Jon, Mark, Johnny, and special guest Jamal Yusuf discuss what to expect when attending a conference like GopherCon. What should you be doing before you attend GopherCon? What should you bring to the conference? What shouldn’t you bring? What are the training sessions about? What about the hacking sessions and talking with the Go team? What if you don’t know anyone?
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Hey everybody, welcome to Go Time! This is our podcast where we talk about anything really related to Go. Today, with GopherCon coming up, what we wanted to do was talk a little bit about what to expect of GopherCon, how to get the most out of it… And in order to do that, I have two people here who have been to many GopherCons…
All of the GopherCons.
Okay, all of them. [laughter] So there's Mark Bates. How are you doing, Mark?
Alright, Jon. How are you doing?
Pretty good. And Johnny Boursiquot… Did I say that right?
No, you didn't. [laughter]
I don't know how to pronounce names.
We're starting out well. It's Boursiquot.
Boursiquot. Okay, I apologize.
Try MC-ing conferences…
It would not be fun. [laughter]
I've gotten to the stage where I just ask everybody their name. Jon, I've asked you, like "How do you pronounce your name, Jon Calhoun?" "Yes, Jon Calhoun." I did it to Brad Fitzpatrick, I've done it to everybody in the Go community I've introduced, whether I know them or not.
Alright. So, Johnny, how are you?
I'm doing well, I'm quite excited for next week, actually. We'll get into that, won't we?
Okay. And then we also have Jamal Yusuf. Did I…?
Yes, you got it right.
I've asked you beforehand, but I wanna make sure I did it right. Okay. Jamal is going to be at his first GopherCon, so he's gonna be here with me asking questions, trying to get the scoop and trying to make it a little bit easier for you guys to get an idea of what to expect.
Okay, so I guess just to get started, Jamal, do you have any questions for them, or do you want me to start? I don't mind…
No, I wanna know what the band is. Everybody has guitars in their background, right? [laughter]
That's the first question, what's the band…
I'm missing a part of the Go community, man… Everybody seems to play instruments, right? I've gotta get a guitar, a harmonica, or something…
If you're gonna play harmonica, you're gonna have to fight it out with Ron Evans, who's one of the most amazing harmonica players. As a matter of fact, I got my box of harmonicas out, bringing it to San Diego so he can teach me a few things on it. But yeah, the band started – this will be the third year of the band. It started a couple years ago in Denver.
What we do is we get a full backline, a full band that comes in, and they usually start the night. Like a cover band, fun stuff, whatever. Then basically gophers sign up, we choose all these songs, we learn them, we show up and we're like "Hey, I wanna play drums on this song, and I'm gonna sing on this song, and I'm gonna play guitar" and whatever, and we kind of pull the pieces of the band out and slot in our own… But yeah, it's a really good time. Last time we've done it they've thrown a huge party. Has the party been announced, Johnny?
I don't know…
Has the location of the party been announced?
If it's not already, it's gotta be soon.
She'll chase you down, really…
Yeah… So Heather is the event planner for GopherCon. She is what makes GopherCon run.
She's awesome, she's awesome.
She is amazing. Jamal, do you play an instrument?
I've got some harmonicas in a drawer that I've been meaning to learn, but I have not done that yet… But now that I see how many musicians are secretly in the Go community, I need to start practicing. [laughter]
I think Go, like most communities – you know, half the community is developers, right? Sorry, half the developers are musicians. [laughter] Half the development community is musicians, I would say. It kind of goes together, right? So bring your harmonicas, and how knows, maybe Ron can teach you a few things [unintelligible 00:04:53.26]
It's fun, there's a GopherCon band channel in Slack, and you can drop in there. Brian Downs does most of the organizing, and he does a really amazing job. It's at the welcome party, so I guess that's the first tip - go to the welcome party. Don't miss it. Even if you don't like parties, do not skip the welcome party. It's more than just a party; like I said, we have a band made up of fellow gophers. Last year they rented an entire park in Denver to set up the stage, and they had about a dozen food trucks there. It was just amazing. The first year we smashed guitars, it was a good time. [laughter]
Yeah, yeah. There was no guitar smashing last year?
There was no guitar – I had bought a guitar for the conference and I ended up returning it; [unintelligible 00:05:41.24] the party. Like I said, it's usually good fun for everybody, and this year's location is stunning.
San Diego, right?
Yeah… But where they're having the party - it's pretty awesome. You'll definitely want to attend, let's put it that way.
Some question I have - just in general, going to a conference, it's nice to go and see everybody in person for the first time, but in terms of networking, I know that the conference is set up in a way to allow downtime in between workshops and talks and all that… But one of the things I'm kind of struggling is planning out the entire day; it's a little overwhelming, with all the talks happening at the same time, workshops and all that… Is there a preferred time to network, other than the welcome party? Is there an unofficial, off-the-schedule, like "Hey, go to this Starbucks near the hotel. That's where all the real gophers are gonna be"? [laughter]
I don't think there's any secret society, is there, Johnny? If there is, I don't know about it.
There's no speakeasy.
Yeah, exactly. [laughter] You know, that wouldn't be uncommon. First of all, Jamal, I always recommend - as Johnny will tell you - dinners and lunches are a fantastic networking experience… So find me one of the days and come to lunch with me; I usually try to grab some people. So just find me and come with me and I'll introduce around, we'll have a fun lunch. And same with Johnny, I'm sure he'll take you, too.
So lunches, dinners, the events… But during the day it's important too, and there's all sorts of great breaks. They do a great job of scheduling afternoon breaks, and morning breaks… Again, Heather brings out all the stocks for snacks, and whatever, and that's a great time to interact with people.
