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RubyFringe Conference - End of registration coming up

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RubyFringe is a new Ruby conference taking place July 18-20th in Toronto, Canada. The speakers list includes not only Ruby community members like Ezra Zygmuntowicz (EngineYard, Merb), Yehuda Katz (Merb), Obie Fernandez (Hashrocket), John Lam (IronRuby), Chris Wansrath (Github). Damien Katz of the CouchDB project will also give a talk.

Popular blogger Reg Braithwaite is also on the speaker list, and will give a talk titled "Ruby.rewrite(Ruby)":
An introduction to writing Ruby that reads, writes, and rewrites Ruby. In an extremely short period of time we will extend the Ruby language to include new conditional expressions, add new forms of evaluation such as call-by-name and call-by-need, and if time permits we’ll define new recursive combinators.

In other words we’ll practice the truest form of constructive criticism: Instead of complaining about missing language features, we’ll implement them.

We talked to Pete Forde of Unspace about RubyFringe.

Pete explains the basic theme of RubyFringe:
RubyFringe was originally going to be a Merb conference! However, we realized that the real crisis the community was feeling was around the theme of change. Every small thing that blows up and becomes larger than life goes through these growing pains. It's a full-on identity crisis, where we're simultaneously proud and ego-boosted and freaked out about all these perceived "late-adopters" who didn't even read about Rails until 2007, buying up all of the dozens of Rails books suddenly on the shelves.

It's not xenophobia, it's just that the playground has become a lot bigger, and developers need to learn new rules of conduct without forgetting what made the Ruby language and Rails framework feel so refreshing in the first place. Zed Shaw's rant really blew the lid off a lot of frustration many people felt in varying degrees, and so we realized that our mission was to mount an event that Zed would be proud to attend.

RubyFringe, then - the conference with big heart and a solid execution plan - embraces the punk rock, DIY ethos by choosing not to see Rails developers as a profit center. There's no corporate sponsorships, it's single track, and attendance is intentionally capped at 150 people to guarantee a small, social atmosphere for people to connect in. There's no keynotes, we're providing an activity track for travel companions coming to Toronto with an attendee, and we're probably going way overboard with food and evening entertainment. We're trying to inject art and artistry into this at every turn.
Of course, many developers interested in going to conferences need to convince their manager that it's a good use of their time. Pete gives the manager compatible pitch for going to RubyFringe:
The simple take is that for less than most vanilla conferences, you get half an hour with 21 thought leaders in the Ruby community who are giving the goods on what they think you should be hearing about. Many of the speakers are preparing talks that will be unique to RubyFringe.

There are people speaking about alternative Ruby frameworks like Merb and Sinatra, business and entrepreneurial aspects of Ruby, project leaders from teams implementing Ruby (JRuby, IronRuby, and Rubinius), and raw tech like CouchDB (RESTful database written in Erlang) and Archaeopteryx. Not to mention, Zed Shaw and Obie Fernandez. It's very high signal to noise, but with fun and networking opportunities built in.

We have a FAQ on this subject at:
Finally, Pete explains Unspace's reasons for organizing RubyFringe:
Unspace is a Ruby consulting and application bootstrapping team of 9 women and men in Toronto, Canada. We exist because of a call to action to create a "Rails A-Team" in early 2005, and decided that it should be us... and so we bet the farm on a technology that our first clients had never heard of.

Rails has been really good to us. We love Rails! It's like an agreement between friends.

Unspace is actively trying not to focus a spotlight on our involvement with RubyFringe, even though it would seem contradictory. We're doing this one-off event because it's something we'd want to go to ourselves, and we want to blaze a trail for people who are planning similar events in the future. Conferences don't have to be a bunch of pasty white dudes in a hotel meeting room with boxed lunches and sponsored coffee breaks, you know? You know there's a problem when people list "hanging out in the lobby" as a can't miss activity at a tech event.

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