Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Becoming a Social Developer" at NDC Oslo

I had a really amazing time at NDC Oslo last week. And I also did a brand new session using a new technique. I'll have to say that I'm happy with the way that things came out, even though I had some apprehensions about the talk.

So let's do a quick review of "Becoming a Social Developer" from NDC Oslo.

[Update: You can watch a recording of the presentation here: Becoming a Social Developer - Jeremy Clark]

A New Technique
I tried something completely new to me: hand-drawn slides. This is something that I first picked up from talking to David Neal (@reverentgeek) at That Conference last August. He recommended Dan Roam's book Show and Tell (Jeremy's review), and I found it to be a very interesting read.

The first thing that stuck out is that Roam describes several "storylines" for presentations. When looking through these, I saw that "The Drama" would be a good storyline for this particular talk. In fact, I got out my portable white board and drew up the outline:

Since this talk is basically me telling a bunch of stories (and no code at all!), I figured that I needed something interesting going on the screen, so I took another bit of advice from David and Roam and decided to hand-draw my slides.

I spent *a lot* of time on this -- trying to figure out what to write, what to draw, and how much stuff I needed to fill in a full hour. I ended up with 125 slides (YIKES!).

Here are a few samples:

Force Field
May I join you?
What a dork!

As you can see, my drawing skills aren't all that great. I think I'll go back and redraw a few of the slides if I give this talk again, but overall, I'm happy with the result.

If you're really curious, you can download the presentation slides (warning, 125 page PDF file): Slides for Becoming a Social Developer at NDC Oslo.

The Apprehension
I was a bit apprehensive about giving this talk as a conference session. I have written articles on it (Becoming a Social Developer & On Being a Social Developer), talked about it on .NET Rocks (Episode 1187), had plenty of hallway conversations, and even had a chance to share it before the keynote at a couple of events (including Live! 360 and Code PaLOUsa).

And back when I originally drew my outline (in October 2015), I was planning it as a full conference session. But the more I thought about it, the less interested I thought people would be. It's a soft topic, and these are hard to do at a technical conference. And to make things more difficult, this would need to be toward the front of the conference to be most useful. I figured that few people would want to start off a conference by attending a soft topic -- that's when you want to dive headlong into the tech; soft topics are good when your head is full and you need a break.

However, I was very surprised with the turnout at NDC Oslo. The room was decently filled (I'm really bad at estimating numbers, so I won't try). I had the first time slot after the opening keynote. The good news is since Troy Hunt gave the keynote, I knew that everyone would be awake.

The Talk
Several people live-tweeted the talk. A big thanks to those folks. Plus, I got to spend some time with them during the rest of the week (another way to meet new friends).

To see all the activity from the talk reinforced that I'm not alone in having these feelings and fears when attending developer events.

So, thank you to my friends David Neal (@reverentgeek), Sabine Bendixen (@SabineBendixen & @getNextIT), Erika Carlson (@eacarlson), Pavneet Singh Saund (@pavsaund), and Daniel Gaszewski (@DanielGaszewski).

The Results
I was very happy with the results. Several people came up to me to talk after the session, and a couple of the speakers even mentioned me in their talks later in the week.

I also know of several people who actively used the tips that I presented. It was really great to see this tweet come through on the last day of the conference:
Fortunately I had a chance to talk to Daniel in person about his experiences, and I'm hoping to share more of them in the future.

In addition, the topic was featured in the NDC Oslo opening day re-cap video:

Based on the response and the successes that people had meeting new people, I'm really encouraged to keep sharing this message. And although I had a bit of apprehension about the session itself, things went very well (much better than I expected): there was a good turnout, I managed to get my stories in the right order, and the timing worked out pretty close to perfectly.

I'm really looking forward to the video of the presentation. Once it's posted, I'll be sure to pass it along.

[Update: You can watch a recording of the presentation here: Becoming a Social Developer - Jeremy Clark]

And today, something interesting happened...
In my presentation, I mentioned how I have become a person who makes connections between other developers (something that is definitely not part of my nature). In particular, I talked about how I was able to connect Maggie Pint (who has an interest in date/time challenges) with Matt Johnson (who I refer to as "Mr. DateTime").

Today, Maggie announced that she has a new challenge ahead of her:
And she blames me for helping get it started:

I'm really glad I could get the ball rolling in the right direction. I made the connection, but it was Maggie who did all the work. She continued the conversation with Matt, she got involved with open source projects and the surrounding community, and ultimately that work led to her getting a new opportunity.

You Never Know...
You never know which of these relationships turn into something bigger, and you never know which relationships may change your life.
If you want to continue the conversation and join the movement, head over to Becoming a Social Developer, sign up for the newsletter, and send in your stories.

Happy Coding!

Oh, and I lied, there was some code in the presentation...


  1. I remember very distinctly that you told me there was a second person in the world who had built a time clock and given some conference talks featuring RavenDB and I was like 'how the heck have we not run into each other before'. Actually, I knew Matt's blog and his RavenDB extension work, I just didn't click it together with his name at that point.
    I also remember the first thing I said when you introduced me to Matt was 'We should be friends'. That worked out.
    Glad we could provide an example of networking working!

  2. As I mentioned in my blog post summarising my impressions, I followed my heart and started the conference with your wonderful talk. Your message was spot on, and you most certainly did a good job with the slides and story. I'm definitely leaning more to the extrovert side, but still not the best in taking initiative to start the conversation with new people, especially when there are other people i know around me. I was inspired to actually hang out with as many new people as possible and feel so much richer after the experience. I've also been deliberate in following your example of making introductions.

    Funny thing about connections and introductions; I've now connected with Sabine, Daniel and David (amongst others) just by being in your proximity at the conference and through sharing interests on twitter.
    It was also great bumping into you throughout the conference and I'm sad I missed your other session. Too many nerves on friday for my own talk. Next time I'll be ready with all the details before the conference :)

    I was blown away to see that introduction between Maggie and Matt turn into something special straight after NDC. "You never know"

    Keep up the great work on spreading the social message, I'll do my part of opening the circle through work at my local communities.

  3. I was a bit torn on the first talk. Technical talk I know I want to see, or interesting talk about getting to know more people at developer events? Previously, the only logical choice would have been the technical talk, but I have learned that I need to learn more about how to get out of my "shell". So i picked your talk.

    And boy, I'm glad.

    Your talk really set the stage for the rest of the conference for me. It got me inspired to meet and talk to new people all through the conference. Given, I could have done more, but being kind of an introvert, I felt like I did a heck-of-a-job. I feel a lot more confident about these things too, now.

    I wrote about my experience on NDC Oslo 2016 on my blog: (where I recommend your talk btw ;))

    Like Pavneet said before me here: "Keep up the great work on spreading the social message". Thank you!