A Retrospective on Try! Swift NYC 2016
Note: I initially meant to post this shortly after the conference - and in fact had it mostly written up - but I put it aside as other priorities came up. I was reminded of my draft while perusing my Evernotes the other day and realized it might still be pertinent and worth sharing. So - almost two months later - here it is. :)
Try! Swift NYC was my first iOS conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised at how personal it all felt. It has just the right number of attendees to feel like everyone was approachable enough to meet. It was great to saying hello in person to numerous folks from the iOS community that I'd only encountered in the Twittersphere until then.
In a post from a while ago, the organizer, Natasha (yes - The Robot!), wrote about building the kind of conference she would like to be a part of. The diversity of the audience and the speaker panel successfully reflected this sentiment. I think Natasha and her team did a great job of establishing a very tangible air of inclusiveness that permeated the conference.
In her opening keynote, Natasha said that one of the goals of Try! was to create a space where vulnerability is embraced and respected: a space where we could admit our struggles and help each other overcome them. I thought this dovetailed quite nicely with Erik Romjin's excellent presentation on fostering self- and community-care. Which leads me to ...
On the subject of care, one highlight of Erik's talk for me was his point about taking care of oneself first in order to be better equipped to take care of others. I've recently had a growing interest in taking care of the mind in addition to the body, and Erik's discussion about burnout and mental exhaustion was especially thought-provoking and inspiring.
The Geeky Stuff
Talks on the more technical and not-so-technical side of things represented a diversity of subjects, the selection of which is too hard to pick a favorite from! However, there were a couple of themes I found particularly noteworthy, starting with IBM's presentation on server side-Swift and Rob Napier's talk on Swift and functional programming. Rob brought home the point that while Swift at its heart isn't a functional programming language, functional programming really is more of a way of thinking than it is a language feature.
Rob's and IBM's talks specifically made me think about how Swift is a great jumping off point into learning other technologies and - yes - ways of thinking. Swift may not be a functional language per se, and it's only just getting started on the server, but it's a great jumping-off point to learning these things. A deeper dive into these areas seems a little less intimidating because we can start from a place of a familiarity - Swift helps us get started on the path toward learning these topics at greater depth, if we so choose.
Another highlight for me was Natalia Berdys's talk on "patterns of randomness," which illustrated some of the tools we have at our disposal to create some really beautiful, playful and moving creations. Beyond just being able to make JSON look beautiful (😜) , one of the best things about being an engineer is the sheer possibility of the things we can create, and Natalia's talk was a good reminder of this.
All in all, the conference was a blast, and I certainly came away feeling like I met some really cool, nice people and learned some really cool things. Looking forward to more Try! conferences to come!