Charting Stacks

Monktoberfest, Conferences and Regrets

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Several months ago I sat down with my wife and considered the pros and cons of joining RedMonk, was the life of analyst really what we wanted (I had a suspicion, that has been quickly confirmed, that you can not do this job properly with the support and understanding of your partner), what would the day to work be like and so forth. Attending the conferences RedMonk organize was definitely on this list, but it was not at the top of the list.

What was at the top of the list, however, is something I highlighted in my very first post at RedMonk – the community of people that make RedMonk what it is. This is a theme, which comes through in our events, and after my first ever Monktoberfest I have to say I am truly blown away by one of the nicest, most engaged and interesting crowds I have ever encountered at a tech conference.


I got an early flight from London, and arrived in real Portland in time to take the cruise which had been organized around Portland harbour. Now as those of you who followed Monktoberfest on twitter may have noticed Portland had some biblical weather on Wednesday – and Stephen wasn’t even travelling.

Luckily the rain had cleared by the time the cruise was starting, and first thing that got me was just how beautiful the setting is. I have always had a soft spot for New England in the autumn and was once again reminded why that soft spot exists.

The talks were both what I expected and yet nothing like what I expected. From the opening moment of Justin Sheehy’s talk on “Impostor Syndrome”, Luis Villa on some of the challenges faced at Wikipedia to Samantha Ready talking about developer evangelism the range, depth and effort put into each of the talks was incredible. Selecting a favorite is difficult, I am almost loathe too – however, as I have recently mentioned, I really enjoyed Rafe Colburn’s talk on “Blameless Postmortems” at Etsy, a subject close to my own heart, and which many companies aspire too but few can actually accomplish. Keep an eye out for when the videos get posted.

The hallway, and pub, discussions were great with lots of interesting conversations, sidebars and interesting anecdotes. The discussions and enduring friendships are what make these conferences different from later events.

Now as a conference that has craft beer as a core theme, in a state that is renowned for its craft beer, I was always expecting to taste something different. but the Allagash Farm to Face was just absolutely delicious, and far beyond my wildest expectations (its been an amazing beer month for me, not just with the Allagash Farm to Face, but I was recently treated to a Westvleteren by a friend). And there was chowder – do I need to say more?

If you have ever been involved in crafting an event that is something beyond an “industry standard” conference, you know that it is both a lot of fun, and a huge amount of work. Attention to detail matters, and the small things attendees may not notice are the pieces, which will drive you mad on the day. I cannot speak highly enough of the work Stephen, Juliane, Rachel and Kate did to put together a truly exceptional conference, with incredible speakers, superb food and fantastic craft beers curated by Ryan and Leigh.

So I’ve been home, and I’m back on the road again (it is that season), but I am already looking forward to next year’s event. If you want to experience a conference that is very different between now and then, our IoT focused conference, ThingMonk, is running in London on December 3rd and 4th, while MonkiGras is on January 28th and 29th 2016. Tickets are now on sale, and for those that are very keen we have a created a joint early bird ticket for both events.

As for a closing thought and that regret? My only regret is that it took joining RedMonk to get me to attend my first Monktoberfest. I should have joined in quite some time ago.

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