I spent today in the Assembly Rooms at Bath. There was a definite air of eccentricity in having a software conference in such a stately, Georgian venue, but if you are going to hold a conference in Bath, why not?
I was at Bath Ruby because I had been asked to present a talk on Trans*Code. It was only going to be a 5-minute lightning talk. I expected most of the day to be given over to tech stuff. I was very wrong. My how software conferences have changed.
It didn’t seem that way at the start. There were around 500 people at the conference. The vast majority were young, white and male. I think the women marginally outnumbered the people of color (though of course some were in both categories), but if you removed the sponsor representatives, who were probably not tech staff, the numbers might have tipped the other way. I may well have been the oldest person there.
Then the conference started, and the very first piece of admin mentioned in the welcome session was the Code of Conduct, which mentions Gender Identity. That set the tone for the rest of the day. Now sure there were technical talks, but there were other things too. There was a talk about how to get involved in open source projects. There was a talk about getting fired — how employees can cope with it, how employers can do it better. And there was a talk about unconscious gender bias. A longer version of this talk.
Which was awesome. (And there’s lots more good stuff from Janet Crawford here.)
I don’t suppose that all tech conferences are like this these days. However, the Python community and the Ruby community seem to be very progressive. It is very heartwarming.
My talk seemed to go down well. People listened respectfully, and applauded when I was done. A few people came and thanked me afterwards. Job well done, I think.
And the tech stuff? I got to see the best tech presentation I have ever seen in my life (except possibly the one where Kevin Roche had us moving individual atoms with his software). Sonic Pi is a seriously cool thing. And it is bundled free with every Raspberry Pi computer.