"... am I the only one that thinks there are... too many conferences? Sometimes it seems as if almost any new sufficiently large JS framework now has a conference. Slap the word "conf" or "con" on the end of whatever random noun you chose for your framework and boom, start sending out ticket invites and request for papers.
Conferences were originally for leading experts in a particular field to share new research and present papers that were going to be published, and give people the chance to ask questions and find out more from the authors.
Conferences now feel more like a show and tell with blogpost level quality writing. Most non-academic conference talks I see could have been summarised easily in a blogpost and a few screenshots or at most a slide deck.
I recognise the networking aspect of them can be useful, but I couldn't justify spending the ticket price of some of them, to go to a conf based around one very narrow tech (unless it was a narrow but widely used and lucrative tech, and I was looking for work in that area currently)." (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21874372)
Not only that, but the calibre of questions asked is likely to be higher, resulting in better answers too. If the answer could be given as a comment reply on an equally banal blogpost level talk, then was the ticket price really worth the opportunity to ask the question face-to-face? I'd pay money to ask the leading expert at x university in machine learning a question. The leading "expert" in ClownJS? Not so much.
I mean - this shouldn't come as a surprise. Any sufficiently large community is going to self-organize and attempt to be self-sustaining (there's a named law about this self-perpetuation, I forget the name). I suspect your mental model of conferences infers too much decorum: there's a whole bunch of conferences for computer games, juggulos, furries, comics, "over-unity" energy, and anime. Why can't JS frameworks have thier own fandom?
Pournelle's iron law of bureaucracy:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
It was the first real conference I've attended (luckily not at my expense) and will likely be my last.
* Networking with other attendees
* Getting to meet face to face with AWS employees
That said, I attend lots of events. But it's mostly for meeting with people and absorbing the general zeitgeist. Breakouts/booths are just the window dressing.
One way I've seen this done is with hackathons, but they're uncommon enough to be notable whenever an employer supports them.
Is it really? It doesn't comment on the article or its content in any way. (The same was true the first time you posted it, when it was also top comment and received plenty of discussion.)
Let me tell you this story:
October 2019 we did something similar, but took it to the extreme: We created 8 conventions on 8 days in 8 major cities in Germany to learn more about private investors and our customers. Time-wise, almost no rational person would've invested so much time.
We talked to almost 1000 real and some prospective customers. The learnings were amazing. In the following 4 weeks, we managed to improve product and reduce churn by 3X (~24% to 6%), which is generally unheard of. It was one of the best ways ever to build up user empathy and understanding real, underlying needs as well as a ton of UX problems.
You should really add the ability to exchange email for a downloadable PDF of the guide. And that bottom bar that slides in "20+ new CFPs every week", it won't close no matter how many times I click on x. Browser: Chrome.
I interviewed over 30 speakers myself, plus read through several dozen articles to compile this guide.
I will eventually offer a PDF download option, but I wanted to start off by putting it out there for free to the public. After I've made some revisions and improvements and it's a bit more stable I'll go the ebook route too.
People sure don't speak at conferences so they can spend more time at airports and on planes.
Many do also enjoy it for altruistic reasons listed. But relatively few people are going to take on tasks that aren't also beneficial to themselves personally.
Anecdotally, I acted in a play when I was in college. Almost every person in it was studying acting, and the level of self-absorption was overpowering at times.
All that said, speakers and topics are only a small portion of what I find valuable about attending a conference anyway. Most of the opportunity for learning and advancement comes in meeting other people you wouldn't have been able to connect with otherwise.
Whether or not it comes naturally or it's a persona they've developed for professional reasons, most public speakers like the energy of the crowd or other audience. (Personally, I'm much more comfortable live than on video--which is a somewhat different skill.)
I take the optimist's view of it though: speaking is a good way to advance your career, but with so many new people getting into software development it's also a great way to teach others. Even if you can watch the video online, conferences allow you to actually meet and ask questions of others who know things you don't.
It's hard to replicate these interactions online.
I've been pretty critical with some other comments on this thread but I actually agree that naked self-promotion is not a good reason to give a conference talk.
I bet the number of people doing bad jobs based only on their lover of what they are doing is also dwarfed by the number of people doing bad jobs for money, but it would be nice to see stats on these things.
Still, since I only do jobs for money almost everyone I've ever interacted with that was doing a job good or bad was also doing it for money. I suppose the parent comment might do pretty good dependent on how well they are actually motivated by money and their skills.
If it's something you don't want to do, don't. There are plenty of people who get a lot of value out of the interactions and maybe part of the "boss's arbitrary stipulation" is that there is value to the company through promoting technologies/etc. at events.
I get that a lot of people are cynical about conferences. And I sometimes am one of them. But a lot of people and organizations find them worthwhile.
I’m not angry and don’t know if GP is, but it’s certainly worth pointing out and discouraging, if possible.
For me, it’s not that the talks aren’t valuable to some people. That’s neat. And the talk certainly helps the talker and their boss. I think it’s that the marginal value is low.
