Topic: Conferences: useful?

I'm pretty new to Ruby/Rails, though I've finished a couple personal Rails projects and I'm working on an app for the public. My general goal is to ease my way from my present job as a Java developer into full time Ruby work either as an independent guy or in a company.

I've been wondering whether I should make more of an effort go to conferences. I feel sort of guilty for not going them. It's just that I can't figure out the value. There is already more information available in books, websites, online video, podcasts, and forums than I could possibly assimilate.

It seems like going to a conference is like trying to drink from a firehose and then someone dumps a cup of water on your head. And then a dog comes up and bites you. (The cup of water represents the conference, the dog represents the airlines, I've already explained the firehose.)

I don't know. I guess this is an issue where I could use some informed insight. Ranting subjective opinions are fine too.

Thanks,

E

Re: Conferences: useful?

I rarely get much out of conferences. I find I can learn more on my own. While I did learn a lot more at RailsConf then I do at most conferences, it wasn't enough to justify the time and cost. The real reason I went to RailsConf is to get a feel for the community and the future of Rails. That's something you can't get over the web.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Conferences: useful?

Yeah, technology conferences are kind of a weird concept in some ways. Most people can't really learn and understand a technology without actually using it. You can learn pretty well sitting at a desk in a quiet environment with a computer in front of you and a book next to you, writing code and experimenting.

Sitting in a room for two hours while some guy lectures is pointless I think. The information just kind of piles up and dissipates.

Sometimes they announce exciting news at conferences, but it's always announced nearly simultaneously on the Web anyway if it's remotely significant.

On the other hand the community aspect makes sense. I suspect most of the real value is outside of the conference sessions.

Eeby

Re: Conferences: useful?

I agree with the comments on conferences. I enjoy going to conferences and get a lot out of them, but it's more for getting to know people, learning about new projects, and maybe picking up a few tips, but not learning a new subject in any depth.

Seminars are an entirely different beast. I learned a great deal at the Pragmatic Programmers Rails Studio (introductory and advanced). Being able to alternate between lecture and lab, when you get to immediately use some of things you've just learned, makes the experience much richer.

I'm putting together a new seminar for web designers and developers who want to learn Rails; we'll be presenting it for the first time in San Francisco in February. See Ruby on Rails QuickStart Seminar for more info.

Michael Slater
www.BuildingWebApps.com

Re: Conferences: useful?

eeby wrote:

Yeah, technology conferences are kind of a weird concept in some ways. Most people can't really learn and understand a technology without actually using it. You can learn pretty well sitting at a desk in a quiet environment with a computer in front of you and a book next to you, writing code and experimenting.

Sitting in a room for two hours while some guy lectures is pointless I think. The information just kind of piles up and dissipates.

Sometimes they announce exciting news at conferences, but it's always announced nearly simultaneously on the Web anyway if it's remotely significant.

On the other hand the community aspect makes sense. I suspect most of the real value is outside of the conference sessions.

Eeby

Agrre with that! smile)))))))))))