RedMonk recently wrapped up Monki Gras, the seventh annual run of our London-based conference. This year’s theme was Sustaining Craft, “with unique talks on sustainability and maintainability of communities, projects, products, skills and services.”
I was sad to miss the event (though happy to have a team that supported me staying home with my little munchkin instead of traveling internationally right after I came back from maternity leave – thanks, everyone!) I look forward to watching all the talk recordings as soon as they’re released, but in the mean time I have been living vicariously through our attendees’ write ups of the event.
Our gratitude goes out to everyone who attended the event, and especially to those who made the effort to share their thoughts about the experience!
Monki Gras 2018 Notes: Thursday Morning / Thursday Afternoon / Friday Morning, Dave Letorey
Dave’s notes do a fantastic job covering the key points of all talks. His posts are thorough, well-formatted outlines with pictures of speakers and slides to illustrate his points. These posts do a great job summarizing the conference and the speakers’ content; these posts are a great place to start if you want a quick overview of Monki Gras.
MonkiGras 2018, Matthew Gilliard
Matthew gives a another great overview of the talks of the conference. Matthew wrote blurbs about each presentation, includes links to the presenters, highlights of his favorite quotes, and includes some of his own thoughts and takeaways. It’s a fairly comprehensive write up of the event and another excellent place to review the conference in its totality.
Lars posted the slide deck from his presentation about the lessons he learned with Adobe Experience Manager. This is the slide that particularly caught my attention, as I love a good technical debt metaphor.
I’m looking forward to hearing the entirety of the talk!
It’s about the curry, Ricardo Méndez
“Craft is about consistently avoiding shortcuts – even shortcuts others might consider practical – because you expect to get a better result.”
Ricardo uses his experiences at restaurants in Japan as an allegory for craft, from the places with wax models of their food all the way to infamous Jiro (whom Ricardo deems to be an example of survivorship bias.) “Everyone dreams of doing their best work at the equivalent of a 3-Michelin-star restaurant. But that’s an end state, not a process.”
From there, Ricardo shares plenty of advice for sustaining craft in any environment. This is another talk that I can’t wait to see.
Other Great Write Ups
A Tale of Two Conferences, Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin discusses her experiences at two recent tech conferences, and highlights the importance of talk curation, a thoughtful diversity program, and the hallway track for a successful conference.
My favorite takeaway was, “when diversity and inclusion are a priority, your events will be better for everyone, not just those who are part of your diversity programme.”
Caitlin points out how Monki Gras had “guiding narrative thread through a refreshingly diverse array of topics,” and I would like to pause here to thank my colleague James for putting together such a fantastic lineup of speakers. I know how much time and effort goes into putting together the agenda, and I would like to add my voice to those expressing appreciation for your efforts.
Tracy’s post focused on the diversity of the conference, and specifically the representation of women on stage. She shares some highlights from her favorite conference talks, and closes with some commentary that I found particularly insightful.
“And what I discovered while listening to the talks, not tuned into gender, was that I could focus on something else: the overarching theme was a call for sustainability in tech & other domains … Once tech figures out how to deal with gender imbalances, we can truly all move together onto new horizons. Building sustainable worlds and resilient societies.”
Occupational Burnout: We all have it. Now what do we do?, Jennifer Riggins
Jennifer’s post focuses on the lessons learned from Jessica Rose‘s talk about self-sustainability and managing burnout. While much of the talk focused on recognizing signs of burnout, learning how to care for ourselves, and manage/recover from burnout, I also enjoyed Jennifer’s closing thoughts on the importance of helping take care of each other.
“Finally, if you hear a teammate say “I’m so burned out,” don’t just brush it off as a common turn of phrase. It’s a common turn of phrase because it’s a really, really, really common problem. It’s your job as a manager and as a human being to look for ways to help people step back off the edge of burnout, but also it’s your job to make sure you ask for feedback on your help because what works for you may not work for them.”
Is passion the secret ingredient to a sustainable community?, Jennifer Riggins
Jennifer’s second post highlighted Dormain Drewitz‘s talk about what we can learn from craft outside our industry, like letterpress or rebuilding old cars. Dormain shares how craft is best sustained at the intersection of passion, community, and commercial.
Jennifer then carries the lessons into her own thoughts on ‘modern business guilds’ and her lessons on building community. Some of her takeaways include having multiple organizers so success doesn’t hinge on a single person and making sure the group is engaging with each other (listening to conference talks is great, but it’s the group discussion that makes a community.)
Monki Gras 2018: Sustaining Craft, Rodney Goldd
Rodney was one of the conference’s original diversity scholars and I always enjoy reading his write ups. This year he focused on three talks: Lars Trieloff, Dormain Drewitz, and Aneel Lakhani. I especially enjoyed Rodney’s takeaways from Aneel’s talk.
Aneel’s talk focused how sustainability is impacted by concentrations of social, political, and economic power and how these are reflected in our supply chains.
“So, what does it mean to sustain? When people talk about sustainability and craft, they’re typically talking about things at the beginning of the supply chain. From our position at the opposite end of this supply chain, we are essentially powerless. All what we can do is spend less, or spend differently.”
The alternative to this powerlessness is disintermediation, or removing the middlemen so that we can enforce our social contract directly with source suppliers. “Empowerment and enfranchisement is the new movement.”
Monkigras 2018, Arianna Aondio
Arianna shared kind words about Monki Gras and thinks you should all be ready for 2019. (I couldn’t agree more!)
“As usual the Monk crew did a STUNNING job, this conference is probably one of my favourite and if I could I would buy a ticket for Monkigras 2019 RIGHT NOW. (James you should consider selling early early birds tickets).
Speakers and topic discuss were simply mind blowing and the relaxed atmosphere among the attendees is exactly what I look for in these kind of events. No need to say all of this is framed by good food and beer.”
Updated to add:
When it comes to technology we love, is it ever really obsolete?, Mary Branscombe
Mary uses her lessons from Monki Gras as a jumping off point to discuss obsolescence in tech, using Sonos’ decision to sunset support for their CR100 controllers as an example. Mary referenced Dormain’s conclusion, “the acid test is if it’s actually obsolete, and it still has a community and it still has commercial value, and it’s still going, that’s the actual measure of sustainability.” She also refers to Ricardo’s talk about avoiding shortcuts and building culture that values sustainable technology.
I especially enjoyed how she incorporated a quote from Lars’ talk: “His advice for deprecating features or products was ‘treat it like any other hostage situation — no sudden movements!'”
Monki Gras 7, Kara de la Marck
Kara does a wonderful job weaving high-level takeaways from Monki Gras talks together into a cohesive narrative about the conference. I thought she gave a particularly apt description of the goal of the conference overall: “Part of what differentiates this developer conference is the emphasis placed on what tech, as a craft, can learn from other craft disciplines.”
I especially enjoyed that Kara took the time to tease apart some overarching themes between the talks. Some common threads she found were the importance of standards to longevity, maintaining the maintainers, how access and power dynamics impact knowledge.
I hope I found everyone’s posts, but please let me know if I missed any and I will add them!