Dev8D – Rules of Engagement (DRAFT!)

Posted on January 9, 2012


Global Rules for Dev8D:

  • Discussions rather than presentations.
  • Collaborative workshops rather than presentations.
  • Doing‘ is hugely preferred to ‘Looking’.
  • Specific points, URLs, topics and/or code preferred to powerpoint slides.
  • A session ends when you want it to end. †
  • If you feel a tech discussion is broadly applicable/important/interesting/funny to others, make sure to add it to the schedule to involve more people.
  • Don’t be a Dick” applies to all spaces and processes (see this.)
  • Related to above rule, everyone at Dev8D is allowed and expected to ask naive questions. Encouraged even. But if all you seek is a definition, Google (or Bing) is your first port of call. ††
  • Everyone should feel welcome. Obvious to most, but worth being explicit. No excuse for lechery, discrimination and sexism of any kind.
  • This event is Open by default. Expect a very strong bias towards Open Code/Licences/Hardware/Information/etc †††
Okay, you might have to move physically, but there is no obligation to stop. If you carry on the conversation for months after the event, so much the better.
†† (Unless no-one is able to access the net, in which case everyone’s apparent IQ will drop by 30 and we’ll be reduced to scrawling crude 140 character quips on paper, stapling them to polaroid pics and hurling them at each other. Instagram-lite y’all.)
††† If you regularly feel an urge to make people sign NDAs before you talk to them, then this is not the event for you. On the note of secrecy, note that this is a tech conference and most people’s phones will be capable of photoing, tweeting, blogging, videoing, audiobooing, tumblring, ustreaming, hipstagraming and whatever the new fancypants service is. It DOESN’T give them a right to record you but expect inadvertent recording will happen. Rule of ‘Dont be a Dick’ still applies but expect to appear in photos and videos, unless you ask to not appear in them.


Wake up

(Very important step. We start early and work til late. Caffeine intake is advised and sources of it will be available with 5 9’s of uptime. Maybe 2 9’s, but you get the point.)

First portion of the day is devoted to Core Skills.



The basic idea of these workshops is that the people in front have skills and experience that they are willing to share, and the people in the room are trying to learn. Powerpoint might be deployed here, but there will be code. Oh yes, there will be code.

Some tips and pointers:

  • You will need a laptop, or access to a friend’s for the duration of these. Remember, try to Do instead of just Looking and Watching. You’ll get far more out of it.
  • If you are going to a session titled “How to do make MAGITECH software do advanced magic!” or “Further programming in LOLWUT” or any other title that does not allude to it being an absolute beginners session, PLEASE try to install the relevant software on a laptop (or if you are swanky, a virtual machine) BEFORE the session. Like, way, way, way before the session. Like the week before the session. People are orders of magnitude happier to help you get past install problems when they are not busy running a session. In fact, try to get the software installed and running beforehand, even if the session is called something like “Installing Rails”. If you managed it, you don’t need to go. If you didn’t, they’ll help you.
  • There will always be unallocated space for other conversations and activities if you do not wish to attend an planned session. So don’t waste your time attending something because you feel ‘obligated’ (Some other conferences confine these conversations to corridors and breaktimes, we give over entire rooms to them. You’ll have to share space of course, but these rooms are BIG.)
  • If you want to have an in-depth discussion about python 2 v 3, low-level PyPy considerations or C-bindings, then you may be disappointed by a core skill session on “Python”. (However, those would be fascinating topics for a discussion in the ‘third’ portion of the day, so keep them in mind.)
  • If you are a master wizard at all the core topics on offer for that day and are feeling charitable, then please offer your help to those running things. More than not, they’ll say ‘That’s fine, but thanks anyway!’ At other times, that offer might be a real favour to the person running the session. (But remember, it’s their session – they probably spent many hours prepping for it so be nice and let them do their thing.)

“Lunch” for two hours.

Note the double quotes there. “Lunch.” You probably even read it out in a slightly differently internal voice too (possibly due to the use of an Engineer’s Capital Letter). “Lunch”, the two hour time period, is not necessarily anything to do with lunch, the meal. Sure, there’ll be awesome food on offer but this is not (necessarily) what this time of the day is about at Dev8D. Time to expand your social (technical) circle!

During “Lunch”, tables will have visible signs on them, on which the theme/topic of that table is written and people are encouraged to sit on tables that are relevant or interesting to them. It may be “python” or “java” for example and you can expect python ninjas and newbies, and java gurus or disciples will congregate on their respective tables. There may even be a table tagged with “Sharepoint”. That will likely turn into a prolonged group therapy session for all those tasked with keeping an instance “running”. Note again the use of the quotes.

You can expect code or technology ‘surgeries’ at this time too – bring your problems or even better, try to answer the problems other people bring.

