Conferences and Kids
I've taken my daughter, now 13, to FOSDEM in Brussels every year that I had slots there. She isn't a geek, yet enjoys the crowds and the freebies. When I could, I also took my kids to other events, where I was speaking. In this post I'd like to capture my feelings about why children should be part of conferences, and what conferences can do to make this easier.
First off, the "why?" Traditional conferences (in all domains, not just software) are boring, ritualized events where the participants compete to see who can send the most people to sleep at once. The real event starts later, over alcohol. It is a strictly adult affair, and what happens at the conf stays at the conf.
Now our business is a little different. It is far more participative. Despite our history of finicky magic technologies that seem to attract mainly male brains, we strive for diversity, openness, broad tolerance. Most of what we learn and teach comes through informal channels. Finished is formal education, elitism, and formal credentials. We are smashing the barriers of distance, wealth, background, gender, and age.
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