The fifth NSConference starts on Monday so I’ve decided to dust off and update an old blog post (on an old blog) I wrote for the 2010 conference. Below you will find some comments aimed mainly at new attendees although some old hands might also find them useful too. However, before I get to that, if you’ve never been before then you might want to read a post I wrote about the 2011 conference.
The first NSConference was held in 2009 and at that time I had only been developing Cocoa applications for around a year. Despite being a seasoned developer, the previous 15 or so years of experience seemed to vanish and I felt like a relative newbie. In these situations there is a temptation to keep your head down a bit and try not to make a fool of yourself. Don’t. Apart from the fact that the people who will be at the conference are very amiable, friendly and won’t laugh at you, the best way to learn is to ask questions and even the seasoned developers who will learn from your questions and comments.
Related to the previous item, don’t be in awe of anyone and try to fight any natural shyness you have. Go and say hello to people and sit at a table of strangers during the conference. Go and mingle and introduce yourself to people and meet as many people as you can. At my first conference I suffered a degree of shyness and, whilst I would go and say hello to people from Twitter or people I had emailed, I wasn’t brilliant about approaching the speakers or people I didn’t know. I really regretted it when I left and felt I’d not talked to nearly as many people as I’d like to have done.
Remember that there will be videos of the talks (fingers crossed!) so you really don’t need to sit and scribble notes in them. Occasionally you might want to jot something down or take a photo of a slide but please don’t try to transcribe the talks. Concentrate on them, enjoy them and absorb the contents.
If you’re in a talk which just isn’t doing it for you then by all means open your laptop or turn on your iPad and do something else but please do it quietly. Just because you’re not interested doesn’t mean that the people around you aren’t. As a speaker it’s an awful experience if you hear the background noise in the room increasing as you realise that you’ve lost your audience’s attention. None of the speakers present professionally (well I don’t think any do) so please be supportive and understanding of their nerves and inexperience.
Scotty is seen as the figurehead of the conference but he has a small team of fabulous people helping him. If you have any problems, concerns, questions or comments please do tell someone. It’s meant to be a fun, productive conference so please don’t keep quiet if something is affecting your enjoyment.
The main thing to remember is that you are there to have a good time meeting new people, catching up with existing friends and learning lots of new stuff. I’m sure you will have a brilliant time and will get an enormous amount out of it and please do come and say hello to me.