The hallway track conference

A sign over a door that says "FEEST FEEST"

If you have ever talked to an experienced software developer about tech conferences, you have probably heard them say something like this: “Oh, I mostly ignore the talks and focus on talking with people in the hallway.”

I’m one of those people. It’s a bit sad: the speakers have spent a huge amount of effort to prepare their talk and we travel there from the other side of the world to ignore them.

A week ago I attended the Heart of Clojure conference in Leuven, Belgium. What was so great about it was that they had plenty of time and space for the hallway track and not too many talks1.

They had long breaks, including the extra-long siesta break in the middle of the day, and non-talk activities such as a sketchnote workshop, meditation, and a screen-printing workshop (I was delighted).

In the evening there was the Adventurous Dinner, where the participants were randomly split into groups of eight or so people and sent to different restaurants around the city center. This was great for meeting a new group of people and chatting with them about the day. Afterwards we congregated to a noisy bar for a more traditional conference after-party.

The result was that everybody was talking to each other. People made new friends and seems like everybody was having a great time. There was a real feeling of community. Often at conferences you have to be a speaker or otherwise an insider to get the full experience. This time everybody got the insider experience.

I’d recommend the conference but understandably it looks like that Heart of Clojure won’t happen again.

  1. Out of the talks I attended, my favorite was the keynote by Rachel Lawson: My opensource project; It’s all about the code. So topical for the Clojure community! ↩︎

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