I asked the company I work for3 to pony up the money and the time off and they obliged, spending a little extra to help pay for someone's diversity ticket.
There were a lot of things I didn't expect. Little things like for some reason I didn't think we'd get lunch4.
So the talks were mostly technical (yes there was a little math[s] involved), but there were a couple that were more general. About how to get on in the industry, how to cope with difficult situations, that sort of thing. I'm not sure how I felt about those parts. I mean, they were decent talks, but that's not why I was interested in going. I think that if a conference is about a very specific thing, then general feel-good talks are a little like filler; they could have sat equally well in any tech conference. I understand why people enjoy them; I enjoyed them, and I understand why putting them in a conference means that people don't have to ask their boss for a ticket to a positivity seminar instead of something more "worky", but they didn't add much to the day for me personally.
There were a couple of sponsor companies represented in the main hall but they weren't any kind of pushy. In fact, they were so relaxed that I didn't know whether they were official representatives of anything at all, and felt a bit odd about approaching them. So I didn't.
I got to choose my lanyard colour, and chose red, which was the conference's way of saying I'd prefer not to have my photo taken. I had no idea that was even going to be an option but was glad it was done in such a clear way. The photographers didn't need to squint at a mark on your name-badge or - heaven forbid - ask you to your face whether it was ok. They did, anyway, they came up and had a chat and said they would make a good-faith attempt to not include us red-ribboners in any pictures but that obviously crowd shots were difficult to manage.
All in all, the organisers made the day feel really comfortable. They went out of their way to make people feel included. One example of how they really thought about the audience was that they had a row of seats on the stage, and if you wanted to speak sometime in the future, you could site there and look out over the crowd during a talk, to get an idea of how it feels. Not many people took them up on it, but a couple did.
And I went home happy5.
I was going to write about it at the time - in fact I've just had to replace "yesterday" with "a couple of months ago" because of my procrastination. ↩
We got lunch. ↩
Ok, I went to the after party and had a few drinks and met some randoms. ↩