Everybody's gonna be in the hotel. The conference is in the Marriot. I think there's 1,200 gophers staying in that one hotel… [laughter] Yeah, I know. And the rest across the street - I feel bad for everybody else on that other side…
Don't feel bad… They can just cross the street and get in there.
[00:07:49.18] No, no, I meant for the people in our hotel. [laughter] So you're gonna see people all the time. But the schedule - I'm sure Johnny has some tips here in a second here; I'm just gonna finish up my tip… The schedule is always a tough one - how do you watch the talks AND network? And how do you watch three talks simultaneously? So my advice always is – most conferences do it, but GopherCon in particular does an amazing job of recording the talks. Just first-class. And they're all available and they're always up within about 2-3 weeks after the conference. It's ridiculously quick.
So when you're looking at a schedule and you see, say, two talks that you're really interested in, my advice - I would go to the one that's less crowded. I'd go to the "less popular" one. You'll get better seats, the speaker will really appreciate it if the room fills up with other people, you won't be standing, and a lot of times the fire marshals will come out and they'll kick people out if they're standing in the row, or sitting down, or stuff like that.
So you go to that one, and then two weeks later you sit in your living room, grab a drink, pull it up on the TV and now you have the best seat in the house for that really big, overcrowded talk you couldn't see. And then if nothing appeals to you, or you feel like "I don't wanna watch any of these right now", then go into the hallway and you'll always find gophers out there - always, in the hallway - and just talk to them. Again, you can pick up those talks later. Like I said, maybe they didn’t grab you at the conference where you wanted to spend 40 minutes watching it, but maybe at home you do. So that's always my advice and don’t bring your laptop.
Well, if you must, bring it, but keep it–
Keep it at the hotel.
Where else am I gonna put all the stickers I get, right? [laughs]
Yeah, you'll have time to decorate afterwards…
You're gonna want a shopping bag. Actually, they're giving out shopping bags. They're not doing swag bags, they're giving out bags, I believe. And then you can kind of use that bag to go shopping all week.
Yup, pretty much. But yeah, to echo a part of what Mark is saying - personally, at this point when I go to conferences my main objective is to network, to meet people, especially those that I know of online, or friends that I've made at past conferences, that I wanna catch up with… And meeting new people. I always make it a point to set up some time or put in extra effort to actually meet new people. I hang out with Mark every year; that's a given, we're gonna hang out, but I don't wanna spend all of my time with Mark. However great his personality is, you wanna spend time with other people as well, and broaden your perspective, if you will.
People are gonna come from all parts of the world, and that gives you an opportunity to see "Okay, how is the Go community in your part of the world? How have you seen it grow in your part of the world? What are some things that maybe you are doing well that we could learn from?" There's a lot of these kinds of exchanges that you're gonna be a part of if you just try to meet as many people as you can.
Again, the talks and the keynotes - all these things are recorded, and you can always go back and watch them. For some of us - both Mark and I are teaching workshops the day before the whole sessions and whatnot start, so a lot of us are gonna be tied up, if you will, but you're still gonna have a lot of opportunity to meet a lot of people you know of online.
Again, this kind of leads into my other point - if there are people that you know of online, and you're like "Man, this person's always talking about Go. I'd love to meet them", then actually go talk to them. There's this sort of fear that if you go talk to somebody who you consider to be popular in the Go community, or they're unapproachable - that couldn't be further from the truth. The Go community is absolutely very welcoming, and the people you know of that are a part of that community - they're also very nice people; they're welcoming and they enjoy actually talking to people and getting to know other people. So don't be afraid to actually talk to your heroes - I hate using that term, but don't be afraid to actually go and talk to these people, because they're people, too.
[00:11:56.00] So absolutely take advantage of the networking time, and anytime you step out of the hallway, out of a session, or the main ballroom where usually they have the keynotes - you're gonna find people out there; you're gonna find sponsor booths as well, there's all these people hanging out there, trying to get the swag… Bring a bag.
Bring a shopping bag. [laughter]
Bring a shopping bag.
I wasn't kidding. [laughter]
Every year, I always joke with my family that "Look, I don't buy T-shirts, I just go to the conference (especially GopherCon) and I replenish my wardrobe for the year", and I'm good on T-shirts. So bring a shopping bag when you walk around; there's tons of sponsors, and a lot of the stuff that they're showing is pretty cool, and most of it is built on Go. And obviously, they're trying to recruit as well, which is another thing we can talk about in a little bit… But there's tons of opportunities to network, and again, you network because – you network when you don't need it. That's the other piece of advice I'll give you - network when you don't need it, not when you absolutely need to be in touch with somebody. So take advantage of the situation, of the environment, network, talk to people, meet people and make friends.
I can't agree with that any more. It's super-important. My motto - and Johnny has probably heard me saying this a hundred times - is I don't go to the conferences necessarily for the talk. I go to see the people who I don't get to see every day, and talk about shop, and talk about things that – you know, that I can have deeper, longer conversations with in person. That's what Johnny is saying.
And by the way, Heather would kill me if it sounds like we're telling everybody not to go watch the talks. The talks are amazing, we absolutely recommend you go and watch the talks; I can stress that enough. But I'm saying you've gotta also kind of – don't feel obligated to fill your day watching every talk. Understand that it's okay to say "You know what, there's nothing in this block that truly grabs my interest right now, so I'm gonna go and find some people to talk to instead." I think Heather would agree that that is also a part of the conference, too. And like I said, grab some people, find some random people and say "Hey, do you wanna go to lunch?" I'm kind of like a Pied Piper - I start with one or two, and as I'm walking out the door I just kind of slowly pull in people, and then it's like 12 people trailing behind me off to lunch.