If  part way through lunch, you find yourself with an interesting topic and an empty table to hand, then tag the table’s sign and see who joins you. (Just remember, ‘Field of Dreams’ is a fiction.)

If you are shy and don’t want to eat in front of people you don’t know, then my advice is to eat early on. This will give you the most time to mingle, chat and engage with people in your own time and space. There is no pressure, but after the intense first session, this is the perfect time to talk, collaborate or even get deeper into some topics. Or exchange lists of favourite Lolcat pictures with new friends. It’s entirely up to you.

Second portion of the day is devoted to Emerging Technology.

Up and coming technologies which might be a useful addition to anyone’s arsenal of tricks. You may not have heard of some of these, or even don’t understand why you might benefit from them, but hopefully, attending these sessions will answer all of those questions for you.

Guidelines are the same as for the first portion of the day, but with a heavier emphasis on get-stuff-installed-first-or-at-least-try.

Third portion of the day is devoted to Pushing Ideas Further.

Now, this is where it gets tricky to define up front. The sessions that happen here are chosen and will be run by the people at the conference (i.e. you) but we cannot say what these will be beforehand. They will be a reaction to the ideas, collaborations and discussions that are brought up by the first part of the day. See? That’s why they can’t be allocated beforehand.

You may think that without structure, there will be no content. Not so. In fact, I have found that these parts of the day contain the most rewarding, informative, imaginative, creative and exciting sessions to attend.

The sessions that run at this point will be those most important and more desired by the people at the conference.

These will be organised in a similar manner to an unconference, but people are free to put up sessions at any time during the day. This part will be explained at the event, so don’t worry. The breaktime before this session will be used to firm up and finalise the running order, so it’s important to be in the Basecamp at this time as it is possible that conflict resolution will have to go to a vote, via dotmocracy or something else pragmatic.

  • Say a session on image manipulation brings up the topic of copyright which leads to a discussion about data retention and archives. Say people want to have a round table discussion on this topic, because it turns out, lots of people there cared about it. This portion of the day is the perfect time to thrash it out. Book a slot, let everyone know about it and turn up.
  • People may want to have a longer session discussing Sharepoint. This is a perfect time for that.
  • More bird’s of a feather meetups? This is a perfect time for that.
  • Geodata collaborations? Again, perfect.
  • Geek game creators BoF – writing interactive fiction, board games, and MMOs? Fine and dandy. (Actually, this will probably be one of my sessions. Woo Inform7!)
  • Remember that in-depth python discussion idea you had earlier? Yeah. That. Here.
  • Nanode 101? Not so much. Why? because you’d be better off doing a longer session in the Project Room, or one of the other larger rooms.

The Project room.

Think of this as a creche or chill-out zone for grown adults. Bring your toys, gadgets, arduinos, nanodes, power meters with APIs, 3D printers, kinects, MIDI devices, scanners, RFID readers, barcode scanners, cameras, electronics, retro-computers, board games, robots, PDP-11’s, links to multiplayer minecraft servers for collaborative building… and so on.

In previous years, it has been a quiet haven of industry, lots of people doing all sorts of stuff with great opportunities to discover, overhear and otherwise eavesdrop on interesting conversations. Come in, take over a table and setup your own personal project. There will be 3D printer expertise at the event, so if you need a hand building your Mendel (or other) machine, bring it along! We might even be able to help you finish it!

Lightning and other Talks.

Like the project room, one of the spaces will be devoted to a single purpose: running a series of lightning (and other) talks, conversation starters if you will. Some are pre-planned by us, but they’ll be plenty of slots to fill up on the days of the event. Think of these as taster sessions or elevator pitches, giving you enough information to run with, but not bombarding you with things you can just google for anyhow.

Note, flexibility is built into this stream – if a block of longer talks are wanted, if a panel session would be useful or anything else is found necessary, then it can be arranged. But things won’t change unless people ask for it.

Final part of the day.

By this point, information overload probably has kicked in and kicked in hard. The bar can provide the setting for gentle conversation with friends and convivial drinks will help to sooth your aching mind back into working order.

If not and you are still cooking with gas, then well done, congratulations and so forth. Certain rooms will be available for nigh on 24 hours a day (or something sensible anyhow) and you can carry on freely working or chatting there until security begs to throw us out. You’ll get more details at the start of the event.

Final Advice:

  • Increase the number of people you know, not the amount of talks you sit and tweet your way through.
  • Bored where you are? Move.
  • Session you want not being run? Run it. Co-opt others to run it. Make it happen.
  • Your only obligation is to make the event work for you.
  • Are you putting enough effort into it to get what you need out?

Finally, I hope I’ll see you there!

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