The joy of contributing

Getting out there and sharing your knowledge will make you feel good

At our core, vizzuality is all about sharing knowledge. Whether that be in a data visualisation, at a workshop, or through a presentation, we are always seeking out opportunities to interact with people and exchange our knowledge and expertise with theirs. We get a kick out of mashing up multiple disciplines and finding something new.

Therefore, it was no surprise when our Product Developer Simão Belchior got involved in organising Commit Porto, which took place last weekend. Bringing together more than 400 people, the event saw a whole range of creative forces come together in one big joyful exchange of knowledge. Wanting to know more, I asked Simão to tell me what role he had in organising the conference and why he thought it was important to do it.

CW: What is Commit Porto?

SB: Commit Porto is a tech conference organised by the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto (FEUP) Computer Engineering Alumni association. Primarily, it’s aimed at people that study or work in Porto but everyone is welcome. It brings together people who want to share their knowledge and expertise so we can tackle challenges in software development using the latest technology.

CW: How did you get involved?

SB: I studied Software Engineering at FEUP and I’m a member of the faculty’s Software Engineers Alumni Association. I joined the association as a collaborator last year, and this year I was part of the team responsible for the conference they organise.

CW: Why do you think it’s important to hold this conference?

SB: The tech scene is growing at a nice pace in Porto. Many students are graduating from the city’s universities and faculties every year and we feel it’s really important to leverage these assets and promote knowledge transference and good communication between everyone.

By organising events like this we think we can positively contribute to the continuous growth of the Porto tech scene. We hope that people can learn things that are relevant to their jobs and also things that they might not be aware of.

CW: What was your role in the conference?

I was part of the program team that defined the topics we wanted to cover and looked for speakers that could add value to the conference. Each person in the team had a list of speakers they had to invite to the conference and liaise with throughout the event preparations and on the day itself. I also helped create the design for the t-shirt and helped with logistics on the day, such as moving boxes and folding t-shirts, the really glamourous stuff!

CW: What did you get out of it?

SB: The joy of contributing! :D I really like to take part in these types of associations, so it was nice to be able to actively contribute to it. Plus, I really love that I have the opportunity to give something back to the community that set me on the career path that I’m enjoying today.

It’s not just about the tech

CW: What was the most interesting thing you learnt at the Commit Porto?

SB: Sadly I didn’t manage to follow all the talks, as I had to make sure all the speakers were accounted for and ready to go on stage when their turn came. But I had a glimpse at most of the talks and was still able to learn something new. I think the talk I enjoyed most was the one about prototyping. It’s a very relevant topic to my job as I’m always in close communication with our designers and our clients in the building of our tools, and communicating our understanding of the clients needs and expectations is crucial to the success of our projects. Prototyping is definitely useful and knowing how others are doing it is great. The talk also covered some interesting guidelines and best practices on how to do prototyping that I’ll be trying out myself.

CW: Do you have any advice for anyone else that wants to set up their own conference or is already involved in conference planning?

SB: Make sure you start with enough time! I think we started planning things in February, and it all worked out great, but if we’d had a couple more months that would’ve been nice.

Also if you are inviting speakers, make sure you ask around and talk to everyone you know. Sometimes our networks seem shorter than they actually are but once you start asking, you might find that you are connected to some unexpected but brilliant people who’d be perfect speakers for your conference.

We’d love to hear your tips for organising conferences and finding great speakers too so please leave them in the comments section for everyone to see.

If you have any questions for Simão, leave a comment here or tweet him at @belchior.

More information about Commit Porto can be found here.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.