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Monki Gras 2012

09 Feb 2012

Craft beer meets craft tech? From what I can gather James Governor had been threatening a UK version of Monktoberfest since the successful mini-conference finished last year. Last week, he delivered Monki Gras to around 120 hackers from the US & Europe.

[pullquote]A melting pot for hardware, software and craft beer[/pullquote]

Billed as a melting pot for hardware, software & craft beer Monki Gras did not disappoint. The team at RedMonk assembled a brilliant selection of speakers, food, beer & entertainment. Here are some of my highlights:

Speakers

Sharing vs. Clicking

Post Monktoberfest one of the talks that James raved about was the one given by Matt LeMay entitled “Kitteh vs Chickin: How What We Share is Different from What we Click”. Matt delivered the talk first thing on Wednesday morning, using data from bit.ly’s enormous dataset of shares & clicks. Matt made the point that the discrepancy between what people share on the web & what people actually click on is massive. I.e How people wish to be perceived varies from their actual behaviour. Another example of this phenonomenon that Matt pointed out is last.fm’s list of most deleted audio scrobbles.

Balancing Innovation

Another insightful & thought provoking talk discussion was Jason Hoffman (CTO) & Bryan Cantrill‘s (VP of Engineering) dissection of their working relationship at Joyent.  How their roles differ & how they manage the overlap. Jason & Brian also talked at length about the common pitfalls that tech managers fall into. Judging by the chuckling from the audience, I think most attendees had witnessed at least one of these anti-patterns at least once. Jason also reminded me of the Project Triangle, a rule that can be applied to most product-led projects.

Shite UX

The stand-out talk from day 2 was from Leisa Reichelt a freelance UX consultant. Originally titled “Crafting UX Insights” Leisa renamed the talk to “Why most UX is shite” & proceeded to discuss the problems that most organisations face when doing UX work. Usually either bringing opinion into UX decisions or not having the courage to make decisions on behalf of their users; therefore forcing the users to make the choice themselves.

Key Take-aways

A few common themes emerged from the talks across the two days:

  • The data a business has is nearly always insightful; failing to recognise the existence of such information is a pitfall that many fall into.
  • FOSS communities are very fragile to hostile behaviour. It’s really important to maintain & nurture them properly.
  • Open source software has a lot to learn from open source hardware & vice-versa.

Thanks to James, the brilliant speakers & all the people who I chatted to over the 2 days. I can’t wait for the next one.