LevelUp Con

Last week, I attended the first ever LevelUp Con (which WordPress.com sponsored) in Saratoga Springs, New York. I was really impressed with the event, which was organized by the crew at Mad Glory to help draw attention to upstate New York’s tech scene, and to expand people’s horizons and help them cross-train a bit.

Apart from the wonderful people, beautiful setting (upstate NY is ridiculously gorgeous at this time of year) and smoothly-operated event logistics, there were a few really good talks that made the 2-day event click for me.

  • Kevin Hoffman spoke about co-design, and about how to get people involved in the process of design, without falling into design-by-committee. I really liked his approach to meetings (if you’ve got to have them, at least make them work for you). His (beautifully illustrated) slides are available for download.
  • Andres Suarez (currently SoundCloud, previously Tumblr) talked about isomorphic JavaScript applications (server and client-side rendered, with the same code). It was the first time I’ve seen real, working examples of the technology, and it’s super-relevant to some things we’re doing at Automattic (which also use Node and React).
  • Justin Searls spoke passionately about open source project maintenance, dependency trees and trolls. It sounds crazy, but it came together, made sense, and was spot on. Hopefully he’ll get the slides up somewhere because it was pretty awesome.
  • My colleagues, Simon Ouderkirk and Daryl Houston spoke about Developing Hospitality and about taking the idea of Service and Hospitality and applying it both internally and externally as a lens to look at your support structures. It was a really interesting twist and their on-stage “performance” was a lot of fun.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and to all the other folks who spoke. The single-track, 2-day, planned schedule was a really interesting approach, and I think it worked nicely. Hopefully there’ll be another LUC, and I’ll get to go to the next one as well!

South by Southwest (SxSW) Virgin

sxsw2009Tomorrow morning I leave to go to South by Southwest, one of the biggest festival/conferences in the tech scene (and the music and film scenes). I’ve never been before, so I’m pretty excited. There’s one main reason that I’m going, but that’s just my official excuse — I’ve wanted to go to SxSW since I first heard of it, about 3 years ago. Last year I even promised myself that I’d go this year, but then I thought I was going to be in Chile, so didn’t get tickets. Then things changed, this year rolled around, and a matter of days before it starts, I found myself with adequate motivation and reason to go, so I bought tickets.

My main reason for going?

Ultimate Showdown of Content Management System Destiny

The reason this is specifically important for me is that I was on the WordPress team that’s competing/presenting on this panel. We put a heap of work into building a website/system based on supplied specifications/designs and will go head to head with Joomla and Drupal during that panel.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also really excited to attend a bunch of other panels, and of course the parties, but this one panel is my main reason. Oh, and I get to stay and hang out with my good buddy Ray Hernandez as well, so it’s all good. I’ll try to post a summary here when I get back, but in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter for live updates on what’s happening.