Tender is the Love: Red Dot Ruby Conference 2013

“Awesome! @tenderlove in the flesh!”, exclaimed one tweet.  If that makes you curious, this is how @tenderlove looks like:

America's Next Top Engineer

But no, it is not quite what you are thinking.  @tenderlove, or rather Aaron Patterson, is a core team member of the Ruby programming language, and we were at the Red Dot Ruby Conference 2013.  Rubyists (or Ruby developers) form a tight-knit community.  The open fanboy-like behaviour towards the most active contributors of Open Source projects of Ruby and Rails was just an expressive way of saying thanks.

Matz, the person who conceived Ruby, meant for the language to help people “enjoy programming and be happy.”  It comes as no surprise then that being lovely was the order of the day at the conference.  Even before it was time for #FridayHug.  Slides declared “I <3 Ruby”, a speaker compared himself to another speaker’s cat and thank you tweets flooded @andycroll, the person who kickstarted RDRC.  Attendees were seen helping organisers restock drinks.  There were lots of chuckles about an all-girls team hiring.  When I briefly mentioned that the ticket price was high, two people immediately argued that it was easily the best value-for-money conference they ever go to.  It almost seemed like the most negative behaviour was either grumbles that “last year’s food was better” or a tweet campaign by speaker Akira Matsuda to request for a debugger.

Man vs Cat

Why?  After all, content is king, and the diversity of topics and strength of the speakers shone through.  For 915am on Day 1, Aaron Patterson’s talk that kicked off the conference was very technical.  In contrast, Jim Weirich spoke on Code Kata, a simple but effective programming exercise that could be followed even by novices.  There were lots of calls for attendees to try new things, like JRuby and EmberJS, leading to a half-joking remark that “it wouldn’t be a Ruby conference if we didn’t talk about JavaScript.”  And in an existentialist moment, one speaker Paul Gallagher asked “will I still be a Rubyist in 5 years?”

The most precious things are often the most fragile, and there is a strong sense that nobody takes for granted the strong sense of community that pervades Ruby and Red Dot Ruby Conference.  At PeaTiX, we’re here in Singapore to build a community of organisers, learn from them, but also push them to do better.  We have lots to learn from RDRC and salute them for the wonderful event.


Image credits: America’s Next Top Engineer, RDRC’s Flickr