The best soft-talks of NDC Oslo 2016

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend another NDC Oslo event, and again it was a great experience. This is my second NDC and once again I was very impressed by the level of the speakers, the awesome people I met and the constant stream of great food and coffee. We developers must be some of the most over-privileged and spoiled bunch out there, lets enjoy it while we can before the robots learn how to write apps!

Call me a big softy, but oftentimes the talks that I get the most out of at these conferences are the soft talks or meta-discussions, its really nice to take the time to think about things from a completely different perspective, and learn what thoughts people have about workplaces, team-dynamics or just the human experience. Nerds are smart, and so they have really good insights on these things as well. So here I give you my top-three soft talks from NDC. They usually release videos of the talks in the following weeks so check out the links.

Becoming a Social Developer by Jeremy Clark

As programming involves countless hours of solving problems in front of a computer screen, it tends to attract people in the introverted spectrum of human personality types. Jeremy Clark’s message was to get our heads out of our computers and start talking to our fellow developers. He reminded us that there really is a strong limit on how much we can learn in a particular area of technology and that others are going super deep in things we know nothing about. Opening our mouths at conferences can be a source of great knowledge and friendship. This was great for me to hear because I normally just walk around with my colleagues, severely limiting the amount of new people we talk to.

This directly lead me to one of my best experiences of the conference which was talking to David Ostrovsky who’s talk on graph databases I’d missed. He ended up giving me an hour-long demo of the new graph capabilities of Elasticsearch. I learned a ton and got to talking with a great guy which I never would have otherwise. Cheers to Jeremy for that one :)

Don’t Be Dilbert: Survival Tactics for Uninspiring Workplaces by Kylie Hunt

This was a real soft soft-talk, made me feel all fuzzy and happy inside! I am a big believer in happiness being one of the most important factors for intelligence and productivity, and we tend to forget how expensive it is to have dissatisfied, afraid, lonely or bullied people at our workplaces. We also tend not to value things like naps, short workouts or compliments in the workplace even though they seriously accelerate your brainpower when you need it the most. And thats just putting it cynically. Most people spend about three times as much time with their workmates and computers as they do with their kids or spouses. It should be one of our highest priorities to make it an enjoyable experience for ourselves and the people around us. Kylie did a great job of reminding us of this, check it out and share it with your co-workers that need it :)

Sunlight & Air: 10 Lessons for Growing Junior Developers, Erika Carlson

I’ve had the honour and the privilege to work with and train a junior developer recently so this talk was fascinating to me. What Erika and her team has done in terms of training people with little to no programming experience is quite remarkable. They basically realised that, being based in Detroit, there simply weren’t any developers around so they had to train their own. If you are ever in the position of training juniors, this talk is priceless, from how to find the right people to how to deal with team issues and preparing the seniors, this talk has fantastic insight. Kudos also to Erika who was one of the most entertaining speakers at the conference in my opinion.

So those are my thoughts on the soft-talks of NDC 2016! I may or may not do one on my favourite technical talks, but if I do I can tell you one of them will definitely be on the Microsoft Hololens. That thing blows my mind. So I made it through day two of blogposts, lets see if there is one more tomorrow!

Cheers, Adam

If you care at all why I’ve decided to write daily blog-posts, check this out.