Certainly individuals will disagree about conference content. I know I've gotten evaluations that were simultaneously "too in-depth" and "too high-level" for the same talk!
Conference organizers are usually trying to choose talks that appeal to a range of people--both in depth and in topic area. Furthermore, they're usually not familiar with every speaker so some sessions that sound interesting--but aren't or are just poorly delivered--slip in.
And conference organizers just screw up too. Maybe they give undue weight to choosing something a bit random from someone they know. At the same time, many conferences these days are trying to encourage first-time speakers so it's not always the usual suspects. And, at some level, that means taking the good with the bad.
In my early days, I had also this urge but it's wrong. The whole post is wrong. Ask yourself WHY you want to speak at tech conferences. What's the aim of your speech? Most of the times and most people don't have an answer.
You want to have nice Google SERPs on your name?
To increase your personal market value?
You think one speech is enough?
Not at all. You need so much more. A topic, more than your vim config or some Github repo which got five stars. You need achievements, first. You need a damn story, a sharp profile. Then go out and hold 10 talks/year, shotgun Google's video search with your talks. I promise you, once you have a good story, public speaking is easy, it feels like talking. But if you don't have anything to tell you sound like the odd & boring AWS sales guy who wants to sell some new overpriced AWS service and paid for the speaking slot.
And be aware that public talks don't necessarily improve your market value. One so-so talk on Youtube about your vim config at some third-class conference is worse than nothing. Besides, most tech conference are third-class created by some greedy local meetup tycoon rebranding his useless meetups. The best is that the meetup tycoon gets free content, YOU on stage, on Youtube, for a crappy conference he sold tickets for 500 bucks. He doesn't care if the entire world makes fun of your speech about your vim config.
I remember one guy who did music with hard-coded JS decades ago, not impressive, maybe a bit interesting. This guy was on several speaking gigs with always the same topic, his stupid JS music. After the third time I saw him, I started to hate him, I swore to never hire this person. Remember, speaking can backfire if you don't have a topic.
I've another guy: Jared, he wrote amazing Formik, a great lib. His talks though are so-so, promoting his company (I think it's just a shell for him freelancing) too much and yeah not on par with his repo. When seeing his talks on a shabby meetup, my first thought was, better fix your repo's issues instead of doing this self-promotion. Again: it backfired and didn't improve his market value. Rather the opposite, before I thought Formik, Jared, the king. Once I saw the speaches, OMG, Jared got jarring.
I rather prefer a cozy Youtube video on a living room couch on Svelte like from the Youtuber Harry Wolff (highly recommended!!! => ). Good speakers like Harry are entertainers, they understand to be authentic without even trying and it's hard to deconstruct what they do right.
So, public speaking skills are overrated. It's enough to be able to moderate a meeting/standup for 10-50 people. To do proper speaking, you need to do it frequently, you need to understand entertainment, you need to get deeply into story telling, how to plot narratives, sometimes you need script writers, media trainers and you MUST be in shape, no need to look like James Bond but getting on keto few weeks before sounds like a plan.
If you still think you should be a public speaker, test if you have the basics for being a good entertainer. Do internal presentation at your company, bigger ones where you invite multiple departments, do Youtube videos, screen recordings. Test how people react on your voice, on your appearance, your jokes, If you see positive signals or slight growth, continue.
Otherwise just don't. Public speaking is a profession and imagine a public speaker who wants to pair-program with you in C++. I mean why not? If you can hold a speech he should be able to write some kernel code.
What exactly are you aiming to achieve with this comment? Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.
> In my early days, I had also this urge but it's wrong. The whole post is wrong. Ask yourself WHY you want to speak at tech conferences. What's the aim of your speech? Most of the times and most people don't have an answer.
Who are you to say it's wrong? Even if people are doing it for the wrong reasons, the fact that they are doing it means that this post is relevant to them. To call the post "wrong" is so arrogant and adds nothing to the contribution. All it does is give you a useless delusion of grandeur that makes you think you know better than this author, or those that find value in the post.
> - To increase your personal market value? You think one speech is enough? Not at all. You need so much more. A topic, more than your vim config or some Github repo which got five stars. You need achievements, first. You need a damn story, a sharp profile. Then go out and hold 10 talks/year, shotgun Google's video search with your talks.
This makes no sense. If you're still advocating for eventually going to give talks, why did you start off by calling this post wrong when it gives advice to people that want to speak?
> And be aware that public talks don't necessarily improve your market value. One so-so talk on Youtube about your vim config at some third-class conference is worse than nothing. Besides, most tech conference are third-class.
This sounds like a personal problem for you. And no, one so-so talk on Youtube about your vim config at some third-class conference isn't necessarily worse than nothing
> Public speaking skills are overrated. It's enough to be able to moderate a meeting/standup for 10-50 people. To do proper speaking, you need to do it frequently, you need to understand entertainment, sometimes you need script writers, media trainers, etc.
If you're moderating a meeting with 10-50 people, good public speaking skills will go a long way into making the meeting worthwhile for the attendees.
