James Edward Gray II gave this year’s keynote. As expected it was a great presentation. (I have seen two other presentations of his in the past and they were both excellent.) James has a unique way of taking his own personal experiences and turning them into general life lessons. Two lessons presented in his keynote were: what is a keynote, and why do women put cabbage leaves on their breasts?
While James had nearly everyone’s attention talking about breasts and showing images of cabbage, we get an introduction (or re-introduction) to the scientific method and critical thinking. “Question, think critically and search for evidence,” James explained. He ends his presentation asking that we bring the science back into comptuer science.
Be Skeptical, Not Cynical
A skeptic doesn’t believe anything simply because someone declairs something true, or it’s popular, etc. However, unlike a cynic (who will always disbelieve something), skeptics form beliefs based on evidence. Cynics are those chronic complainers, you know the people who say “woes me the world is against me.” They rashly judge, are quick to complain and never offer solutions of their own.
Chad Fowler in the closing address set forth cyniscim as lazy, cowardly and weak. He spoke about the idea that everyone has customers (people you serve) and that we should all strive to providing the best customer experiences.
My personal war against cynicism can be found in my long-running Gmail signature:
“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” –Lily Tomlin
Summary and Trends
This LSRC I enjoyed more the an the one last year. I think the topics were more relavent and fresh. There were also some really good presenters, many of them local Austinites. I noticed a few trends…
I think this is the first LSRC where I’ve actually noticed women. Now if you personally know me I probably just made your chuckle. What I mean by this though is that traditionally in the IT and programming space women are scarcely seen. Female programmers especially are a very rare breed. So it was really refreshing to see more women this year.
Women and minorities, in general, are poorly represented in our industry I think. It’s good to see this trend slowly changing, but it still has a long way to go.
At any Ruby related conference you’re pretty much going to see Macbook Pros. If you bring a Windows PC you’re going to be the brunt of jokes at the table, just be ready. This year I saw a few more PC laptops than in the past, but they weren’t running Windows. Instead they were running Ubuntu Linux. While I didn’t actually walk up to people and ask, they were running them on metal not VMs. (I decided this because many were using compbiz animation features which typically are not possible inside a VM.) So this is a trend to pay attnetion to, maybe.
I agree in a perfect world we should just learn CoffeeScript and be happy. The world isn’t perfect.
Lastly, Ruby is an amazing language. Going to a Ruby conference you’d expect to come away with this, right? The one thing that particuarlly impressed upon me was the pervasiveness of Ruby in the Cloud. Rackspace, CloudFoundry, Engine Yard and Heroku are very Ruby centric. Marc Benioff tweeted “Ruby is the language of the cloud.” I’m starting to understand why he said that.