Let’s confer!

When I think about the conferences I’ve attended over the years and which ones have been the most fun to attend and most rewarding, I keep coming up with a few things that tie my favorite experiences together. One of the things that stick out immediately is that the good ones have all included a great deal of conferring for real, not only sitting down listening to speakers and then moving on to the next session. Most conferences I’ve attended have had precious little time for questions and answers after the talk and more than once I’ve felt that that was a shame. Many times I’ve been able to do something about this, catching a speaker in the hallway at the conference and tagging along for coffee and talking. This has many times led to me meeting other people, speakers and/or delegates that have been great contributors to the discussions. We have conferred and I believe that should be the focus of any conference. The one way communication of listening to a talk is hardly ever as good as the discussions and trading of ideas and challenging each other’s ideas that take place when a group of engaged people get together.

Another thing that I’ve found the good experiences have in common is meeting new people and expanding my network. It’s both exhilarating and humbling being accepted into groups and networks of skilled fellow testers and for me it’s been a great way to learn.

These are the things that stand out most to me in my conference experiences. The discussions and conferring hasn’t always happened at the conference but later in the evening over a pint or two at some pub. Those discussions and the networking have been very important to me in my growth as a tester.

When I discovered the context-driven school of testing, I guess about 5 or 6 years ago, I didn’t start jumping up and down or turning cart-wheels across the floor. I just looked at the basic principles published by James Bach and Cem Kaner, leaned back in my chair and thought: Nice, somebody has actually put a name on the way I view testing; and to be honest, the way I view life in general. It wasn’t a great revelation but it was very nice to see the basic concepts neatly put down with a name attached to them. It also felt great knowing that there were a lot of people out there who shared my views but I wasn’t that surprised since I didn’t really believe I was alone.

I want to see these things at the front of Let’s Test – The Context-Driven Way in Stockholm in May 2012, interesting people, speakers as well as delegates, getting together and talking, challenging each other, learning and moving the craft forward. When the idea for a Swedish/European context-driven themed conference saw the light of day, it was actually dark and a late evening in the beautiful archipelago outside Gothenburg and we were at the peer conference SWET 2. Our idea was to have a conference that gave everyone the opportunity to participate in discussions and an opportunity to contribute, very much like a peer conference. We all wanted that and we all agreed that there are a lot of testers out there that we haven’t met that we would love to meet and learn from. So come on over! Let’s confer! Let’s learn!

I hope that this is only the first context-driven conference in Europe and that more will follow. At this moment in time we want this first Let’s Test conference to be successful and then we can focus on what the next step could be. I hope that this can be the seed that begets a strong, growing and flourishing context-driven community in Europe that gets together and drives the craft of testing forward on a regular basis. I hope you will join us and bring your experiences to the table or just join in and see what we’re so excited about. Test is fun, so Let’s Test!

Ola Hyltén – Conference Chair

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