I prepared this:
I was scheduled to appear on the lunchtime slot both days at JSConf this week. Unfortunately, I completely mis-represented myself on stage. We decided, I think fairly, that it wouldn't really be appropriate to take to the stage on the second day. I had written a script, though, which is a bit more representative of me, rather than some kind of lame "entertainer." Here it is, unedited:
William Faulkner wrote:
“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
Last November, at JSConf.EU 2010, I was lucky enough to see Chris present “Community.js”. Not only did his message resonate with shivers down my spine, but it was delivered in the presidential style that is close to my heart. With apologies to Chris, I’m falling back to that style today.
My story begins 2 years ago, in Berlin.
- THE BASIC IDEA
JSConf.EU was one of the most exciting conferences I’ve ever been to. It tasted different to other conferences. Round tables, free booze and … every where I looked, someone I admired.
Ryan is here. If you see him, you should say hello, because he’s really a very nice guy.
I met Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs at that conference. We’ve become friends, but before that, they were outspoken heroes of mine; I’d admired and used their work and the stuff they wrote for years.
Thomas is here. If you see him, you should say hello, because he’s really a very nice guy.
That was 2009. I want to go back another 2 years. Summer, 2007. Eamon Leonard and I were stuck for a place to work. We all wanted to do amazing things on the web, but Dublin had little or no place for the real grassroots to hang out. We co-opted an office, and took in blow-ins every so often. Last year we organised a conference called funconf, which I’d like to talk a little bit about today.
Eamon is also here, and if you see him, you should say hello, because he’s really a very nice guy.
One of those blow-ins was Jan Lehnardt. Often while travelling, I meet someone from Berlin, and I ask them “Do you know Jan”? Because I’m proud to know Jan. Usually they respond: “Everytime I say I’m from Berlin, people say: Do you know Jan?”
Jan is here. If you see him, you should say hello, because he’s really a very nice guy.
Skip back to the first JSConf. Twitter had been ablaze with praise for this amazing conference and the buzz was mighty so I bought a ticket early for the EU edition, because I wanted to support Jan, and indeed, I love Berlin. I think I even submitted a talk proposal, but back then, it wasn’t to be. I’ve wanted to be part of this since the start.
At the end of the conference, gee, what a conference, Malte Ubl and Holge Blank turned on the projector screen one last time, and who appeared on the screen, but Laura and Chris. I didn’t know either of them, and my initial reaction was “who the fuck is this?” … but there was a spark in those eyes, even across the shaky Skype connection. Chris Williams, organiser of JSConf.
Malte, Holge, Laura and Chris are all here. If you see any of them, you should say hello, because they’re really very nice people.
I’m a “Ruby Guy” : but what was magic about JSConf.eu, first time around, was that there were “Ruby guys” and “Python guys” and “PHP guys” … but, nobody cared. It was just full of folks passionate about the internet, passionate about code.
After the conference was done, and every single party had dried up, Eamon and I were only really beginning to get going. As he ushered the last few folks out, Jan whispered, in hallowed tones “The Github guys are coming”
The Github guys are coming. This was I think the end of Github’s first year, and they were growing and growing. I idolised these guys. They had been at a conference in Poland and were about to make an impromptu stop in Berlin. At midnight.
Berlin is one of the few cities in the world where you can truly drink all night. And so we drank. From the remaining beers at the after-after-after-after party, through several metal bars and ultimately, a bar that has not closed in 40 years, we drank through a night never to be forgotten.
All that night, as Amy and Tom had said, as others had said, Tom Preston Werner, PJ Hyett and Scott Chacon from Github said: “Give us a reason to come to Ireland”
My response, the whole time, was “we’re planning a little fun conference … a fun conf” … I will always remember Scott Chacon’s reply:
“I’d LOVE to come to a fun conf in Ireland!”
Over the holidays, we got together and brain stormed. We were just about to end our friendship abruptly when Eamon sparked off an idea that captured my imagination: Why don’t we put the entire conference on a moving bus while travelling through the Irish countryside.