So do it, it's worth it. The networking is 100% worth it. And Johnny is right - everybody in the community is super-approachable. No one will yell at you or brush you off, absolutely off. They might brush me off, but not you.
So for those of us who have never gone to a training session, can you guys talk a little bit more about why – this year might be too late, obviously, but in the future, why they should consider them? Versus – you know, there's all these different training options; you can hire people to come into your company, you can buy courses online… There's a million different options, but training sessions always seem to sell out pretty quickly, or they seem to do very well… So what makes that in-person training session at like a GopherCon or something like that - who would you pitch that to?
Johnny, you can take that…
Yeah, I think we both have opinions on that, because we both teach… So the real value for me in having a live instructor in the room is really the ability – when you've got a really good instructor, if you've ever been in a room with, say, Bill Kennedy, who's gonna be teaching at the workshop, or people like that that really have a passion for teaching, they have a certain uncanny ability to read a room and know where people are struggling to understand something, where they need to spend a bit more time, where they need to slow down a little bit, or speed up.
They have an uncanny ability to read people's faces in a room and provide the best value for the money you're paying. For me that's one of the biggest things you can get out of a live person training… Because the questions you get a chance to ask are perhaps things that you might not get from a video or from reading a book.
I can tell you, in terms of pretty much my choice or my preference for training material - and I'm a developer, I learn like everybody else, even though I'm teaching; I learn by teaching - for me in terms of the learning value, I think videos offer the best value over reading for me; I consume a ton of YouTube videos, training material and whatnot. I can speed up, I can slow down, I can do a lot of things that I can't do with a book, or written training material… But the next best thing, at the top of that hierarchy is the live person training. They're gonna be able to answer your specific questions, they're gonna be able to navigate the room and deliver the value that most people are looking for.
So for a teacher - I can speak for me, and definitely Mark will have his own views on that, too - I've mentioned before that I learn by teaching; I enjoy the process of teaching, because in preparation for delivering a course or a training, I get to find out about nooks and crannies of a particular piece of technology. So it helps me master my craft before I then have to go teach it.
You've heard people say it before - if you wanna learn something really well, try and teach it to somebody else. For me this is the height of that. And I enjoy the process – for me personally, the biggest satisfaction I derive from teaching is actually seeing that moment… There's a particular moment - and Mark will probably notice - when somebody gets it; it's a fleeing moment, and if you don't look, you'll miss it. If you blink, you'll miss it. But that moment when they get it - oh man, I live for that moment.
I love when people bounce up and down in their seat and clap loudly. It's really great.
I have to echo everything Johnny has said, so I won't go into that. But from the student's perspective, if you're already going to, say, a GopherCon, and spending a bit of money, why would you wanna spend an additional $300 or $400 or $500 – I don't know what the tickets are… But every conference offers workshops; most conferences do, and they're all at different prices anyway… So why would you pay for the extra add-on? And I think Johnny is definitely correct when he says having a person there in front of you - you can't beat that value; you can't beat that. It's hands-down the best way, is to interact with another human being.
[00:19:59.03] As somebody who runs a training company, that's what I do for a living - I go around and I train developers all around the world with Gopher Guides. We go into these corporate environments and they pay a lot of money to bring trainers on-site to do that. It's just what it is, that's just the way training and teaching works. Not every company can afford to do it; not every company can bring in dedicated people for three days, fly them to their office and do it. That's kind of Fortune 500 level companies.
But your startups - if you can get people to the conference, then that extra $200, $300 or $400 add-on can actually be quite valuable and be really worth it, where they can get the training for the three or four developers on their team at basically bargain rates… Because they really are. It's eight hours, but usually the conference workshops are pretty cheap in terms of the actual value you're getting per head… So yeah, I always think it's worth it.
Every conference I've seen there's wonderful instructors. I know GopherCon does it, and other ones - they find the people they think are the best people to teach the workshops… You've got Johnny, you've got people like Bill, and me, and Dave Cheney, and Francesc Campoy, and just all these awesome people teaching. And Caroline, and Natalie… Just all sorts of amazing people. So yeah, you're not gonna waste your money if you spend it on a workshop at GopherCon, that's for sure.
That all makes a lot of sense, especially… With the startup scene it definitely makes a lot of sense, because I know the bigger companies - like you said, they can afford the training a little bit more easily… But if you have a ten-man startup it's really hard to justify the cost of bringing in trainers, and that sort of stuff.
Aside from training sessions – I guess the first day is getting to GopherCon… What should people expect that day? When they're first getting there, the first day, what would you prep them with?
Get there early for registration. Sometimes they do registration on the workshop day, and if they do that, you should absolutely try to get there, and get your badge, and all that sort of stuff as early as possible. I can't stress it – there are like 1,800 people going to this conference; they all need badges. That's almost 2,000 that need badges… So arrive really early. Or the day before, if they have hours; I can't remember if they do or not.
Yeah, typically every year they do the day before…
Well, because a lot of us are already in the building anyway for the workshops, so they often will do that.
So if you're in on Wednesday (workshop day), if you're around, come in and – well, read your email; I don't wanna get into that now. [laughter]
In my experience, you're kind of getting a groove of things at end of day one. You kind of really know "Okay, I know what the routine is, I know when I'm supposed to be aware, I know how much time to allocate to actually get into the rooms, and other rooms…" Because you've got a lot of people bumping into each other and trying to get from one place to the other, so obviously there's some built-in time for the hallway track, as they call it… But obviously, you get a sense of "Okay, this is what it's gonna take for me to get through these few days."
Honestly, most of us are introverts. Most of us. And a few of us are ambivert - I kind of fall in that ambivert category… But even then, the introvert part of me, after I've basically spent an entire day talking to people - I just wanna crawl into a hole somewhere. Don't bother me for the next two hours, because I need to recoup. So you kind of have to pace yourself if you fall in that category, if you have to manage your energy level a little bit… And I think you really get a good sense of what that looks like towards the end of day one.
