RailsConf 07 Wrap Up

I'm back in Hawaii, having just returned from RailsConf07 in Portland. All in all it was a great time. CD Baby covered the conference fee and hotel room (at the Jupiter Hotel, very cool if you want a bar and night club just foot steps away) because I was a winner in the Rails Hackfest 2007 contest. So hat's off to CD Baby!

Some closing thoughts:

* As always, choose sessions based on the speaker, not the topic.
* The tutorial sessions, common with O'Reilly conferences, just don't seem to be worth it. They aren't enough like a true class to really learn anything, and four hours is quite a long time to listen to a presentation.
* The best session that I attended, was The Business of Rails. The session had a great line up, was not a technical session, had no slides, was full of great Q&A, and generally was full of interesting, candid, and honest information. (I think too many presenters rely on their slides too much.)
* The quality of the sessions was very mixed. I hope next time, the conference organizers choose sessions based on the speaker more than topic itself. A great speaker can easily make up for a less than relevant topic. But an inexperienced speaker will crash and burn even the more interesting of material.
* I found the keynotes all very interesting, for two reasons. First, the keynotes usually are the creme of the crop when it comes to speakers. Second, they weren't always directly related to Rails (such as Ze Frank and Avi Bryant), which made them so much more interesting.
* The value of conferences really rests with the networking. The technical sessions can be learned from blog posts or reading tutorials. The keynotes are usually viewable online at a later date. But meeting so many Rails contributors and users is difficult without the conference setting.
* I need to speak at one of these things in the future. Looks fun.
* I did speak for five minutes about the Dwarf Algorithm. Apparently, a scheduled speaker never showed up, so it turned into a lighting talk session. I was lucky enough to be granted Anthony's spot. Thanks Anthony!
* O'Reilly needs to beef up their conference wifi networking support. I'd rather have a slow, but steady, connection, than a spotty connection.
* Portland is pretty nice. Lots and lots of coffee shops with Free Wifi and lots of great beer.

In closing, I'd have to say that Ruby on Rails is pretty easy, and as such, so many technical sessions are unwarranted. What the community needs is not another session on some Rails plugin, but sessions on how to help move the Web forward in a productive, friendly, and profitable way. We as Rails developers can learn how to use the framework with books and blog posts. But we need more of is community discussion on moving from Web 2.0 to whatever is next, being good Web citizens, and otherwise writing excellent software. I'm afraid Ruby on Rails is so easy, that we're just going to have to start thinking about what we can *do* with the tool now.

And that's a sign of an amazing framework, if we're basically done thinking about the tool and instead are focusing on what we should be building with it.
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