8000 geeks.

42 devrooms.

2 days in Brussels.

0 celebrity motivational speakers.

0 cost to get in.

A popular talk in the main FOSDEM theatre.

It’s the most relaxed tech conference I’ve ever been to. Part of this is because it happens on a weekend, in your own time. But another part is because it’s not really a conference at all, but a giant open source meet-up. Dig a little deeper and it’s actually the location for about 40 global open source communities to get together. These are the devrooms where tracks are organised by their own open source communities. A meet-up of meet-ups.

I went to Strata London last week to see the state of data engineering and analytics in the UK. Of course it is just a tech conference and so while you’re there it’s is a kind of artificial reality. But I was ready for this, I knew that tech conferences can be disappointing. Here’s what I learned.

Deep Learning is the latest marketing

Some older folks still call it “Artificial Intelligence”. For others it is “Machine Learning” or “ML”. Now it seems like the marketing machines have turned it into “Deep Learning”.

There was a significant focus in the keynotes on ML and data science. Much…

by Peter Campbell and Rory Hanratty

Does your organisation have technology governance? Does it allow you to be a growing, dynamic organisation? Or is it focused on compliance not delivery? We want to share how we think about technology governance within Digital Services at Kainos.

Most of us will be familiar with “governance”. Organisations have corporate governance because they needs rules and processes to function, particularly when company directors have legal responsibilities and liability. In the UK this results in an elected Board of Directors who regulate its behaviour.

Many organisations also have formalised project governance. This is an attempt…

Job application and interview processes can be long and difficult. It’s really tricky to know what an employer is looking for or whether they meet your expectations. Job descriptions try to explain a role but often don’t reveal much about the selection criteria for candidates. How brilliant would it be if employers told you what their criteria was from the beginning?

Here at Kainos our multi-disciplinary teams develop software supporting digital transformation. Teams get to work on creating and building large-scale digital services and products that are transforming citizen and user experiences.

We like (software) architects to work within our…

Have you noticed the latest trends in software architecture? These trends are pervasive practices that everyone seems to be talking about and doing. Or at least claim they’re doing.

Now we’re used to trends in fashion. Some of us are slavish followers of fashion. Most of us aren’t — we don’t care so much about following the latest fashion. But it is difficult to avoid the impact of trends even if you’re a late-follower or one of the late-majority. Take a look back at your family photos from 20 years ago, you will be dressed in the fashion of the…

Learning about the Gdansk shipyard in the Solidarity Museum with @Nigel Lynas

What have you learned in the last six months?

This is a question I sometimes ask when interviewing. It helps to tease out if someone has stopped learning — or worse, stopping thinking they need to learn.

When you are younger it is easy to think you have lots to learn. Then when you’ve worked for a while and learned a bit it can become natural to think you’ve learned lots. And that can lead some to consider they have less to learn. But after a few more years you will likely come to realise there is so much left…

One thing stands out most from what I have learned in the past 10 years.

Non-functional failure is the most dangerous technical risk in software.

Agile is designed to allow for change, encouraging experimentation. And if you are experimenting — with your design, user experience or technology — you should expect to fail. By failing you learn more, allow innovation and will have a better product afterwards. We expect this from controlled experimentation, but are caught out when a whole service fails. It is this macro-failure that we must beware of.

Macro Failure

credit: Rory Hanratty

There are five macro reasons I can see why…

I got an iPad Pro. No, not one of the gigantic cinematic ones that forces you to buy a bigger bag to carry it, the original sized iPad. And it's fantastic. Fantastic because of its killer feature. The Pencil.

Now we all know it's not a pencil, who ever heard of a plastic pencil? But then it's not quite a pen either. Nor is stylus a great name because this is designed for writing and drawing. So I can see why Apple chose the least bad name for it.

This is the writing device (ok then Pencil) that you have…

Openness is an extremely powerful enabler of improvement and learning. GDS sums it up nicely with its 10th design principle: open makes things better.

Openness allows ideas to breed. If information is open then everyone can see it, learn from it, question it, collaborate on it and contribute to it. Open makes this virtuous improvement possible. Poor ideas are refined, good ideas are made better. This is why open is better. And why it is so powerful.

Look back at the open standards that have been the basis for significant freedom and creativity. The freedom of the internet is based…

There are many technology communities around us. Many of these are public communities — open source, local meet-up or technology conference communities that form around a common interest. I don’t want to talk about these. Instead I want to describe growing a technology leaders community inside an organisation.

Within organisations there is a strong need for communities to bring together people of similar interests to share and grow their collective understanding. With active communities an organisation will be actively improving at scale. For software companies Spotify have made this popular with their Chapters and Guilds that formalise the community of…

Peter Campbell

Software Architect. CTO @ Kainos. Cyclist. Green Tea-ist.

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