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Devoxx US 2017: Day 1 Recap

| by Wesley Reisz Follow 4 Followers on Mar 21, 2017. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Devoxx US kicked off today.

Day 1 of the inaugural North American edition of the popular European software conference that was created in 2001 by Stephan Janssen, and organized by the Belgian Java User Group (BeJUG), featured speakers like Venkat Subramaniam, Arun Gupta, Stuart Marks, and Josh Long. Devoxx US is being held at the San Jose Convention Center.

The day started off with a humorous keynote by Chet Haase. Entitled The Business of Technology Business Technology, the talk kicked the day off on a lighter note. Following Haase, Janelle Klein (CTO New Iron & Founder of Open Mastery) took the stage and explored What is Identity?

In a densely packed talk, she explored topics like:

  • How ideas get into our head
  • Thinking of our brains as a sense-making machine
  • Treating purpose as a design constraint
  • How we see our own personal identity

Klein used the domain vocabulary of software to better communicate (and discuss) the human brain. For example, Klein explored the human brain as a sense-making machine, stating that we recognize patterns to help us understand things in our environment.

Using language developers know well, she used inheritance as a metaphor for describing things we often feel belong and don’t belong. Things that we are familiar with extend from I (or me), yet those that do not feel familiar to us extend from Object. The idea is there are things that we tend to feel belong and things that we feel do not.

Statements like “we write unit tests” and “we pair program” model the In-Group and, in our minds, extend from I (or ourselves). These are things like us. For things that are like us, it’s easier to have empathy and understand these things. On the flip side, we tend to Objectify the Out-Group. Therefore, we might say Managers or Testers extend from Object. This might mean we subliminally think of Testers as a tool for us to use, rather than people “like us”. She described this model as a way we tend to frequently categorize and fail to have empathy for things “not like us”, or things that don’t extend from I.

Recognizing this categorization function of the human brain, Klein said it’s really easy to rewire your brain to improve empathy. Modeled as a simple brain hack, she offered a simple two step process to improve our empathy toward each other and things in our environment (almost like setting a breakpoint in our minds).

It looks like this:

  1. Stop and think, "is this a person or an object?"
  2. Choose a person

It’s that easy.

Klein went on to explore who we are, what we believe in, and offered insightful views into the mind of developers. She offered additional brain hacks to think about our environment signals in new ways and how we might interrupt them.

In the end, Klein left us with concrete ways to really think about ourselves and others, stating that Identity 1.0 was the sum of my past, but Identify 2.0 is “I am the one who chooses in the moment.”

The rest of the day featured talks that focused on Java, Android, and Modern Web, including:

  • Hanneli Tavante discussing Rust for Java Developers. This talk explored what Rust is, why you might want to consider it, and the features it offers from the lens of a Java developer. She walked through a simple Fizzbuzz example in Rust and discussed immutability, lifetimes, traits, and even reviewed some of the downsides of Rust (like the steep learning curve).
  • Marcus Bertrand of Atlassian discussed Code Review vs Pull Request. In the talk, Bertrand discussed popular code review methodologies and gave advice on when and how to implement each in your team.
  • Ty Smith of Uber went through Deep Android Integrations and discussed best practices that he has accumulated from working at places like Evernote, Twitter, and Uber.
  • Venkat Subramaniam (founder of Agile Developer, Inc.) gave two talks throughout the day. The first was on Reactive Programming in Java, and the second talk was on functional programming.

In all, day one featured up to 10 concurrent sessions with a ~43 speakers presenting topics that ranged from TypeScript 2.0 and Failing Sooner to Ten Simple Rules for Writing Great Testcases. Janssen said the expected audience size is to reach ~750 developer across the three-day conference.

Day Two kicks off tomorrow with a keynote from Rama Akkiraju entitled From Science Fiction to Science Fact: How AI Will Change Our Approach to Building Apps and Leveraging Data.

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