I just got back from a 4 day trip to Brazil and back to attend BrazilJS. I was humbled and very happy to give the opening keynote seeing that the closing was meant to be by Brendan Eich and Andreas Gal – so, no pressure.
For quite some while now, I am confused as to who we are serving as browser makers, standards writers and library creators. All of the excellent solutions we have seem to fall through the cracks somewhere when you see what goes live.
That’s why I wanted to remind the audience that whatever amazing, inspiring and clever thing they’ll hear about at the conference is theirs to take to fruition. We have too much frustration in our market, and too much trying to one-up one another instead of trying to solve problems and making the solutions easily and readily available. The slides are on Slideshare, and a video will become available soon.
There are a few things to remember when you are going to Brazil:
- When people are excited about something, they are really excited about it. There’s a lot of passion.
- Personal space is as rare as an affordable flat in central London – people will affectionately touch strangers and there is a lot of body language. If that’s not your thing, make it obvious!
- You will eat your body weight in amazing meat and food is a social gathering, not just fuel. Thus, bring some time.
- Everybody will apologise for their bad English before having a perfectly comprehensible conversation with you
- People of all ages and backgrounds are into heavy music (rock, metal, hardcore…)
About the event
- There was a very strong message about diversity and a sensible and enforced code of conduct. This should not be a surprise, but when you consider Brazilian culture and reputation (think Carnival) it takes pride and conviction in those matters to stand up for them the way the organisers did.
- The AV setup was huge and worked fine. There were no glitches in the audio and every presentation was live translated from English to Brazilian Portuguese and vice versa. The translation crew did a great job and we as presenters should do more to support them. I will write a post soon about this.
- Wireless was flaky, but available when you needed it. It is pretty ridiculous to assume in a country where connectivity isn’t cheap and over a thousand people with two devices each try to connect that you’d have a good connection. As a presenter, I never rely on availability – neither should you.
- It was a single track conference over two days with lots of high-class speakers and very interesting topics.
- As a speaker, everything was organised for me. We all took a hired bus from and to the venue and we had lunch catered for us.
- The conference also had a minority/diversity scholarship program where people who couldn’t afford to come got a sponsored ticket. These people weren’t grandstanded or shown up but just became a part of the crowd. I was lucky to chat to a few and learned quite a few things.
So, all I can say is thank you to everyone involved. This was a conference to remember and the enthusiasm of the people I met and talked to is a testament to how much this worked!
BrazilJS was an interesting opportunity for me as I wanted to connect with my Microsoft colleagues in the country. I was amazed by how well-organised our participation was and loved the enthusiasm people had for us. Even when one of our other speakers couldn’t show up, we simply ran an impromptu Q&A on stage abut Edge. Instead of a sales booth we had technical evangelists at hand, who also helped translating. Quite a few people came to the booth to fix their web sites for Microsoft Edge’s standard compliant rendering. It’s fun to see when fixing things yields quick results.
Other short impressions:
- I had no idea what a machine my colleague Jonathan Sampson is on stage. His talk in adventurous Portuguese had the audience in stitches and I was amazed by the well-structured content. I will pester him to re-record this in English.
- Ju Gonçalves (@cyberglot) gave a great, detailed talk about reduce(). If you are a conference organiser, check her out as a new Speaker() option – she is now based in Copenhagen.
- It was fun to catch up with Laurie Voss after a few years (we worked in Yahoo together) and it was great of him to point to his LGBTQ Slack group inviting people to learn more about that facet of diversity in our community.
- It warmed me to see the Mozilla Brazil community still kicking butt. Warm, affectionate and knowledgable people like the ones you could meet at the booth there are the reason why I became a Mozillian in the first place.
And that’s that
Thank you for everyone involved. Thank you to everybody asking me lots of technical questions and giving non-filtered feedback. Thank you for showing that a lot of geeks can also be very human and warm. Thank you for embracing someone who doesn’t speak your language. I met quite a few people I need to follow up with and I even had a BBQ at the family of two of the attendees I met before I went to my plane back home. You rock!