In over 25 years in the Information Technology industry - which has included attending such conferences as Object World East, Software Development West, Java One, No Fluff Just Stuff, Seattle Code Camp (v3, v4), etc. - QCon 2008 was by far the very best conference I have ever attended. I will be going back!
One of the personal highlights of the trip was a chance meeting with Martin Fowler during one of the breaks between sessions and being able to tell him how much of an inspiration his writing has been to me personally. The other was a chance to catch-up with my old friend and former Mercata.com colleague, Dr. Dean Wampler, now a consultant with Object Mentor.
As a small side note, I had an interesting exchange awhile back with someone on a certain message forum, in which I had initiated a thread of conversation around the question of "What conferences do you find most useful?".
It was suggested that conferences were useless - and that better value would be obtained by reading books and reading blogs of others.
In general, I agree that the level of technical information retained from attending a conference pales in comparison to reading a book. However, those who dismiss conferences on the basis of such thinking miss important (and not inconsequential) benefits of attending conferences:
- The synergy of ideas that occurs in conversations with other attendees
- The revitalizing "enthusiasm" that arises from being in the presence of others who share a like passion
- The serendipitous knowledge that is acquired by spontaneous conversations
- The opportunities to network with peers
- Hearing the experiences that others may not feel disposed to post to public blogs