From Community Building to Video Game Development: What We Learned from the Abstractions II Conference

From August 23rd to 25th, the SocketLabs team traveled to Pittsburgh, PA for Abstractions II, a cross-discipline software conference. With three full days of speakers and engagement, there was almost too much to choose from.

Abstractions was a great experience for our team. We chose to sponsor Abstractions because of the inclusive nature of the conference and the wide variety of sessions spanning across many diverse topics.  We were happy to see more than just cutting-edge technical sessions (although there were plenty of those too!). In addition to exhibiting at the SocketLabs booth, our team was able to attend several of these unique sessions. Some of the sessions attended include:

  • How to Build a Community from Scratch (While Conquering Social Anxiety) by Liz Krane (@LearningNerd).  In this session, Liz spoke about how she started hosting coding meetups as a way of making new friends, which has always been a challenge due to her social anxiety. The meetups have grown from a few dedicated members to a large diverse community and Liz shared the lessons she learned along the way as well as how her own social anxiety improved as a result of putting herself out there.
  • Game Development in Eight Bits by Kevin Zurawel. In this talk, Kevin gave a brief overview of the NES hardware and the limitations that this imposed on game developers. He went on to describe some of the many creative workarounds that NES developers in the late 1980’s and early 90’s came up with in order to fit as much content as possible into their games while still working within these strict limitations.
  • Those Who Can Do Should Also Teach by Ali Spittel (@ASpittel). In this talk, Ali spoke about the different benefits gained by teaching others what you know. Beyond just helping others, it is a great way to improve your own knowledge on a particular subject. Ali also went into detail about how people learn in many different ways, so there is always room for more teachers and teaching styles.
  • Pass the Torch and Drop the Ball: Lessons in Documenting Your Work by Mary Thengvall (@mary_grace) and Rain Leander (@rainleander). In this session, Mary and Rain talked about the importance of documenting your work throughout the process, rather than just waiting until you need to do a “knowledge dump.” Having ongoing documentation about your work (such as day-to-day tasks, processes, and other duties) is useful when you leave a job or take on a new position, but it is also important for many other reasons. It allows others to help you when the workload becomes too much, or to step in and help out if you need to take an extended or unexpected absence from work.
  • An Unforgettable Developer Experience (DX) by Guillermo Rauch (@rauchg). Guillermo described what he considers to be some of the most important factors to providing a good developer experience. These principals can be applied to API design, open source libraries, or any other products that developers will interact with directly.

The Abstractions conference was a great overall experience. We learned so much from the sessions we attended and the conversations that we had at our booth, and we are looking forward to putting some of this new knowledge into action at SocketLabs.  We are also looking forward to attending Abstractions again, as well as other similar developer-focused conferences!

You can find the SocketLabs team at DevOpsDays Philadelphia from October 22 – 23, DeveloperWeek Austin from November 5 – 7, and TechBash in Pocono Manor, PA from November 12 – 15.

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