This weekend I went upstate to Catskills Conf, a gathering for technologists just a few hours outside NYC!
Report from Catskills Conf: it’s the best 🏕 pic.twitter.com/jsXHPhL7Yv— Kat Kitay 🍂 (@kkitay) October 20, 2018
Catskills Conf is my first tech conference. I would describe it as a “boutique conference” with <100 attendees. It’s very intimate and the vibe was comfortable and family-like. It’s also at an outdoors center in the woods during the fall, the best season.
Here’s my report:
I gave a 5-minute lightning talk about my game. It was fun! I want to speak more. I love that they gave attendees an opportunity to take the stage. There was even an open mic night.
Small conferences that focus on the local area (in this case, Hudson Valley & surrounds) are wonderful. It really felt like the community was invested in each other and in the place itself.
@bridgs_dev gave a great talk about how you can be a game developer without working at an AAA company, and how picking small projects can give you the creative constraints you need to finish them. She talked about games being an amazing tool for learning; coincidentally, I had the same experience making my own game in React. She even had an audience member come up and play an amazing PICO-8 game on stage!
I loved how @jordankoschei called out how homogenous the web has become, comparing its trends to an agricultural monoculture. He advocated for “digital terroir” and talked about making software and experiences feel rooted in the values of the place you make them and for the people you make them for. Coincidentally, I saw this tweet later that day, completely unrelatedly:
Why does literally every SaaS company now have the exact same animation style on their marketing site? These are all from different companies: pic.twitter.com/LFUjZOF0VC— Lauren White (@laurenoffwhite) October 14, 2018
We were taught how to forage and learned which red berries are poisonous and which are not. At night, there was a campfire with s'mores materials. There was a sauna. One night a bird guy came and showed us a great horned owl, turkey vulture, gyrfalcon, and red tailed hawk. We had time to take long walks and gaze at the changing leaves. It was such a chill time.
@asiahoe told us her story about taking responsibility for designing the world you want and how civic engagement and mentorship made her a better practitioner. She urged us to take action, no matter how small, and gave us an important reminder of our duty to our communities.
@mgoldst taught us to embrace “not knowing” and that even 20 years into his career, he still feels imposter syndrome. He showed us how his team creates amazing visual design by stepping away from the computer and experimenting with paper, glue, and other physical mediums, and how there’s some discoveries you can’t make with screens alone.
Everyone was making friends, even people who never make friends at conferences! (me)
Those are just a few highlights: there were talks on accessibility, running nonprofits, the history of emoji, and more. THANK YOU CATSKILLS CONF! Seeya next year!