So definitely pace yourself… It's hard to say "Don't be overwhelmed", because that's sometimes outside of your control, but basically take it in in strides a little bit and give yourself permission to be overwhelmed… But then take a step back and if you need to step outside the conference venue to catch your breath or whatever it is, please, do it. I'd rather you get the most out of it, keep your energy levels up and get the most out of the experience than sort of burning out… Because you actually could burn out in those 2-3 days if you're not careful.
[00:24:20.05] Oh yeah, it's tough. Again, I agree with Johnny. I often go back to my hotel room in the afternoon - usually in the afternoon break - for a couple hours and just sit in the dark watching something on Netflix for an hour… Just trying to recenter and refocus my energy again before I go back out and do it all over again. It's a lot. Have you ever been to any conferences before, Jamal?
I have, but I'm completely new to the entire gopher community. It's not my first conference, but I never thought I'd be attending a GopherCon conference. And maybe just to speak on the perspective of somebody who's just coming into the community and seeing it, all the hard work you guys are putting in… The first thing is I'm coming from a C++ background, and C++ conferences are not as fun, and there aren't as many opportunities… There's almost a rigid stance on things, and it's very hard to integrate and fall into that.
I didn't even know there is a possibility of getting scholarships to come to GopherCon, or even partial scholarships… But Carmen was the one who probably taught me the most. I did Go as a hobby for a few years, and just followed the community, I read a lot of the stuff that you guys write… And it was my fun language, man; it was what I programmed in for fun. It wasn't what I did for a living. I got on Twitter and I was completely new, and it was the talk that Carmen made in 2017, the keynote speech at GothamGo, "The Legacy of Go."
Yeah, that was the one that kind of – because it's one thing to know how amazing a technology is, but until you know of the community or you know of some people in there you don't feel like you're a part of it. You're always on the exterior and never think that there's a pathway to get into it… But Carmen's talk really just was amazing. And I remember writing a comment under it when it was first uploaded, like "Thank you, Carmen. This is so important" etc. Then a year goes by and I'm like "You know what, I'm gonna see what's up, let me get on Twitter", and one of the first people I connected with was Carmen… And she really made me feel welcome in the community, and kind of gave me a perspective that I needed… And that is probably the reason why I'm still doing Go. I actually have a job now as a Go developer, which I still don't believe – I get to use the language that I love and get paid for it.
So it feels good to be in the community and to be working in the community, and to feel a part of it. And I didn't even know there was a diversity scholarship. I didn't know if there's any scholarships at all, but through Twitter and you guys retweeting that, I was like "What?! I can apply?" Sure, and it's been Christmas since, man; I'm excited to come.
So as someone new coming into all of this, the one thing I keep seeing in this community is that the more known someone is, or I guess the more famous they are within the community, the more accessible they are. It's almost like an inverted pyramid - people that you think are inaccessible, you can communicate with. I'll send them a DM and I get a response back, and I'm not used to that… Like "This person is pretty busy…" [laughs]
I talked to Bill a few times via Twitter, he's been amazing. Brian has been amazing. There's just been a lot of amazing people who just have answered really silly questions, and I've been allowed to ask them, and it's been amazing, so I appreciate that. But I'm excited… I'm excited, and there's probably a lot of other questions I have.
One of the things was like – I forgot that it's gonna be recorded. Now I'm attending it, I'm like "Man, if I miss it, if I don't pick it up… It's different." But then I forget - it's gonna be uploaded two weeks later, and it's not the end of the world.
[00:28:00.16] Something like that, yeah. So let me ask you - are you gonna be around on the last day, the community day?
I am. I have not signed up for any workshops yet. I've got a partial scholarship, so I'm still thinking about the benefits of attending. I know there's benefits, but cost-benefit, cost for the ticket to attend, and all that.
Well, the last day is called community day, and that's part of the conference.
Bill happens to have an extra workshop that day, but that's an exception. So community day has a lot going on. I can talk about a few bits of it, but I actually get shanghai-ed; I don't get to actually see much of community day. So I run the lightning talks every year, and those are on community day. We have about three dozen talks throughout the day; seven minutes a talk, so you can imagine, three dozen speakers - it's quite the event… And they also all get professionally recorded, just like full-stage conference talks, and those are also up a few weeks later.
So that's an all-day thing, and there are some really amazing talks this years. I recommend the lightning talks. What's awesome about them is people go from there to the main stage, and it's just really nice to see that. It really is a mini-conference, so I obviously would recommend checking that out.
Ron Evans does a hardware hack thing all day… So if you don't see Ron at the conference, that's because he's probably in a room somewhere, assemblying Mark Bates-killing drones of some sort. [laughter] It's true. But he spends a whole day doing – he gets companies like Intel or whatever give him all sorts of hardware to bring with him all sorts of hardware to bring with him… You know, processors and all sorts of stuff. He spends all day teaching people how to program hardware. He gives out tons of hardware to everybody who attends… I've never met anybody who said they had a bad time at Ron's hardware hackfest. I don't think it's possible either, and he's just… He's just a hoot. He really is. He's an awesome human being.
And then I only learned about this on Monday, but I guess there's a roundtable hack area, and they're gonna have 56 roundtables set up, with sign-ups. So you can go and either sign up and say "I'm gonna run a little table on my project", or "I'm gonna run a table where I'm gonna teach people how to use Go modules… And drink." I'm just kidding. [laughter] "We'll have a little table…", or whatever. Or you can come in and be like "Oh, there's a table on Go modules. Let me go and find out more about that", and you can sit down and join that group. That also happens on the community day, I guess. Johnny, what else happens on the community day?
