Hack Summit 2014 Review

The hack.summit() conference is over. Time to review the largest developer conference in history.

Tens of thousands of people registered for the hack.summit() conference. The conference itself was purely virtual, distributed via Crowdcast. The used technology was Google Hangouts. The big advantage of Google Hangouts is the direct streaming to YouTube, which made the recording of a session available seconds after it ended.

Not only was the conference the largest one in the IT history, but it was also ambitious with its goals. The main theme was non-profit. Open-source software was a big topic, along with interesting technologies and a bunch of amazing stories. In general I believe in the movement of better education (especially in programming), since I fear that programming itself becomes less sexy each day. In our youth one had to learn the shell or even programming to get started with a computer. These days everything seems to prevent such interests. Tablets and smartphones try to be the only computers and these devices don't come with a shell or any programming environment at all.

Did the conference reach its goals? I don't know. It least it broadcasted awareness and tried to make an impact. And that's probably the most important aspect. However, while I can't say anything about reaching the big goal, I can definitely say something up the given talks and speakers.

I didn't have the chance to see all talks, but I picked some interesting ones. What I did not like so much were the (fireside) chats. While most talks reminded me on "watching two guys having a Google hangouts session", the (fireside) chats have been particularly themed by that impression. Nevertheless, some of those chats turned out to be great. I especially liked Brian Fox, who wrote the BASH. In my opinion a really cool guy. A also enjoyed David Heinemeier Hansson. His foul language and his devotion gave me quite a pleasant time.

Scott Hanselman gave a nice talk again. Considering that the broad audience is not in .NET land, but rather web dev, Java, Ruby or Python, I feel that he made a good job in showing people the power of .NET and the new direction towards open-source. Of course Microsoft Azure was a big topic in his talk - even though I fear that it was not as convincing as the .NET part.

On the other hand it was also interesting to hear Tom Chi, who works for Google and was in charge at the Google Glass project. His talk was mostly about the different work attitude at Google X, where they try to avoid debates based on conjectures and build prototypes for determinism instead.

While some talks have been rather broad and common, others tried to emphasize a special point. Others focused on story telling. Here I found the session of Fabien Potencier (creator of the PHP Symfony framework) delightful. He told three stories. His main point was to make things easier and to give users more instructions. However, even though I know that (as a developer, or as a member of a certain circle of people) I also have these blind spots, I still find it incredible that most (~90%) of all people do not know what a browser is. For them Facebook, Google or Yahoo is a browser (in case of Google, they are partially right of course, since Google Chrome is a browser, however, unfortunately they do not think of Google Chrome).

Last but not least I want to talk about Bram Cohen's session. This guy certainly knows P2P better than most people (or anyone, probably). His talk, of course, did not go into too many technical details, but was still technically driven. Nevertheless, he expressed a "I don't care" attitude. The best quotes have been: "In the last couple of years I heard these questions again and again. I am tired of them. Please give me other questions." and "I don't find any of these questions interesting, so I won't answer them.". Just wonderful!

All in all an interesting conference. Since the conference has been free, I think that criticism would be wrong. Some things could have been better, but all in all I can't complain. Wonderful job and there are certainly some interesting sessions for any IT professional (devops, dev or architect) available.

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