I just attended Sweden’s well Europe’s first context driven test conference! Knowing a few of the guys that organized it I expected it to be an extraordinary event but it actually over passed my expectations! So I decided that the reflections from this conference would end up in my very first blog post.
What I really liked the most about Let’s Test is the concept of the conference, where conferring, discussions and socializing to exchange ideas and experiences, characterizes the event. It might seem a bit scary for some people, like me for instance who once in awhile prefer to be alone and where mingling in a large crowd can be a huge personal effort.
But since I’ve been twice to CAST and quoting Paul Hollander, ” Let’s Test has stolen the concept” I sort of knew what to expect from the conference so I was better prepared this time. There were a few things that were different from CAST and these are the things which made it the best conference I’ve attended so far. So what made it so spectacular?
The people, sessions and talks
Both speakers and participants came from all over the world. I really enjoyed catching up with some old tester friends that I met at CAST and SWET3 but I also got to meet and make some new interesting tester friends which I hope I will get to chat to again.
I listened to many interesting presentations and I attended two great tutorials though it was really hard to choose which sessions to attend. There were so many I wanted to go to! I won’t go into details here regarding the sessions or things I will try to incorporate in my job (this might become a second blog post!).
The location of the event was amazing, as close to nature as you can get without going camping (I live in the city!). Not even the fact that I could hardly breath due to pollen allergy affected my positive experience! I even had to go for a jog Monday morning to explore the beautiful surroundings. It only happened once though and luckily Ola Hyltén had brought an arsenal of allergy medicine which he kindly enough shared with me( I wonder if my positive experience had anything to do with those blue pills?!).
The rooms were small but really clean and nice and since I hardly spent much time in my room it served it’s purpose in providing me a bed to get a few hours of sleep in.
There was really something for everyone at the venue. The facilities for recreation was definitely in my taste. I visited the gym a couple of times but missed out on the Sauna and both the pool table and the swimming pool. But that leaves some things for Let’s Test 2013!
The food and drinks
The food was really nice with alternatives for everyone from vegetable lovers to meat junkies and people with a sweet tooth, healthy or less healthy style. Meaning I could get my oatmeal for breakfast whilst others could feast on scrambled eggs and bacon. And a vast variety of food makes me very very happy!
I don’t know whether beer and wine serves as food but it certainly provides you some parts of your daily nutrition needs. And there were plenty of that to choose from as well. Though next time I promise I will contribute to the alternatives with some whiskey for my new and old tester friends since it seems to be a favored drink.
My own challenges
I believe my own determination to get the best out of the conference surely played a part in why I think Let’s Test was so great. I needed to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. I had set up small personal goals so that I could benefit more from the conference. And by achieving those, such as asking/commenting at least 3 things during Open season (something Henrik advised me to do at CAST 2011), mingling and making new tester friends, staying open minded but also critical thinking I influenced my own positive experience of the conference.
I also asked if I could contribute to the conference in some way and I got the opportunity to facilitate two sessions. It was a fun experience and I hope I will get the chance to do it again.
Actually I did send in an abstract together with my colleague Mattias for the conference and I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get the chance to talk. On the other hand I am pretty relieved that the proposition did not get accepted since I did not have to be nervous and could focus on the other talks and my other personal missions.
So is there something I would like to change?
No, not really but I have some thoughts that triggered from something that Michael Bolton mentioned in his Keynote. My interpretation of what he said was that we need to stay critical to our own thoughts and to our community and that we need to welcome diversity in order to continue evolving.
Since Let’s Test was the first context driven conference in Sweden I assume that some people that attended were new to the concept and the school that many of the other participants supports. They may not understand the language spoken in the community and I think that if you are not fluent in a language it might become more difficult to understand when irony is used. I spoke to one person that did not appreciate the sarcasm and the harsh tone especially used when mentioning certain certification organizations (no names, but I’m pretty sure you know what I….am referring to). You might think that one person doesn’t matter but I think every thought needs to be considered.
My concern is that we might have scared off a few people. The conference is praised by many voices, strong and active people in the community. The few people that may not agree to everything said or the way that it is spoken and does not speak up will not be heard. If we are not receptive and notice the whispers, conferences such as Let’s Test and CAST will only attract those who already belong to the community.
As I mentioned earlier Let’s Test had something for everyone whether you wanted to run in the nature, go geocaching, buy some new shoes in the village, lift some weights in the gym, hit a ball or two (referring to the pool table), drink some wine, beer or/and whiskey, hang out with friends in room 3??, mingle with the large crowd, test in the Test Lab, play Set, play motion sensing games, go for a swim, sweat in the sauna, ask a question during Open season, listen to an Aussie, Englishmen, South African, Swedes or just go to bed.
But is the conference for anyone that does not (yet) belong to context driven community? Is it only for those who think alike? Do we not want to encourage diversity? Let’s Test is a conference for the context driven community and maybe we are comfortable and prefer to hang out with “our kind”.
I don’t know really where I’m heading with my concerns yet, but I just didn’t want to leave them unspoken.
See you at Let’s Test 2013?
I will be there!