It's also worth noting that a lot of people who actually work on Go itself, the language itself, are gonna be there… So this is an opportunity to talk to them, ask them some of the behind-the-scenes discussions that go on; they might not be able to tell you a whole lot, but you'll get some insight into the process of deciding from somebody who's on the team - what makes it in, how do they make decisions, that kind of thing. So if this is something that's interesting to you, if you're a language geek, this is the perfect opportunity to meet these people and talk to them.
There's opportunities to contribute to – last year there was a workshop for actually getting you to commit something to the Go project itself. So if you wanted to be a Go contributor, this would be the perfect way of actually going through the process of setting up, getting everything ready to go kind of thing, and then basically being able to commit something.
We actually had somebody from the core team approving PRs. Brad Fitzpatrick was one of the people approving PRs. He approved one of my and I was like "Whaat…?!" That was exciting. Things like that… And again, making the community more approachable.
Are they doing that again this year?
I don't know if they are.
It's listed on the agenda.
Is it? Oh, we should probably look at the agenda. [laughter] We probably think we already know it all, yeah.
[00:31:57.28] Yeah, so it says from 10 AM to 12 PM they're doing the contributor workshop, and then later on in the day is when they're doing the fireside chat/panel, where they take questions and talk to the community about Go, and that sort of stuff.
Okay. We have to definitely look at that.
These are awesome opportunities, year. And again, Jamal, as you were saying - I can't thank you enough for actually saying that on air… Because this is something that I think the Go community goes out of its way to actually do - to be approachable, to be welcoming, to say "Hey, we know you're a newbie, you're on the outside looking in perhaps, and you're wondering when is a good time to come in, when should you try…" Maybe you've been sort of lurking a little bit and wondering "Am I gonna have an opportunity? When is my chance to make a connection and sort of join the community, be part of the community." This is it.
We go out of our way as a community to make you feel welcome; we welcome newcomers, we welcome newbies… So this is something that I think everybody needs to hear - the Go community is a safe place for beginners, it's a safe place for newbies. Even if you don't know Go, you're gonna hang out with gophers and start to pick up some knowledge, some tidbits about what it's like to do Go, what it's like to be a part of this community…
This is not just about the language, this is not just about the technology. If that was it, then you could go do any other tech you want. The community plays a central role in the language and in its life. We value community tremendously here, so… Please, if you're like Jamal and you're thinking "When's my opening…?", you don't need an opening. Just go meet somebody. Trust me, go and say hi and that's it. That's really all you need to do. Just go and say hi.
Yeah, and most of us have stickers.
What really blew my mind was – when I first got on Twitter, I was reading some blog posts and some books and all that, and I kept on seeing Brad's name just come up. "Thank you, Brad, for all the help", blah-blah-blah. I was like "Who's this guy?" and I looked him up, found him on Twitter, and I think I sent him a message at like 3 in the morning… "Hey, I saw that you keep being mentioned in all these books. Thanks for what you've done for the Go community." And then like two seconds later he sent me a few sentences back. It blew my mind that he was awake at that time and he replied… [laughs]
He's got two very small children, so they keep him up probably anyway… [laughter] When I first met Brad was at the very first GopherCon; I was taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel, and while I was waiting for the taxi at the airport I was talking to another guy up in one HTML shirt. We started chatting, we realized we realized we're going to the conference, so we shared a cab.
And we were in the cab, and he's saying "So do you use Go?" I said, "Well, a little bit, here and there", whatever. "What about you?" "I use it daily." "Oh, okay." Anyway, we were talking, "So what's your name?" "Brad", whatever… And we keep talking, and then later on we're still talking, and I'm like "So where do you work?" He goes "Google." "Are you Brad Fitzpatrick?" "Oh, god…" [laughter]
So I spent 30 minutes in the car with him asking him if he writes Go, too. [laughter] "What's your favorite part?" He was super-cool. He's such a great guy. They all are. Everybody really is very nice. Johnny does have it right. I think this is a community that rewards nice people.
I think it also says a lot that pretty much the entire Go team is at GopherCon, or it feels like the entire Go team is there, and they want to get feedback from people. You hear people say "Oh, Go is Google's language" or something like that - they don't have to be there, they don't have to go out of their way to be accessible and to make all that happen, but they do… And I think that speaks volumes as to why the language itself is as open as it is, and inclusive - they're sort of setting that example.
Yeah. There will definitely be a lot of people… I'm looking at the Go team community room on the last day; like you said, there's a contributor workshop from 10 to 12, where you can learn how to contribute to Go directly.
[00:35:52.23] Then at 1:30 to 3 there's Grow In Go, which is kind of like a fireside chat panel with the Go leadership and team, and then the closing… So it looks like there's a whole day where you can hang out with the team, talk to the team, get to know them… Again, like Johnny said, most of the team is gonna be there, plus a large contingent of community contributors to Go as well. There's usually a contributor summit that happens at the conference as well… So there'll be a lot of both core team and contributors just wandering the halls, all week, and you can absolutely chat to any of them. They will love to chat with you. I'm just volunteering everybody.
I will definitely go to that day, and bug everybody, and introduce myself again.
Yes. And you should absolutely – if everybody's listening, they should absolutely introduce themselves to Mat Ryer as well. Yes, you absolutely have to meet Mat Ryer… And meet him daily, because he has – I've found at conferences, especially like Denver, California, he tends to forget things sometimes… So let's just hammer Mat with hellos the entire time.
[laughs] He's gonna thank you for this, Mark.
Yeah, I know, right? It's also Tim Raymond’s birthday next week while we're out there, so everybody say hi to him, too.
