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HybridConf – or how to dodge the buzzword trap

December 23rd, 2015

The third annual HybridConf, a web design and development event, was this time arranged in Dublin, Ireland. The two previous events have been held in Cardiff and Stockholm. The core elements of HybridConf are inspiration, motivation and collaboration, and that truly showed. HybridConf was really able to take advantage of its small size by providing a genuinely relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, where everyone could feel welcomed, even HybridConf first-timers such as myself. Being small is not always a negative thing as this event showed me.

HybridConf provided a diverse lineup of international speakers that addressed real world issues and spoke about their own experiences. The main focus of the event is, and always has been in exchanging ideas rather than to offer programming tutorials or promote new products. So don’t expect to hear any code talk in HybridConf.

The topics of the talks varied from giving and receiving feedback and self-teaching all the way to robotics and making a rap video presented by the very entertaining UK-based illustrator Mr. Bingo.

One of the most memorable talks was “We are all marketing scum” by Colin Harmon, a former trustee officer in a financial company who found his true passion, quit his job and went after his dreams by starting a cafe in Dublin. Colin’s talk was full of devotion and not always doing things the way other people or the “professionals” are expecting you to do.

Chris Murphy gave a magnificent presentation on the importance of constantly asking “Why?” (check out the technique of 5 whys) to get to the root of your problem. Chris talked about going wide and learning little things about every possible area of expertise to be able to communicate and understand what everybody else is doing. In addition to going wide you should also go deeper and increase your knowledge of the things you’re interested in. This allows you to become a T-shaped person (sounds a bit scary, right?). You should explore possibilities and challenge opinions made by other people rather than blindly accepting them, and most importantly challenge your own opinions and beliefs.

Designer Allison House gave an inspiring speech about tiny byte-sized tasks that can be chained to everyday events, such as walking the dog. These tasks should be something that give you some kind of a pay-off and serve as an emotional trigger. Allison challenged herself when she directed a music video in 3 weeks completely done with 3D animation which she had no previous experience in.

HybridConf in my opinion was able to dodge the “buzzword trap” that some other events are suffering from. Gone were the big investment talks about venture capital or keynotes about growth and innovations. There was just a diverse lineup of interesting and inspiring speakers that a fledgling developer like me can really learn a lot from. And a few parties and a bowling competition (which we didn’t win but I’m sure we came second) won’t do any harm either.

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