Strange Loop 2014
September 29, 2014
I went to a tech conference called Strange Loop last week. It takes place once a year in Saint Louis, Missouri, and features talks by the creators and earliest users of cutting-edge technologies. I've heard that the technologies you learn about at Strange Loop are those that people will be using widely in a couple of years. Strange Loop is a way to explore this exciting future.
This was my very first tech conference, and I had an amazing time! I overloaded my brain with talks about new and mind-bending technologies, and I met more brilliant people than I can count.
I could go on and on for a very long time about all that I enjoyed at Strange Loop. I'll try to confine everything within a few bullet points.
- The City Museum! Strange Loop rented out the entirety of Saint Louis's quirkiest attraction for a night. I had a great time climbing around in the museum's otherworldly structures with fellow Strange Loop attendees.
- Amazing Strange Loop talks. A short list of those that were most inspiring to me:
- Nashorn: implementing a dynamic language runtime on the JVM by Attila Szegedi. He talked about the process of getting a dynamically typed language to compile into JVM bytecode. My favorite phrase from the talk is definitely Unwarranted Optimism Exception.
- Art.js: Transfigure Data to Create 21st Century Art by Sarah Groff-Palermo. She inspired me to think more creatively about data - that it can be used not just to make highly structured presentations, but also art - and all in code.
- Democratizing Hardware by Chris Williams. As a result of this talk, I've added "small NodeBot project" to my list of To-Do's.
- You can be a kernel hacker! by Julia Evans. Hilarious and informative, all at once! Offered great advice for learning how to dig deeper into Linux OS code.
- The Strange Loop Keynotes. Joe Armstrong talked about "the mess we're in": how we've gotten ourselves into a trench of bloated code and complexity, and how computers have more possible states than the number of atoms in gajillions of universes. Nada Amin talked about venturing into "meta-levels" with a reflective programming language called Black. Stephen Wolfram talked about the new Wolfram programming language. And, to wrap it up, a group of speakers delivered the final keynote as a robot dance party. Catchy music and dancing hardware, all powered by Clojure.
I attended Strange Loop with the help of a diversity scholarship. Many very generous individuals and companies contributed to the scholarship pool - and enabled Strange Loop to dramatically increase the percent of minority attendees.
To those generous people:
THANK YOU! This experience meant so much to me! Not just for all that I learned, but also for the rare opportunity to see diversity in technology. And, rarer still, for the opportunity to see people from diverse backgrounds giving talks and being leaders in the industry. I feel revitalized and inspired. I can't wait to pay this experience forward.