March 17th, 2014 · · development, wetware, conferences

I am currently at NSConference 6. For those who haven't heard of NSConference, it's a "community conference for OSX and iOS developers". It's a 3-day conference about developing for OSX/iOS by and for developers. If you're an iOS or Mac developer based in Europe, it's a great way to meet the community and learn new stuff.

The problem with these conferences is inspiration. The talks are usually pretty good, and get you fired up to start doing something. Not necessarily with the knowlegde you learn at the conference, but even with what you've been working on at home (or work). The great thing about NSConference (and in general about the smaller conferences) is that they're mixed technical and non-technical. Not everything is about "how to code this-and-that", but it's also how what other people have learned, passing on their experience onto the attendees. Sometimes the talks are mainly about your own "wetware" (thanks @bmf!), how you deal with building apps and interaction with your customers, clients or colleagues.

So what happens (at least in my case): you get inspired. The problem is that there's usually no time to get inspired. First, it starts at the conference itself: when a conf day ends all I want to do is go to my hotel room and start working on Project Whatever (which can be a new one with something you learned today, or conitnue work on an existing project). Unfortunately, there's also the social aspect of a conference (and by unfortunately, I also mean awesome). Talking to people is good, don't get me wrong. You can learn as much from talking to your peers as from attending the conference itself. But it interferes with the drive I get from the conference itself. So, you usually don't get any coding done on the conference itself.

And then the conference is over and you go home. The drive is still there, at least the first days. But having a family of 6 to come home to doesn't leave much room to first go off for a few days to a conference abroad, and then to come home and disappear behind your computer because you're "inspired". And there's also regular work (we can't all be James Thomson, living off our own apps, unfortunately), so even if the inspiration lasts for a few days and you manage to get a few nights of inspired coding in, it wears off after a while and you're back to square one.

So yeah. Talk about a first world problem, eh? I do wonder how other developers handle this? My situation might be pretty specific though. Not everybody has 4 children demanding attention, and I'm fortunate to have a satisfying but demanding job which tends to take an evening of work here and there too. But I'm curious: am I the only one struggling with this?

Note UIKonf has a hackaton as their third day of conference (so there's two regular days, and 1 day of hacking). My first reaction was: I'm not going to pay for that?. But being here at another conference, it feels like it makes more sense now. Two days of conference will get you fired up, and that hackaton day might prove very fruitful, I think.