March 4, 2013

Today was my tuning in day to the Scandinavian Developer's Conference and a chance to meet up with some old friends and be ignored by some old self-appointed foes!  The main lecture theatre was only a quarter full even with all streams assembled for the keynote at the start of the day and it was even worse for track sessions.  More suitable for a United National Assembly meeting with a tall stage adding to the distancing from the audience. I'm not looking forward to my session tomorrow in consequence.  The non 'techie' tracks (and I am on one called Leadership) are not the most popular anyway so its going to be like talking to an echo chamber, no intimacy and probably little feedback.   Maybe curtain off a section if needed or something similar next year as otherwise its a good venue.  

My big concern was the general lack of awareness of context and attempt to define universals from the particular.  The opening keynote had the general theme of I'm from Silicon Valley please buy my services to copy what we did.  Now its a common theme, find something successful and imitate it.  Personally I am increasingly convinced that what happens in Silicon Valley should stay in Silicon Valley.  Their model works in the historical context of Valley culture and its open to people from around the world to use.  Whether it can port to Europe without substantial modification is another matter, and remember it gave us the dot com boom as well as the good stuff.  Unconstrained fastbuckitus  is not what the world needs at the moment.  

We had a similar pattern in other presentations  with questions like “What is the right size for a team” to which we got the answer “Six”.  What type of team?  What type of context?   Mind you the session where that happened was one of the most disappointing.  I had looked forward to hearing Bob Marshall on the subject of Fellowship.  OK I know I am not his favourite person being on a long and honourable list of people he blocks from following him on twitter (an action which is a bit at odds of his advocacy of non-violent communication), but I respect his writing and thinking.   All we got was 35 minutes of the audience talking about teams as teams, then all bar five minutes of the remaining time was each team reporting back on the same platitudes about common purpose and the like.  The only thing we got from Bob was a statement that the Fellowship of the Ring had no leaders.  Now that is plainly not the case.  After it forms Gandalf is given the leadership by Elrond and its Gandalf and Aragon who make the decision to enter the mines without consultation.   Its only when the fellowship breaks up that this changes, although Aragon remains leader of one group, Merry and Pippin are captives and Frodo is the “master”.  Please, we deserve better.

The other issue I tweeted about was the apparent need for people describing practice to validate what is common sense with loosely collated factoids from natural science.  We got the left-right rational/emotional nonsense for example.  Cherry picking the science that supports your ideology is always dangerous.  I did start to think that the non-techie tracks would have been better run as a mini-conference in their own right with management invited from the firms sending their development teams.   It does need thinking about.   Either way I am probably going to over compensate on content tomorrow!

The picture by the way is the statue of Evert Taube described in WIkipedia as the foremost troubadour of the Swedish ballad tradition in the 20th century.  

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