This is a weblog about computing, culture et cetera, by Miikka Koskinen. Read more.
There’s a tech conference or a meet-up coming up and you want to give a talk. Thus you will have to write a proposal with a title and a description for your talk. What should go into it?
Let’s recap the goals of your proposal. There are at least two:
- Convince the event organizers to pick your talk.
- Convince the event attendees to come to your talk.
The goals are well-aligned: the organizers want to have a line-up of talks that makes the potential attendees excited.
You will need to do some selling and I’ll leave that part up to you. That said, there’s some basic information that you should always include. When I’m reading a proposal, I’m always trying to answer these three questions:
- What is this talk about? This includes how you will talk about it. For example, if you’re going to talk about a technology, I want know to if you’re going to give a conceptual overview or do a deep dive into hairy details, or something else.
- Why should I learn about this? It’s cool to learn about new stuff, but I’m not going to be excited about your talk if I don’t have a clue about why it’d be interesting for me.
- Who is this talk for? If I’m completely new to the topic, can I still get something out of your talk? Or if I’m an expert, will I immediately get bored?
There’s no magical recipe for the perfect talk proposal, but addressing these questions should get you started. Keep in mind that there are plenty of “right” answers. For example, it’s fun is a legitimate answer for the second question for many events.
A lot has been written about this topic. If you want to read more, I recommend starting with these two links:
There’s an annoying conversational anti-pattern for which I’d like to have a name. It goes like this:
- Person A makes an argument.
- Person B disagrees with the argument.
- Person A assumes that person B simply didn’t understand the argument properly and re-states it more elaborately.
The crux is that it does not occur to person A that person B could legitimately disagree with them. This leads to frustrating discussions for both sides. Sometimes this is done deliberately to derail conversations, but I’ve seen people do it in good faith.
I associate this pattern with highly-privileged people arguing with marginalized people, especially if the highly-privileged person is committed to the status quo but at the same time wants to be seen as an ally. You can see this happening on Twitter every now and then.
I can’t believe I’m the only one noticing this pattern. If you know a good name for it, please let me know (e-mail me or tweet at me).
A log in a lake in Nuuksio. Out of my photos in 2017, this is my favorite.
It’s January, so it’s time to look both at the past and at the future! Here’s some good stuff that happened to me in 2017:
- I finally graduated as a BSc in mathematics and made good progress towards graduating as a MSc.
- I had a relaxing summer vacation that included hiking and sailing.
- I attended ICFP. I’ve wanted to go there for ages and finally had the chance. It was the most interesting conference I’ve been to.
- In the fall, I started practicing ashtanga yoga. It turned out te be a good combination of exercise and light meditation.
My thinking about software development evolved in small but important ways:
- Nowadays I’m more concerned about whether our team does good work than whether I do good work personally. Might be a sign of maturing as an engineer.
- I no longer care about Haskell. Being a Haskell programmer used to be a part of my ego, but it’s time to admit that I don’t find Haskell interesting anymore. ICFP made this clear. I’m over being a <programming language X> person.
Here’s what I hope 2018 will bring along:
- More good things: graduating as a MSc, more hiking, sailing, and yoga! More time outdoors!
- I’d like to figure out how to publish writing regularly and sustainably. Blogging every week didn’t work for me, so I stopped it. I did continue to write, but I didn’t publish anything – that wasn’t useful either.
- In general, it’d be cool to ship more things. I’ve always been good at understanding things, but it’s not useful unless you somehow reflect that understanding back to the world.
I enjoyed some things in 2017:
- The best book I read was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It covers universal themes like love, marriage, death of a loved one, and birth of a children. I felt that Tolstoy did a good job describing how differently various characters feel about the same events. I recommend it to everyone!
- Good Life Coffee’s Kayon Mountain was excellent, we drank a lot of it at the office.
- Umami, the sushi place in Tampereen kauppahalli, is great! I’m not a sushi connoisseur, but it’s the best sushi I’ve had in Finland.
Finally, I can’t believe it’s 2018 and Juha Sipilä’s cabinet still hasn’t fallen apart.
For more posts, see archive.