The first hour and fifteen of the day was Cyndi Mitchell of ThoughtWorks and me in keynote mode. The interesting part, though, was the hallways and lunch.
♂♀♂♂♂♂♂♂♂♂♂♂♂♀♂♂♂☹ · In the keynote, I griped about the all-male audience. I’m sorry, I’m not going to shut up about this: it is irritating, disturbing, and unacceptable that probably less than 100 of the 1600 attendees were women. It’s probably pretty lame of me to say “unacceptable” when I have exactly zero good ideas about how to fix it. I talked to a random selection of attendees; two women said “thank you for saying that” and a bunch of men said “yeah, it sucks, what can be done?”
Geeks, you know, they’re admittedly obsessive about computers, but once you get past that they’re on average a pretty eclectic, amusing, and warm-hearted bunch. And in recent years I haven’t met a single one who wasn’t upset about the missing gender. If a booming female Voice From On High spoke out, saying, “Do this and we’ll rejoin your profession”, well I bet a lot of us would do whatever it was. But failing that, in the meantime the problem isn’t getting better.
Keynote Notes · I loved speaking to that crowd, and they laughed at what I thought were the funny bits. I picked up some static on Twitter about my explanation of why Sun cares about Ruby and Rails: “Because you create computer programs, and you’re going to need hardware and software infrastructure to run them on, and that’s what we sell. D’oh.” The grouchiness happened when I did a little slide show of things we might want to sell, in which I whimsically included the mighty M9000 and suggested that its 64 processors and 2TB of RAM (starting at only $511,385!) might be just the thing to juice Twitter up. Lots of people laughed, though.
The technical meat of my keynote will be familiar to ongoing readers: the network is and will remain heterogeneous, and we have to make all the different infrastructures play nice together, and REST is our best bet for doing that, and, oh by the way, let’s do ETags better. I’m totally starting to sound like Sam Ruby.
Who Was There · I did a couple of straw polls from the stage. First choice: do you work for (a) a startup, (b) a non-startup company, (c) a consultant/service provider/integrator. The first two groups were the largest, and about equal in size: at a guess I’d say 40/40/20. Way more startups than I’d expected.
I asked if there were anyone there for whom Ruby/Rails was their first Web development framework, and a scattering of hands went up; not many, but more than I’d expected.
Then I asked the rest of the crowd where they’d come from on their way to Rails: (a) Java, (b) Microsoft-land, or (c) PHP. It was Java, then PHP, then Microsoft; at a guess something 45/20/35. The fact that PHP was ahead of Microsoft surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t: I’ve been predicting for a while now that Rails will take a piece of PHP’s market share.
In the hallways and lunch tables, I was blunt, asking everyone I talked to where they came from and why they came and what they did. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the news: Rails is getting awfully damn mainstream. To the extent that I observed basically no industry-sector or customer-size pattern to speak of; just all over the map.
The stories reflected three stages of Rails adoption: just here to check it out; tried a few projects, they went great and we’re figuring out what’s next; Rails is more or less all we do now.
Take-Aways · Thanks to Chad and the others for putting the show on, keep ’em coming.
First, they laugh at you...