Nick (gagravarr) wrote,

GotoCon Aarhus 2013 round-up

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend GOTO Aarhus 2013, the original and biggest of the GOTO Conferences. In short, it was excellent!

During the course of the conference, I took notes of interesting things (with varying levels of detail and comprehensiveness...), which I've put in another post. I started off with one post, but it got a bit big, so I've opted instead to split them up. This one's all about the conference itself. But, before we get to that...

My first involvement with GOTO was a couple of years ago, when I attended + spoke at the first GOTO Amsterdam. I largely enjoyed that one, but it wasn't quite what I'd expected, both in terms of the audience and the things covered. Unfortunately, this expectations gap meant that my talk there wasn't quite the right one... While everyone who came really liked it and learnt a lot from it, sadly it didn't get the numbers it might have had. This time round, I knew what to expect, and knew the kind of audiences and speakers there, so was better prepared to make the most out of it!

For those who've not made it to a GOTO Conference before, they cover a bit of a mixture of topics, but one that seems to work well together. You seem to learn what you need today, what you might need tomorrow, along with a fun bunch of people to speak to between sessions to discuss it all with. Everything is related to Software Development, but in a broad sense, not just pure tech in isolation. So, along with the talks on technology stuff, you also have project management, architecture, careers, technology stacks, general approaches and more. Some of the best talks weren't the most immediately obvious ones, so it's certainly worth trying out some tracks outside of your normal role.

GOTO Aarhus ran with 6 tracks, so it's not a small event. I'd say that at least half the time, I wanted to attend 3 of the talks, so you're not short on interesting things to attend! Possibly my record was one slot where I quite fancied going to 5 out of the 6 talks on offer! The event took place in the Aarhus Musikhuset, the main concert hall, so for many of the sessions you were sat in nice tiered seating, in a medium or big room. It took me a little while to work out which room was where, but then I discovered a very nifty locator in the mobile app. That worked much better than I expected, and showed you where in the building you were, where the room was, and what direction to head in. It was the future arrived! One or two more signs might've been helpful though, as you do look a little bit silly navigating your way round a concert hall using your ipad...

The conference ran over 3 days, and despite fitting a lot in, didn't feel too busy. Partly I think this was due to the 20 minute break between every (50 minute) session, which gave a chance to pause, have a drink, snack on something and re-charge. It saved a mad dash between sessions, and certainly helped me keep going to the end! The sponsors seemed to like it too, as there were more people about for them to chat to. The break area was sunny, and you could walk outside for fresh air, which made a big difference to energy levels vs being buried in some deep basement for 3 days!

Despite there being a large number of people there, everyone seemed very friendly, I had lots of interesting chats with speakers and attendees alike. Possibly I should've got a tshirt saying "I'm not Danish", as almost everyone tried speaking Danish to me first, but everyone was happy and able to switch to English! As well as the danes, there were people from all over Scandinavia there, along with a smattering of other European countries, so there was a good mix.

GOTO had a lot of students there helping out, and some of them did an amazing job at note taking and summarising! Check #gotoaar for some, but the one that most caught my eye was Mathilde Hoeg, who did some amazing summaries like these:

For my much less exciting notes than those... Move onto part 2 here.

If you missed Aarhus, as well as next year's one, there's still time to make it to GOTO Berlin in a couple of weeks, which looks to have an excellent line-up too! See here for details and signup.
Tags: conferences, gotocon

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