Nine Talks Lodged in My Brain

A colleague and I were discussing technical conferences recently. They submitted that most of the conferences are not that helpful knowledge-wise. I disagreed. Based on my experience, conferences can be a fantastic source of knowledge. But it depends on the conference and how the participant approaches it.

My go-to example of a conference that greatly impacted me is LeadDev. I’ve attended four of their conferences in London, including the first one ever. They helped me grow as a leader and broadened my thinking in various ways.

(my number two example occupies three of the nine places on the list below)

But even before LeadDev, I was a fan of technical conferences. But I used to watch most of the talks online. There were a couple of years in my life when watching conference recordings was my go-to while doing boring stuff at home (cooking, cleaning, exercising, etc.). That changed now with the explosion of podcasts and the existence of Audible.

But some conference talks remain lodged in my brain. And while books and podcasts are great, a well-constructed conference talk narrative can distinctly affect a listener. Below, I list nine conference talks that significantly impacted me and, I believe, are still worth watching today.

Rich Hickey - Simple Made Easy (Strange Loop, 2011)

Dan McKinley - Choose Boring Technology (Velocity, 2015)

Zach Holman - How GitHub Uses GitHub to Build GitHub (Ruby Midwest, 2011)

Joshua Bloch - How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters (Google Tech Talks, 2007)

Joe Armstrong - The Mess We’re In (Strange Loop, 2014)

John Carmack - The Physics of Light and Rendering (QuakeCon, 2013)

Nickolas Means - How to Crash an Airplane (LeadDev, 2016)

Emery Berger - Performance Matters (Strange Loop, 2019)

(I haven’t yet visited Strange Loop in person, despite holding the conference in very high regard)

Gary Bernhardt - wat (CodeMash, 2012)

Each of these talks, in its unique way, has offered me invaluable insights or just pure entertainment. I highly recommend giving them a watch.