tekX: A Conference and Me or Not A FurryCon

Update: Keith Casey (@caseysoftware) decided to invalidate my title with this picture…

Foreword: If you arrived here because you were looking for info about FurryCons or Furries in general, then you’re about to be sorely disappointed.

I almost decided not to write anything about my tekx experience so far – this being only the first official day of the conference and the second if one includes tutorial day – because I don’t know that I can recall a time when I’ve ever read anyone’s “BobCon Wrap Up: Day 1″ or “AwesomeCON 2K5!” posts or even really had an interest to.  I figure most people are like me in that respect, but maybe I’m wrong on that assumption.  But then I changed my mind, and now you’re reading the result of that change.  So prepare to take a journey through this atypical conference post.

Let me illustrate my point of view for a moment.  Let’s pretend you’re super interested in attending FurryCon 2011…it’s super awesome, and all your friends are going, but you’re not sure where it’s going to be, how much it costs, and whether or not dry cleaning service will be offered, so you hit up Google for some info.  You come across SquirrelMan44′s blog post from last year’s FurryCon on how great the “Choosing the right costume” talk was and said to yourself, “Well, I wasn’t there, so I probably don’t care that it was a good talk.  I’d rather hear that talk for myself or see the slides.”  What you probably want to know is more about the FurryCon experience as a whole.  A session by session break down isn’t really super useful.

But I digress.  I think my point is that you can usually summarize 99% of these session by session things with short little phrases like “great information that I should look into,” “knew his stuff, but it didn’t really apply to me,” “awesome talk and the presentation changed my life,” etc.  And further thinking about this led me to realize that this really only serves a few potential purposes: 1) It’s a reminder for the poster about how much they did or didn’t like something, 2) It’s a vague way to provide feedback on a talk for a particular speaker, and 3) It might fulfill some requirement for work that you document your experiences at the conference so you can prove you were there and cognizant. :-)

As a side note, if your work sends you to a FurryCon, then I’d be interested in knowing your line of work as I can’t conceive of such a position.

At this point I assume you’re wondering why I’m writing this at all if that’s my opinion on the typical session-by-session conference post?  Don’t bounce just yet, I’ve got an answer!  And since a personal blog is just that, personal, I’ll share the personal value I have gotten out of this conference thus far.

This is the first time I’ve been to tekX and only the fourth PHP conference I’ve attended, but I’ve found a lot of value in this conference beyond the various sessions I’ve been to so far – which have been excellent, don’t get me wrong.  I can’t really decide if it’s the nature of this particular conference or if it’s because I’m more comfortable since I’ve been to a few, but I’ve been a lot more social than I’m usually comfortable with.

Being a very introverted person, I have a really hard time just introducing myself to random people and being the person who approaches and sticks out their hand and says, “Hey, I’m [insert your first name here],” and then starts up a conversation.  But I’ve been able to overcome this social fear several times so far in the last few days and I believe that’s a big accomplishment for me.  I attribute much of my ability to overcome my fear to the people at this conference.

Everyone has been super friendly, very knowledgeable, and willing to share information about their experiences and various areas of expertise and I’ve actually gotten to know some of them.  I think it also helps when you’re confident with your level of knowledge and aren’t afraid that you might come off as a n00b and somehow offend them by even considering thinking of asking them a question.  But I haven’t encountered anyone like that here, and I think that says great things about the PHP community at large.

It’s also a good feeling when you introduce yourself to someone and they recognize you from Twitter or an IRC channel or something and you’ve instantly made a connection on a whole different level.  The IRL experience is often incredibly rare when the fundamental nature of your industry is based upon a bunch of intangible electronic information.  It’s like seeing a Leprechaun riding a rainbow striped unicorn handing out pots o’ gold on St. Patrick’s Day.  It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does…you gotta make sure you get in on that.

So my “tekX Day 1 Wrap Up” thought is this: My experience so far at tekX has instilled me with a lot more confidence in my level of expertise and in my ability to talk to people I don’t know than I had before I came here.  Thanks tekX!  I really appreciate it!  I look forward to meeting more people and becoming an even more social PHP’er in the next few days.

If you are a FurryCon fanatic and you didn’t understand that this wasn’t really relevant to your interests, maybe you can still find value.  You should try taking off your raccoon mask or bunny mask, or whatever your furry animal mask of choice may be and get to know some of your fellow Furry brethren.  You’ll be better for it and maybe just gain the confidence you need to strike up some great friendships and make some invaluable connections.

Lastly, if you TLDR’ed me, get an attention span!  And if you didn’t, thanks for reading!

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2 Responses to “tekX: A Conference and Me or Not A FurryCon”

  1. Geno Says:

    Very insightful, and I did have to LOL at the Leprechaun analogy. Hope the rest of the Con is as good as the first day.

  2. Rob... Says:

    I know what you mean about the twitter/irc connection thing and getting to meet people that I know “online” is one of the highlights of every conference I’ve ever been to.