Around one thousand Minnesotans showed up to Minnebar last Saturday despite the blizzard (we’ll hear from that special guest below). Session 0 speaker, Bridget Kromhout, kicked off a day of sessions with plenty of drone racing, indie gaming, pizza, and #MNTech community building to go around.
Since 2006, Minnebar has been an annual technology and software conference held in the Twin Cities. Every Minnebar is a unique experience for each attendee, especially first time participants. I was curious what this year’s first time attendees thought of Minnebar. Did any particular sessions stand out to them? Did they gain inspiration from the community? When they walked away, what did they take with them? Here’s what they had to say.
The first rule of Minnebar is that there are no observers, only participants. Even though this was Edward Euclide’s first Minnebar, he lead a session on using theatre methods for designing virtual reality experiences which combined his background in performance arts and his skills in User Experience Design.
This was my first Minnebar and it felt spacious, but it still felt full. I really enjoyed the session with the Indie Game Dev Micro-Talks. It planted all these little seeds of wisdom in my brain: economy, difficulty, consequence. It got me to that initial part of the learning curve, the most enjoyable part where you’re mind is just getting all these new insights. Meanwhile all the sweat and dirt that went into acquiring us this knowledge is hidden behind the playful eyes of an indie game developer.
I also had the pleasure of leading a session! I was so totally surprised by the turnout for a presenter at my level. We got a really cross-disciplinary turn-out, which was exactly the goal and exactly what Minnebar has the potential to be all about. We had an architect, theatre artist, musician, product owner, graphic designer, researcher, UX designers and full stack developers, all working together under the same framework.
Sarah Cooke graduated from Prime Digital Academy in December 2017, and she currently works at Kipsu. Her interest in IoT lead to her team taking second place in a hackathon. Sarah’s first Minnebar inspired her to continue exploring technology.
I knew a number of people presenting, and I had a handful of sessions I was truly looking forward to attending! I see a lot of events like this as a healthy combination of social/reunion, networking, education, and inspiration. Minnebar did not disappoint, even with the relentless snow piling up outside. Minnesotans were shaking their heads coming in thinking, “It can’t be as bad as they’re making this out to be.”
Selfishly, I attended more sessions led by folks I knew than sessions that would expand my learning for the day. My favorite session was Adam Johnson’s DevOps for Small Teams and Startups, closely followed by the discussion of junior devs by Minneapolis Junior Devs. Both were engaging and thought provoking in their own ways — not to mention inspiring as I return to my code and continue to work, learn, and explore more things through technology.
Minnebar has something for everyone: designers, developers, and entrepreneurs. Kam Kubesh is an entrepreneur and designer, and he’s now working toward becoming a software developer. At his first Minnebar, Kam found that the variety of sessions piqued many of his interests.
Minnebar was a great experience to be able to connect with a new community and gain some insight into new topics that were not on my radar. Being new to the world of tech, I thought much of it would not relate or even be beyond my current knowledge. This was not the case! The community was very welcoming and even discussed topics at a level that felt inclusive to all different skillsets. The “un-conference” format has always been a favorite of mine because it allows discussions to happen organically, and it lets the discussion change right up to the event, flexing to our always changing world.
Causes and Effects of Technology lead by Dan Wallace was very interesting. Many people brought up various topics about the good and/or bad side effects of technology. One person might bring up a serious issue, which would quickly be countered with possible positive outcomes. While there was no major conclusion, the discussion brought many different perspectives into play that many people may not have considered.
The session on art was one of my interests! I came to tech from the world of design, and I certainly hope to engage with it on a regular basis. Members of the group all had very unique ways they were engaging in art in their lives. Conversations sometimes would lead into interesting work happening in different areas, including books and podcasts. This conversation opened my eyes to the many forms that art can take in our daily lives.
Minnebar was a wonderful experience of bringing together a great group of people. As all un-conferences have taught me, don’t be afraid to submit a topic and see where the discussion leads. I cannot wait to see what is brought to the table next year!
The biggest star of the day was Blizzard, another first time attendee. Blizzard arrived too early and made a mess. Blizzard could be seen everywhere during Minnebar, and they had a lot to say about their first time attending.
Minnebar? Ope! I thought I was attending Minnebrrr. I didn’t have enough time to put my own session together, and I wanted Minnebrrr to be very, very cool. Minnesotans and their community events — I tell ya. They don’t hesitate to break out winter wear and strap on the cross-country skis for free pizza and community building. See you in a few seasons, everybody!
Minnebar is organized by Minnestar, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that works to create experiences where the passion and potential of the Minnesota technology community come together.
Disclosure: One of Ping.MN’s contributing editors is a member of Minnestar’s Board of Directors.