) family is in the process of buying our own home for the first time. And next to a full time job and a busy family life, this project has been taking all my free time since we made an offer that was accepted. We’ll be signing the deal at the end of this week, and now need to find the best deal for our mortgage. Each little win can mean thousands of euros in gain, so I’m working hard on it.

However, my wife rightfully pointed that life will always throw new urgent and important tasks at me. If I start making excuses, it will be much harder for me to keep blogging. So here I am, back to the task.

Now let’s talk about MiXiT

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts on the tech conference MiXiT 2017, which took place in Lyon Thurday and Friday of last week, and was the first tech conference I ever attended.

To start with, I was lucky to attend, since tickets were randomly attributed. More than a thousand people registered to participate, and only half of them got their seats, me included. Which prompted me to post the following tweet:

(Well, actually, there was a 50% chance, so it was a bit foolish to compare it to playing lottery… ^^).

Was there a risk of being left by myself?

Some people hesitate to attend such conferences because they plan to come alone and are not sure of knowing anyone there. This can be very intimidating. Some are able to easily mingle and interact with new people. But I know that many developers are not of the extrovert easygoing kind of type.

In my case, I had the chance that my company Esker was a sponsor of the event. This means that we had a booth to present our company and that I came with a dozen developers from my company. So there was no risk for me of hanging around by myself and feeling isolated in a sea of unknown faces.

Moreover, when on the introductory speech the organizers asked who attended the conference for the first time (which was in its 7th edition), almost half the room stood up, which confirmed the fact that this is a very welcoming conference:

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A perfect place to “network”

It also quickly dawned on me that there were quite a few faces I recognized in the room, and that I would have the joy of catching up with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Since the conference was taking place in Lyon and that I spent the last 8 years here for my studies and various internships and jobs, I realized that I knew many people active in Lyon’s tech scene.

I also had a great time networking with developers active in various meetups in Lyon. For the past year, I’ve been attending one tech meetup a month, from various groups such as LyonJS, MUGLyon (Microsoft User Group), HumanTalks, Software Craftsmanship and Hack Your Job / AlterCoding, as well as a Hackathon with Fhacktory (I’ll share more thoughts on the value of such meetups in a future article). By doing this, I realized that there was a core of software enthusiasts in Lyon who couldn’t keep their passion to themselves and partipated in all kinds of meetings to meet other developers in order to share best practices. After only a few such meetups, I started to see the same faces over and over again in various places. And no surprise, most of them were at MiXiT.

I really enjoyed having the time to catch up with most of them, around a cup of coffee and delicious crepes (which were on-demand and unlimited!), during mealtimes as we were sitting the grass under the sun, or even during the breakout and plenary sessions.

A great mix of speakers and talks

Now a few words about the schedule. The plenary sessions were not necessarily about tech and software. The topics ranged from using leadership lessons from orchestra conductors to universal income, local currencies or self-sustained villages. These were a good way to learn new insights on topics that concern all of us, but to which we oftentimes don’t take time as developers (too busy keeping up with the latest JavaScript Framework or Software Design good practice I guess). This also confirms the organizer’s social and ethical values.

This is how the setup looked like for plenary sessions:

I then had a hard time choosing between the breakout sessions, since many of them looked very interesting. Here are some of them that I attended (I decided to focus mostly on technical topics):

The setup for breakouts looked like this:

Even though the content from such talks is easily accessible on the web, it’s great to be forced to sit down and take the time to explore a new topic. An hour is usually enough to get a high-level overview of a technology, and know where to look for if we want/need to dig deeper.

To sum up

I encourage all developers to attend such conferences. It’s a great way to stop and think about our craft and practice, and also meet other developers with the same passion.

Since it was my first conference, I can’t really compare with other experiences, but I can still affirm that these were a great way for me to spend two days, and I intend to attend this same conference in the coming years, as well as explore new ones.

I also want to thank all the volunteers who made this possible. The tech community owes you a lot. Thanks for caring enough to give your free time to such worthy endeavours.

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