I have no relation to the author of this post, but it's jarring seeing comments like that throw away nuance and kindness, and let out arrogant statements all under the guise of intellectualism.
In the case of speaking specifically, if you don't start off giving maybe so-so talks at a Meetup, you're probably never going to get better.
ADDED: To your example. So if your first C++ code doesn't hit it out of the park, you should just give up?
Holding good speeches is hard work and takes time. Writing good code, sketching solid abstractions is hard work and takes time as well. Focus on one. And if your code/repo/whatever got 100K stars on Github, then of course hold a speech, it will be easy because everybody want just to see THAT guy. It's complex and this notion, everybody should hold speeches yes, but a guide to speaking at tech conferences? IDK.
If people like public speaking and want to center the career around it, great. But then they need to commit, to do it frequently and of course they start small. But it doesn't make sense to do a recorded talk at a conference if you don't have any experience and do it only once. Like the speaker who writes a 10-liner C++, for what?? Who shall hire that C++ coding speaker? Oh wait, he could moderate a tech conference, because he wrote 10 lines C++... or maybe not.
And I know tons of people who do public speaking where it isn't a career path or even (really) their primary day job--a number of whom are quite good about it.
Of course, if you have nothing to talk about you shouldn't give a talk. But I wouldn't discourage anyone who has something they want to share--even if it's unrelated to their day-to-day work or it's potentially trivial. It's frankly the job of the conference organizers to decide whether it's potentially relevant and interesting to attendees.
In one enormous post, you have managed to tip-toe the line of civility with passive aggression, but also outright hostility "so arrogant," that it comes into question whether or not the GP's comment was directed at your specific demogrpahic: people that do things because they feel they want to, and not because they have thought it through.
Perhaps you should ask yourself the same question: "What exactly are you aiming to achieve with this comment?"
From an onlooker's perspective, it comes off as needlessly aggressive, but without clear motive. One could say the only purpose of your comment was to express that aggression, and not to spur interesting or novel dicussion.
In that likely case, you are posting in bad faith, and as you said "sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all."
 I've been around message boards since usenet. This behavior isn't new, and neither is it appreciated.
And FYI, I've not spoken at any conference and I have no interest in speaking at one, so I don't think the comment was directed at my demographic, I just found it to be distasteful.
Emotions are what make us human. Complex expressions of neural impulses that manifest as many different feelings which move us to action. However, like any other impulse, the understanding of and their proper utilization, always brings greater utility to one's life.
We can all agree that unbridled emotional expression -- that is the actions those emotions move us to do -- can become harmful by their unchecked nature. We can also all agree that emotions have a purpose, and to repress them is not the best of decisions.
Then perhaps there is a useful middle ground. Call it, "emotion, but in moderation." That by stepping back and analyzing our emotions, what caused them to appear, and why we feel the way we feel, we can in-turn make better, more productice decisions.
What flowers from this post, is of no concern of mine, but I felt moved to plant these seeds.
I hereby make a standing offer to work with any professional public speaker to pair with them to write kernel code. Like public speaking, it's a learnable (and teachable) skill, and if you're interested in it, nobody should stand in your way and say it's not worth your time or that it's pointless.
(You, meanwhile, should put a name to your comment so that we can swear never to hire you. You're a 0.1x engineer: your presence on a team will demotivate other people in the organization.)
Seriously are you ok and fulfilled in your life?
I know some "normies" get on our nerves Like "Jared" but the thing is:
Jared is nice, has some friends and more people want to be around him so his chances of happiness are greater.
I really wish you expose your work on Hackernews you seem a very good and intelligent (did not mean wise).
Please show your skills and work it may improve your market rate or even maybe people can contact you and exchange information.
I am looking forward to your contributions.
This is an absolutely destructive viewpoint in particular for all those brilliant people who do interesting stuff but never think they are ready to share their story just because they are no Jimmy Fallon. Being bad at things in the beginning is part of every journey.
I'm sure I'd cringe to see early talks I gave at events. (To say nothing of more recent ones that just didn't come together as I intended. Or, heck, even IMO good ones that aren't as good as awesome speakers give.)
Maybe that's the reason you are not making 500k/yr because those videos are still out.
It was a breath of fresh air to read your experiences, and the way you decided to put into writing what your intuition had surmised from said experiences. I read forums religiously to keep my own worldview fresh and to stave off the natural human inclination to bring myself into a homeostatic perception bubble.
Uncannily, one of the most common things I've found is the exact type of person you've described: one that doesn't think about what value their post will bring to others, but only to post for posting's sake. You and your post are an exceptional delight, and I thank you for sharing.
The world -- and by extension the internet, a microcosm of said world -- is overrun with wishy-washy expression that only appears to express a lot, but when stripped of all it's fat, manages to express nothing at all (f.e speaking a lot, but saying little).
As an addendum, my apologies for coming off in the same manner as the subject of your ire. Appearances are important, after all.
Guys you can do it too, really. It's not that hard.
I have an evergreen recommendation that anyone who wants to understand want introvert, extravert, and ambivert really mean should read Quiet by Susan Cains.