Nice, nice. Looking forward to seeing Tim.
So you were talking about community day, with the lightning talks. For anybody who's unfamiliar, can you tell them what's the difference between regular talks/lightning talks, and why they should care about one over the other? Not necessarily over the other, but you know… [laughter]
Well, thankfully we don't have any sort of collision in terms of that… It's really "Why would you come to the lightning talks and not go to a play with hardware with Ron?" That's the thing I'm always competing against. That's fun.
So the lightning talks - again, for those of you who don't know, they're seven minutes long; we have between 30 and three dozen speakers. The variety of people talking is just insane, and they cover all these different topics. A lot of times they're fun, and sometimes they're silly… For example, one year Sharon Allsup gave a talk on roasting your own coffee beans. It was really fun. One year someone did a talk about a dead man's switch, using their iPhone as a dead man's switch on their computer… And they hacked it all and they did it all in Go, and at 6:59, right before I pulled them off the stage, he yanked the core, the whole screen went dead, and that was the end of his demo. It was awesome. So there's all these great things that happen.
You usually get like Ramya Rao (sorry, Ramya)… She writes the Go plugin for VS Code. She usually gives a lightning talk every year, and she's giving one this year… So that's always a great place to hear what's upcoming for things like VS Code. I know Florin from JetBrains who works on the Goland IDE - he's also giving a talk… So there's all these really just interesting talks from people from all around the world, with all just interesting perspectives.
[00:40:13.04] Some of them are "Hey, I wrote this cool thing. I just wanna show it." Some are "This is my company. I just wanna show it." [laughter] Those are a little less interesting… And then some are just like "I've found this weird issue, this weird bug, this hack… Watch me do something terrible with Go, than you should never do…" So there's always fun stuff there, and it's a fun day. And if you don't like the talk, there's a great chance that seven minutes later you might like the next one. So you're not sitting there for 45 minutes or half hour, just being like "Oh my god, will this person stop talking…?" You're there for 7 minutes.
They're not all winners. They can't be, statistically… But there's plenty of diversity and interest there I think for everybody who wants to attend.
And seven minutes is a very short amount of time.
It really is.
Yeah. I did one last year, and boy - I didn't see the time coming. But it was fun, though.
Most people don't. [laughter]
That's always weird, where like - in high school you have to talk about a subject you don't care about, and filling three minutes is awful. Then you get to talk about something you care about, and you're like "Wait, seven minutes are up? I need way more time."
Yeah, it's true. I absolutely love the lightning talks. I wouldn't keep running them every year if I didn't. We've just got some really great people come through. And like I said, it's lovely to see them start; a lot of people start on that stage now, and are migrating to the bigger stages in the main conference, and that's just awesome to see… And I love that we get to do that.
So if you wanna see the next Brad Fitzpatrick, or the next Johnny, or the next Carmen, the lightning talks may be for you. How's that sales pitch?
Very nice. Actually, Heather Sullivan, the person we've been referencing as being the primary organizer for the conference - she's pretty awesome - she's mentioned that there would be whiteboards spread throughout the community day, at the edges on the tables and whatnot…
That roundtable section we were talking about…
Right, exactly. So if you've got a topic that you wanna go up there and put on the board, you can find other people who are also interested in that, and you can sit at a roundtable or two and hack on whatever that thing is together. So it's a way of identifying your tribe, if you will… Say "Hey, I'm into dependency management." Or maybe you go to the modules table.
Because who isn't…?
Who isn't, right? [laughter]
Who wouldn't wanna hang out there all day?
Right. So there's tons of opportunities for that stuff.
I'd also probably mention that even if you feel like your skills aren't up the snuff, don't worry about that. You can learn so much just by sitting with other people. I've been fascinated by people who feel like they aren't very good at Go. I've learned things from them. Stuff like that happens all the time, where you just see other people's approaches… So don't worry about being an impostor or something crazy like that; people are all very welcoming. Just have a good time. At least I feel like the Go community has always been that way.
They absolutely are. That's why I love going to these things. I don't know it all, none of us do. I have learned about packages, and libraries, and tools, and just endless – I don't have a CS degree, so whenever I'm in big brain land with all these CS people, I just try to suck in as much as I possibly can from them, and learn what I don't know. We all have our areas of specialty. Jamal, I'm sure you could tell us some stuff… For example, I have never done C++ a day in my life. I would be all thumbs. I couldn't even tell you how to compile it. So just because you're a newbie in Go doesn't mean you don't have anything to offer anybody else… And that's obviously not just for you, Jamal, but that's for everybody.
[00:44:00.17] Just because you're new to the conference or the community doesn't mean you're not useful or welcome or have knowledge to offer. Thankfully, lightning talks, like you said, are a great way of helping people show that they can do that… But you should know that you can, and know that not all of us – no one does, right? But even those of us who have been there since day one of the conferences, for example… I don't know. Ask me how the garbage collector works; I have no idea.
Yeah, we value outside perspective. Personally, I enjoy hearing about those stories. People are who coming to Go, or if sometimes they're coming to programming in general and Go happens to be their first language - I absolutely love these people, because I really get to shape and mold them, if you will… But you know, you have people who are coming from other programming languages, so they bring their own ideas and dealing with certain things, and sometimes you engage in a little debate with them. "Well, I'm used to doing things that way." "Well, this is why we don't do this very thing that way in Go", kind of thing. So you get a chance to get some outside perspective. And a lot of times we're like "Hey, that would be kind of cool in Go."
These conversations actually do end up bubbling up into possible proposals that the Go core team ends up evaluating and deciding whether that's something they should consider or not. Generics is a prime example of that. A lot of people are saying "Hey, we need generics in Go. We need generics in Go." A lot of people made up a case for it, and it's something that's being evaluated. Again, the perspective that somebody's gonna bring that is from outside of the Go community is tremendously valued, and it's welcomed.
