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Conferencers anonymous (Markus Gärtner)

On February 26, 2013, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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I have a confession to make: I am addicted. In this blog entry I would like to warn you about it, so you don’t go the same route down as I did. Don’t follow me on that path, even if the temptation looks promising and convincing.

You don’t have a clue what I am talking about? I talking about conferences. I am addicted to them. In this blog entry I would like to foster my coming-out, and provide the things that make me addicted. Don’t fool yourself that you won’t become addicted. Stay away from conferences! Don’t go there!

You will feel and be smarter

This is the hardest one. Since you are among so many clever people, you will become infected with cleverism. Sure, that means that you will easily grasp stuff, and feel overwhelmed. However, when you get back to your workplace, you will feel stupid, and feel the urgency to leave for the next conference as fast as possible.

All those clever ideas from the conferences usually last about one week for me. That means, one week after the conference, all those thought exchanges and coffee-(or rather beer-)break discussions will be gone. None of the ideas actually will make sense any more. This my become frustrating to the extent that you may want to leave for the next conference immediately again.

The only way to break this feedback loop is to not go in first place. Stay home, stop your illusion that you will learn stuff at that place. It will be gone long before you can put stuff into practice.

You will meet a bunch of new folks

Yeah, there are lots of folks going to conferences these days. The bigger problem is that you will be robbed any illusions about the personality of all the folks you just know through twitter, facebook, and the like. Sure, you will learn a lot of folks from face-to-face. But also imagine how many people you will have to remember just after the conference.

When you are like me, you will easily forget names. That means the next time you run into that person you will have a hard time remembering the context of that face, and where you have met the first time. Was it virtually? Which online conversations did you have together? Which conference did you meet the first time again? What is your common background?

Also, your contact lists on stuff like xing or linkedin will explode that way. Just imagine all those gazillion folks at conferences who will add you to the latest fad in social media. So, you will also go down the drain to maintain multiple profiles at the same time. And keeping in touch with all those folks will soon become a nightmare. So, don’t go there to start with.

You will get lots of ideas

This is a side-effect of feeling more clever. The bigger problem usually is that you can’t put all those ideas into practice once you get back to your unclever working place. That sometimes means you will leave the company and head for greener pastures. But you can’t change jobs just because you went to a conference, can you?

At least, probably you shouldn’t. Another problem with all those ideas is, that the best ones usually come up after a bunch of booze in the bar in the night. That means that you will hardly remember one of two of them, once your alcohol level gets set back to a reasonable degree. That’s too bad since all those ideas will be lost, and you will feel bad about wasting so much of your time.

Don’t become addicted like me!

Don’t visit conferences like Let’s Test, TestBash, CAST, XP, Agile, Agile Testing Days, only to name a few. Stay away from them. You will become addicted. The only way out is to stay home, and read the hashtag stream from all those places. You can still dream that you miss a lot, but better keep that dream. The other way leads to suffering.

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