The value of conferences

I’m a huge fan of Sean Rose. He is a forward-thinking mind in the world of product/platforms and is currently helping Slack on their mission to reinvent team messaging. One of his tweets made me think quite a bit about the value of conferences.

I had recently been lucky enough to attend Swift Summit, a conference for Swift developers in San Francisco. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made as a young iOS developer. I wanted to offer a perspective on conferences that Sean’s tweet misses.

Humanizing Your Heroes

A quote I used to swear by is “keep working until your heroes become your peers.” I’ve have since modified my mindset towards this idea. Your heroes are really no different than you are. They may have a years of experience under their belts, but life is isn’t about Y-intercepts. It’s all about your slope. Conferences help remind me of this.

At Swift Summit, I met so many people I look up to including Chris Eidhohf, Felix Krause, Sam Soffes, and Grant Paul. A few of us even got sushi together! It was like a Swift developer’s dream come true!

Meeting Chris, Felix, Sam, and Grant in person humanized my mental notion of them. Instead of only interacting with them on Twitter, I got to hear about their unfiltered day-to-day lives, fun hobbies, and work ethic. Ryan Hoover recently relayed this idea in his post about the value of Product Hunt LIVE Chats.

“Sometimes we’re given a chance to connect with our seemingly unreachable heroes thanks to the Internet, and recognize that they’re human, too.”

  • Ryan Hoover

Fostering Community

Today most digital communities coalesce around forums, subreddits, private Slack rooms, and ad hoc Twitter circles. No matter how intimate these places are, nothing beats nerding out with a venue full of like-minded people. Every so often at Swift Summit, I’d look around and soak in the fact that I’m amongst a portion of the world’s Swift community and that I belong! This helps remedy the occasional loneliness that creeps up with being buried in Xcode all day.

These are just a few of the reasons I love attending conferences in person. While events like Swift Summit do a great job making all of the videos accessible to those who cannot attend, I wish there was a way to lower cost as a barrier (potentially with attendee sponsorships). More frequent, local meet ups are also a way to tackle this :)