I've come to learn that – most of my development is done by myself, and as a result, the type of development I do is very different, or what works in my code doesn't necessarily work on a company that has 1,000 engineers. It's vastly different. So just getting that perspective and seeing how they do stuff, and learning from them… And vice-versa - they might say "Oh, you can prototype stuff way quicker than me. Let me see how you're doing that", and learn some stuff there. So just knowing that everybody comes from a different background, and that's a good thing… Conferences are an awesome spot to learn all that stuff.
I don't know if we ever mentioned this, but the scholarships, I guess - it's a little bit too late for this year, but I do think that's something worth mentioning for the future - GopherCon does offer scholarships; so if you're considering going and for some reason it's not something you can do, definitely check that out, get in touch and ask about it… Because the goal of the conferences isn't to exclude people, it's to get anybody and everybody there.
Last week Heather had a story that I don't think got recorded, unfortunately, but we got to talk about how there were some people that literally went to a Go conference and it made a huge difference in their career and in their life. That's what we're looking to – or I think that's what they're looking to; I guess I am not technically doing that, because I'm not there… But you know, it's one of those really positive things.
I think a lot of people just see conference and think "I can't go. I don't have the money, I don't have the means to make it there", and that shouldn't be what holds you back.
You can look at going to a conference – and hopefully, an employer pays for you to be there, and if you have any other ways of actually getting there and you're privileged enough to actually be in that room, I highly encourage it… Consider it as an investment in your own career and in your own future.
I remember going to my very first GopherCon. Actually, Mark was right there, sitting next to me, and we were looking up on stage and seeing Bill amongst a bunch of other well-known speakers do their thing… So we were like "Yeah, this Go thing is for us." We enjoy the language, it seems like the community is growing around it, so right then and there we decided "Hey, this was worth the time and investing energy into it."
Fast-forward a few years later, pretty much that's what we do now. We do Go full-time, and we are part of the Go community, and a lot of us basically have businesses that have sprouted out of being involved in the Go community… It's really an investment possibly in your future, and this is why I say "Hey, when you go to the conference, don't forget to actually network." You're not just going for the content; you can watch the content later anyways. So don't forget to actually network and get to know people.
[00:48:13.08] Yeah. Like we talked about earlier, there's all sorts of events for that built in, like the welcome party, and community day, and all sorts of other stuff… But there are other events as well, aren't there, Johnny?
Yes. One of my favorites that's actually going to happen this year is the GoBridge reception. I think that's happening on Thursday evening. So if you are a person who's considered under-represented in the Go community, and/or have helped put together a GoBridge event or a workshop or a scholarship of some kind, we absolutely encourage you to come and participate. This is our way of saying "Hey, we're part of this subgroup within the Go community that basically cares deeply about diversity and inclusion and really making the Go community welcome for people from under-represented groups." We'd love to get together and talk shop, talk about "Okay, this is the impact we're having. This is how we can make things better." Ideas come out of such events, so I absolutely encourage folks… Even if you've never heard of GoBridge and wanna understand what it is and what it's about, and you think you can help, we absolutely would love to have you. It's absolutely something that I'd highly recommend.
Yeah. And if you're looking for ways to help with the scholarship fund as well, at the conference themselves GopherCon kind of sells their old swag from previous years, as well as the current year… So any money - you can go there and you can buy old GopherCon swag, T-shirts and the like… And they usually have tons of toys and stuff left over because they have to buy them at 5,000 units, so there's always toys kicking about. You can buy all those, and all that money goes to the GopherCon scholarship fund as well.
Then GoBridge, and Women Who Go… Heather says "So many toys!" There really are. And GoBridge and Women Who Go also offer ways to help, as well. I know next week you'll see me wearing all Women Who Go T-shirts. I bought six from the Women Who Go Threadless store, all beautiful Ashley McNamara designs, so you'll see me in a different Women Who Go T-shirt every day next week as well at the conference… And that money, again, goes to help the GoBridge scholarship, in that particular case. There's a lot, and last year GopherCon raised $17,000 for scholarships… So it'd be awesome if we can raise more.
That'd be pretty cool.
It would be pretty cool, yeah.
This is why Mark has to bring a second bag… [laughter]
No, not for cash… For all the stuff he buys.
[laughs] For cash…? What do you think I'm doing, Johnny? "Yeah, everybody, give to the GoBridge fund. It all goes in this special bag I brought." [laughs]
Mark's telling everybody "Yeah, live on air, I'm gonna be bringing a big suitcase full of cash."
All of a sudden Mark Bates turned into a grifter on the air. I'm not quite sure how that happened. [laughter] But seriously, there's so many – and Bill is giving a post-con workshop, which we've talked about a few times… And 20k of those proceedings has gone to the GoBridge Foundation already.
So the GopherCon team really wants to help in any way they can, and obviously they need your help to help as well, so buy that swag. Support any of these community efforts, whether it be through GoBridge, or through GopherCon itself, because they care, and we care, and we should all care… I'm sorry, that's my passionate little speech. I'll shy off to the corner now.
[00:51:51.14] Somebody had mentioned in Slack that I believe there's a pre-party meetup, but I don't know if – is that before GopherCon entirely? I know that at a lot of conferences different local meetups will tend to try to have a meetup the day before the conference… So if you happen to be in the area early, look around for those.
I think that's the San Diego Gophers, it looks like on Tuesday the 23rd… That's the day before the workshops. And I guess Cosmos is also hosting a sort of mixer party thing as well. Let's see… There are a couple of sponsors that are hosting, one Tuesday and one Wednesday. Wednesday is Cosmos. They're gonna be holding some sort of a mixer-mingly thing here. Then yeah, a meetup on Wednesday, and I don't know what the other one is, because Heather hasn't finished typing it to me yet.
