When I went to Monktoberfest last October, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Well, besides great beer. The main reason I went was because, quite simply, I thought RedMonk was awesome, and that would rub off on the conference. The fact that I was applying to work with them was a minor detail — just another consequence of my high opinion of their work.
I thought, “Could a one-day conference possibly be worth it?” Most of my experiences were with multi-day events like OSCON. At the time, I was on the borderline, mostly because talks I’ve attended have been a real mix in quality, from mind-altering to mind-numbing. But the speakers looked awesome (as they do for Monki Gras), so I decided to go for it. After getting in touch with Steve, I even got invited to give a talk on one of my favorite topics, how to deal with abusive jerks in online communities.
My favorite conferences are the small ones. They’ve got a real community and you get to know everybody instead of stumbling through a crowd of 10,000 strangers. Bigger confs are good for re-connecting with everybody you already know, but small ones are perfect for meeting new people. Somewhere between 50 and 150 people is just about right (Dunbar’s number, anyone? — check when Wikipedia isn’t doing the SOPA blackout). So Monktoberfest seemed like a good fit from a distance, but it remained to see how things worked in actuality.
Finally the day came and I arrived in Portland, Maine. Monktoberfest started with a beer reception the night before at an awesome bar called Novare Res, where I spent the night drinking top-notch beers. You just can’t find this kind of stuff on tap anywhere else, unless you’re thinking of the Lion’s Pride (where we spent the next night). Thursday morning started at a reasonable hour, for a pleasant change, and we had a full day of talks. The talks ranged from “best ever” to merely “outstanding,” so I didn’t even need coffee to keep me awake — just to fend off the caffeine headaches! Lunch featured more excellent beers with a few local selections, as well as lobster rolls since it was Maine, and more talks of an unbelievable caliber followed. At the end of the day, my biggest problem was that my brain was overstimulated.
Thank goodness we had plenty of amazing beer to come. We headed to the Lion’s Pride and had a scrumptious meal along with beer that was so good it was literally unreal. And that’s not even getting into the company; I didn’t talk to one boring or irrelevant person the whole time. Normally, I have to make the rounds just to keep myself entertained. In this case, I had to force myself to move on because I was having so much fun. In fact, the night was so good that one of us bribed the bus driver to stick around longer so we didn’t have to leave! That’s Monktoberfest in a nutshell.