And so funconf was born. 10 months, a volcano, an ash cloud and a lot of panic, planning and botched accounting later, 70 of the finest nerds in the world were travelling, in a bus, to discuss failure, success, the internet, more failure and beer.
Funconf was a massive success. We’re doing it again this year: we’ve booked a castle in the south of Ireland and we’re almost sold out.
But funconf was also a pretty big risk. For a first conference, choosing a moving venue might not have been the best choice. We had CTOs and CEOs and founders and yet more idols on the speaking and attendee list. Money flew in and flew out. At various points, things didn’t always seem to be going so well.
We stood to make fools of ourselves.
- FAILING SUCKS
But risk-taking is one of the key ingredients of JSConf and the spirit it represents. Listening to Chris speak at JSConf.EU last year, I realised something.
When Eamon and I cooked up funconf, the over-arching question was “how can we make an event that people will really, really love? How can we be different and put the attendees first? How can we bring people to Ireland and have them leave thinking: holy shit, that was amazing”
In a way, we wanted to be unique, original. We wanted to stand out of the crowd. We wanted to be individual.
But here’s the thing:
This is a team sport.
Community.js is every bit as much Community.net, Community.php, Community.py, Community.rb, Community.pl, Community.ss, Community.st, Community.f90.
The conference that you are encouraged to sit next to folks and talk, chat and drink. You don’t hear the phrase networking, because people do not network, machines do.
The conference that pays for your food and looks after you all day, all night, because you are the customer, not the product. Because eating together is what great teams do.
The conference that takes you in as one of its own, no matter who you are, looks you squarely in the eye and says: be a little crazy. Because let’s face it, we’re all a little bit crazy.
The conference that defies you to out-do yourself. To go home and challenge yourself. Because we always want to be inspired by someone new.
The conference that is fashioned not by focussing on profits, not on selling products and not on taking every opportunity to advertise this or that. Because profits, products and advertising are far inferior to trust, encouragement and love.
The conference that is born out of love for what we do, love for who we are and love for making a difference. Because love encourages people to drop their guard, and vulnerability brings out true creativity, inspiration and vision.
The conference that is your conference.
LAISSER NOUS CHANTER.
Si vous voulez bien écouter, # Listen carefully Je vais chanter un chant d’amour, # If you want to organise a conference Un chant d’amour banal à souhait # Just think of your attendees Pour deux amants qui s’adoraient. # Like lovers Si vous me laissez raconter # Allow me to tell
L’histoire d’amour belle à rêver, # the beautiful love story Alors, laissez-moi chanter… # now, let me sing
LAISSEZ MOI CHANTER.
Please keep coming, thanking, encouraging, talking. There can never be enough participation, praise, encouragement, communication, great ideas, support.
Please keep introducing yourself, saying hello. We are an introverted bunch, but each of us has a voice.
Please keep representing yourself, your beliefs, because that is allowed and we often hide out of fear, doubt or otherwise. I want to hear your voice.
Please keep pushing me to better myself. I will never grow tired of that.
Please keep focussing on the things that matter. I love the feeling I get when I know that you care.
Please keep sharing the love. Mary Rose Cook put it so well yesterday: fall in love with your code. Fall in love with your code, bring that love wherever you go.
And here’s the thing. By design, JSConf is your conference. funconf is your conference. But maybe you have an idea for something that is truly YOUR conference.
LAISSEZ NOUS DANCER
It could be a meet-up that brings a handful of folks together about a topic close to your heart. Bring them together and talk.
It could be a mini-conf that invites an international luminary to speak to your local community. Ask them to come and talk one-on-one to the folks that find it hard to put themselves in front of a crowd.
It could be a code retreat, a dojo or a hackday, where you create an environment that lets people represent their true feelings about whatever they want.
It could be a startup camp, where you pitch people against each other in the name of changing the world.
It could be a conference on a bus.
It could just be amazing.
Keep taking risks, keep singing, keep dancing. Keep putting as much love into everything you do, as I see you guys do every day.
My name is Paul. I’m here. If you see me, please say hello. Thank you very much.
Annex Aaron, who was with me on stage, shipped an amazing open-source altruism project called "Code for Other People." You should check it out.