Just check those out though. If you ever go to a conference, especially GopherCon, I feel like it's pretty common for people to do some sort of meetup, and it's another chance to meet people.
Oh, and wework is hosting something on their place that’s she thinks on Friday. So when you show up next week, just keep your evenings free… Let's just put it that way.
They're all tweeting; just look at everybody and just make a decision and say "I'm going to all these things." It's overwhelming to go to every one, but if you really wanna make the most out of your conference, meeting people and networking… I feel like we've been harping on this for an hour now, right?
Yeah. It's important.
But it's important. It's why you go to a conference, and those events are great places to do it… So try to get to as many as you can. If it means taking a small nap after the conference before you go out, then take a small nap and get yourself geared up and go back out. Grab a coffee and do it, it's worth it.
Oh, there are also groups. There's usually a running group at GopherCon every year…
That's right, yeah. Early morning run.
Yeah. And I guess there are other groups in the GopherCon channel, like photography, and stuff like that, and people are already starting to organize dinners together, and stuff like that. You should really follow the GopherCon Slack channel if you're looking to already start making some of those connections.
I feel like I'd have to go and make the "Anything BUT early morning run group." [laughter] I don't mind running, I just don't like early morning runs.
My wife has been running a half-marathon in every state, and she's up to 20, including Washington DC… And I'll go with her sometimes, and I'll still be sound asleep when she gets back. She'll go run 13.1 miles somewhere, come back and I'll still be sleeping. So yeah… Not for me.
I forgot one thing… The Gopher Guides program. I can't believe we forgot that.
Oh, I think it's just called The Guides.
Is it The Guides program? Okay…
There's a name collision with Gopher Guides, and that was more our fault than Andy's.
Yeah, actually I never thought about that. Good thing, thank you for bringing that up. So the guides program - Andy Walker, another known community member, basically runs this program for first-time attendees. So if you're really shy - or even if you're not; even if you just want an anchor you can always go back to and say "Hey, I've attended these talks and I'm not quite sure which other talks to go to next", or "I'm not quite sure what I should do now. Should I go to this event, or that event?" Usually, the guides are sort of tethered into the community; they know what's gonna be more suitable for you when you compare a couple of things… Like "Hey, I know you value X, Y and Z, so this event or this talk is gonna be more suitable for you than this other one."
Somebody who actually knows what would be more appropriate for you based on your needs for attending the conference, basically these people can be your guides and provide some of that insight that's gonna make sure you get the most out of the conference as possible. That should be available, I think –
I have some details.
You have some details? Please, yeah…
I have details. So again, like previous years, the Guides program is hosted by Andy, who's just an awesome person; you should really get to know Andy, because he's a lovely guy…
Yeah, he's my co-organizer for Baltimore Go, so I know him quite well.
Well, there you go then. Yeah. I wasn't saying YOU should meet him…
[laughs] Don't start with me.
Anyway… So the gathering for the Guides program is at the hallway tracks table, which is on the lower level of the space. There'll be signage when you get there. So since this is gonna air on Tuesday, which is when everybody is in the air, going to GopherCon - so we're gonna air while we're in the air - just a few things to know… I guess all of the conference activities are gonna be in the North Tower, on the Grand and Pacific levels, according to Heather, and the Gopher – not the Gopher Guides program… [laughter] Gopher Guides is an amazing training company, who would love to help you with your Go learning needs.
Did you like that? The Guides program however I guess is meeting on the Pacific level. So yeah… I think – are we out of time?
We're pretty much there.
Oh, and I just wanna say - Heather is promising the best Wi-Fi ever this year. She promises.
That's a tall order, Heather…
It's brave, because I know how technology works… There'll be like no Wi-Fi at all.
And here you go - this will really help the Wi-Fi sing in the hotel. Apparently, it's complementary Wi-Fi in the guestrooms.
Yeah… I would do your downloads before you get there. [laughter] I don't think they know what's coming. I would definitely download anything you want before you get to San Diego. If you have 1,200 gophers in one hotel, sharing free Wi-Fi, it's over. Game over.
Yeah, yeah. It's gonna be a crawl.
You think…? [laughs]
Well, awesome. I'm excited. I'm very excited for this year. It's gonna be a good time.
Yes, best ever.
Like it always is. It really is.
Yeah, it gets better every year. That's what I'd say.
Honestly, you're right. Johnny, you can say it with me, we've both been to every one… It truly has gotten better every single year. Heather and the team at Convention Designs really listen and care, and when the community speaks up about something, they jump at it. We didn't even get a chance to talk about the food, for example, at GopherCon, which is usually outstanding. They just bring in some of the best – I do believe you should always go out at least once for lunch, get out of the space… But if you're there, the food is truly spectacular. It's not brown bag, conference box lunches. It is proper food. They also have vegan, kosher/halal stations… They really try to cater to everybody, and really try to make it a special time for everybody. They do amazing work.
If you see Heather - she'll be rolling around on her scooter, probably yelling at me. But if you see her, just say hi and say thank you for all the hard work she does… Because she does so much. She really does.
If you can't recognize her, she'll probably be the boss-looking lady, running around and making sure everything is going off without a hitch.
Oh, apparently they don't have the segways this year. In Denver they had segways, so you'd always hear zipping around, a red hair behind – she said she'll be riding her broom this year. [laughter] Oh, Heather, we love you.
Okay, I think that's all we've got time for, isn't it? I'd love to do this in person next week.
Alright, thank you for joining us. That's it for Go Time.
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