An industry that never stands still
I’m a great believer that you should never stop learning. This IT industry of ours never sleeps and unless we make the effort to educate ourselves we inevitably get left behind.
More to learn, less time to do it in
As I have got older, I have found that I slip behind the learning curve. I like to console myself that this is mostly due to my interests widening so the learning I have to do to keep up with our world, just becomes greater, but my time to do so seems to ever decrease.
Formal courses are all very well….
Formal courses and text books are a well proven education channel, and generally have the benefit of providing some sort of evidential piece of paper to prove that you have completed the learning in question. However, one of the great things about our industry is the willingness of incredibly talented and knowledgeable people to give their time and effort to pass on their knowledge. Often for free.
… but why not take advantage of free knowledge transfer
There are many YouTube videos that act as brilliant learning aids. These “how to” videos are great if you need help doing something specific. They are instantly available but in general you need to search for a specific topic to make use of them.
In my opinion he best way to take advantage of the generous nature of our industry colleagues, is to go to conferences. While there may not be a presentation dealing with your latest, hair tearing, issue, conferences have presentations that expand your outlook and put you contact with like minded individuals, any one of which may have the “magic bullet” you are looking for.
So, for just a few pounds, or even for free, you can get to see and hear industry experts sharing their knowledge. Not only do you get real world advice in the form of a presentation, but almost without exception, these experts are incredibly approachable and happy to discuss their field outside the confines of their presentation.
Well let’s start off with the Edinburgh Wordcamp held in November 2015. A great weekend of talks from some of the best WordPress speakers in the UK. Including Heather Burns, who is probably the foremost speaker on web law in the UK if not Europe. I have to declare an interest here though. My local WordPress group, were the organisers of the event. A nicer bunch of people you couldn’t wish to meet. By the time the event was coming to a close there were already talk of the next one.
To quote the Fossdem website, “FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate.”.
Fossdem is held in Brussels and is the biggest free and open source conference in Europe. Attended by some 5000 hackers and with over 600 presentations it attracts some big names from all over the world to speak.
This year, 2016, I’m really exited. It would appear that one of the biggest free software names in the world will be speaking. Richard Stallman, Founder of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation will be giving his thoughts on advanced licensing issues in Free Software projects.
Even though I do not consider myself a developer (and neither do many other attendees of Fossdem) I always get a lot out of the conference which is entirely free of charge.
To be honest, I’m not too sure what to expect at Wordcamp Europe. I have talked to many people who have attended in the past and their enthusiasm and determination to return has made me decide to attend for the first time. It has to be said that the location of Vienna didn’t hurt any either.
Like Fossdem, the size of the conference (at the time of writing they have sold out all 1500 tickets and trying to secure more space to sell more) draws speakers from all over the world. These include speakers from Automatic (the owners of WordPress) and other companies, such as iThemes, that are world renowned for their plug-ins and themes.
Don’t just sit there…
Make the most of the generous nature of all these people willing to share these knowledge with you. I’m sure that I will be attending other, smaller events during the year. After all you can’t be over educated, can you?