I came down to Calgary early this morning for the ALT.NET Canada conference being held at the University of Calgary. For those of you new to the term, ALT.NET refers to “a self-organizing, ad-hoc community of developers bound by a desire to improve ourselves, challenge assumptions, and help each other pursue excellence in the practice of software development.” When I first started hearing about ALT.NET in the developer blogosphere last year, I got the impression that there was an “us vs them” kind of mentality. Either you believed in ALT.NET or you didn’t. A number of other developers I’ve talked to remarked that ALT.NET seemed somewhat cult-like. Given that, I wasn’t sure what to expect for this event. I’m happy to report that it has been great so far!
The conference is an “Open Spaces” style of event, which as far as I can tell is basically an unconference. There is no set agenda, the attendees are the discussion leaders, and there’s lots of open spaces for people to use for breakouts. About 75 people came out today, most from Alberta but some from Vancouver, Winnipeg, and other parts of Canada.
I think the sessions are a bit long at an hour and a half, but that doesn’t stop people from going off and having their own discussions so it’s not all bad. The first session I went to was on the web UI of the future, and then I joined the discussion on telecommuting. After lunch I went to a session on occasionally connected apps, and finished off with a session on volunteering development time. All very interesting and thought provoking.
A large number of people went out to Schank’s tonight for beer and food, so that was good. There are two sessions tomorrow morning to finish off the conference. The sessions are being documented here, and there’s even some video up. You can see my photos from the event here. Also check out #altnetcalgary on Twitter for more discussion.