9 questions about I T.A.K.E Unconference

eJobs Romania team, one of #itakeunconf partners, discussed more with Steliana Moraru, Marketing & Communication Manager, about what can you expect from the 5th edition of the unconference. Read to discover more about sessions, speakers, side events, and why you should be among the ~300 software international software crafters joining in May.


The interview was originally published in Romanian, here.


 eJobs: What expectations do you have for the 5th edition of I T.A.K.E Unconference?


Steliana Moraru: I T.A.K.E Unconference has become a benchmark in terms of events dedicated to the tech community. And this means that we set a standard of quality and content of the program, first of all inside the team. There are at least three main objectives we have:
  • Top-notch international speakers, with several years of experience in the tech field
  • Qualitative content and the latest technologies
  • An innovative and complex program format,  through which the participants can pursue their own learning objectives, find value and experiment with all these concepts right during the event.


Thus, we focus on creating a hands-on, complex and technology agnostic program. This means a rigorous selection of keynotes and speakers through an international Call for Speakers. We also consider the latest technologies, trends, and topics in the field.
Speaking about the technology agnostic content, this means that participants, regardless of their technical background and programming language (Java, C#, JavaScript, Clojure, etc) have access to information, resources, and examples, that can be used in their your own projects.


There will be code based discussions both in presentations, hands-on workshops, and live coding sessions. And this is something we truly enjoy because we encourage practical approach and concrete examples from real situations. What challenges have existed in other projects? What problems did they encounter? What technologies did they use and how? These are just some questions the participants will receive responses. Furthermore, they could feel more challenged based on what they find out.


We come up with a unconference format, being the first local tech event which puts in value the knowledge of participants. This creates a dynamic environment for learning, discussion, and debate, which are broader than the discussions on the run from breaks at the traditional conferences.
Moreover, because we wanted to keep a sense of community, of real interaction, we are limiting the number of participants to 300. Therefore, we assess our expectations in terms of content, program, real discussion, all based on experience and plenty of coding.


eJobs: What are the differences between this year’s event and last year’s event?


Steliana: First, the topics that we have in the program are based mainly on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Mobile, DevOps, Microservices, which is a shift from what we had last year in the program.
Second, we have 6 international keynotes:
Romeo Kinzler | Chief Data Scientist IBM Watson (Switzerland)
Gerard Meszaros | Author xUnit Test Patterns: Refactoring Test Code (Canada)
David Schmudde | Creative technologist & computer programmer (USA)
Dan Billing | Senior Test Architect & Security Expert (UK)
Felienne Hermans | University Assistant & IT Entrepreneur (Netherlands)
Eduards Sizovs | IT Entrepreneur & Software Development Coach (Latvia)


I should point out here that we have few atypical sessions or less conventional for an event intended for programmers. For instance, David Schmudde (USA) is a computer programmer with over 15 experience in the field and an artist. He told us that:
I am excited to share a few thoughts about writing software for abstract domains, such as the humanities and the liberal arts, at the I T.A.K.E. Unconference. My formal background in computer science and filmmaking informs how I make qualitative choices in the quantitative domain of software. I’ll share historical experiences from tooling to implementation, and discuss how this approach can even benefit conventional problem sets in commercial applications.
Alongside these inter-disciplinary sessions, we also have sessions addressing sensitive themes such as automated testing in Software Development. For example, Gerard Meszaros:
“Preparing detailed examples to show various scenarios of how the system will be used can have a huge impact on the testability of the system especially when it is the development teams job to automate the execution of those examples. All of a sudden, it becomes in developers best interests to make the system testable! And therefore the system becomes more easily tested.”
Third, at the request of the participants, we have 1 day of pre-event workshops, with 4 international trainers, who will address the area of DevOps, Architecture, Quality Practices, and Software Design.


eJobs: Why should a beginner programmer/senior attend the event?


Steliana: Regardless of the level of experience, any programmer will find a dynamic learning environment: through examples, hands-on workshops, exposure to different technologies, the opportunity to discuss with speakers, and to debate with crafters from more than 15 countries.


Referring to senior practitioners, I am going to share with you what Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, keynote I T.A.K. E Unconference and one of the best-known names in the industry, told us: “It’s an event with focus on code, not just the people who talk about their own theories, so it provoked me as speaker to offer good examples of code and to have a hands-on session. It’s an event with a focus on practice, but at the same time there is also time for conversation and spontaneous debates.” It is certainly appreciated by senior programmers because it is based mainly on ideas and the latest trends in various areas of technology.
Based on the seniority level and feedback from previous editions, I can mention that it’s also extremely useful for junior practitioners, especially the practical part from workshops, sessions of pair programming during the event and hands-on sessions with speakers.


eJobs: What do you consider would be the qualities that should a programmer have today, compared to the qualities 5-10 years ago?


Steliana: Considering the fact that the modern world depends on software more and more, programmers should be aware today that their errors can affect a lot of people. Because of this, it resulted in the professionalization of software development.
If 5-10 years ago it was ok to write code and hope it will work, today it’s more and more necessary to be sure. From it derives the software craftsmanship movement which attempts to define a number of practices that programmers need to be aware of and apply, just as in any other profession.


In short, we are discussing an evolution of the profession by the programmer through innovation and the gradual adoption of practices that will define the standard for next years. We want the community from Romania to participate actively in this process, to bring together practitioners here from many countries and create opportunities for dialogue with the participants.


eJobs: Based on what criteria you select speakers at the event?


Steliana: We have a very rigorous process in selecting speakers. To create a varied program, but also very qualitative, each year we launch an International Call for Speakers, open to senior practitioners and applying with sessions on different topics.
We have a team of reviewers – programmers, CTOs, senior tech leads – who analyze and evaluate each session separately.
It is a process that involves resources and feedback for each applicant but allows us to have the best and varied content. This year we selected the sessions of the program (+35 talks, workshops, live coding) from over 100 sessions and 90 international speakers. Moreover, even this year was extremely difficult to choose the final speakers.
The majority of the sessions received came from experienced software crafters and were very good in terms of content. When we have selected the sessions of the program and the speakers, we wanted trending topics and great themes, to present code, to be practical, technology agnostic, and to have  a clear content for the audience.


 eJobs: That will be the most “technical” and “non-technical” themes? How did you choose them? 


Steliana: All sessions belong to the technical field. In order to make a  distinction, I think those who do not show the code, are intended for the Technical Leadership & Management topic. We have several sessions tackling topics such as how to work with development teams, technical leadership and continuous improvement. The rapid development of tools and products dedicated to developers, combined with the increasing need for talented programmers, raises the interest for developer’s experience.
We also have several sessions that address the evolution of the software craftsmanship.
For instance, one of the keynotes has the session “What’s beyond software craftsmanship”. Referring to this session, Eduards Sizvos told us that:
There is a huge competition in the software development market for the best job, fancy technologies, big money. Trying to outcompete others with technical skills is doomed to fail because surprisingly, most of our success is not due to technical abilities. I will share practical tricks that will accelerate and significantly improve your engineering career.
Another session is that of Felienne Hermans, university assistant, and IT entrepreneur. She is internationally recognized for her work in the field of programming. At the I T.A.K.E. Unconference, she will support a session about a reality we are all facing: the need for early education and learning implications of programming:
What is computer science? How do we measure if a programming teaching method is better than another? I’ll explain how we can organize research into computer science and what impact have educational programming programs?


eJobs: One of the topics of discussion within the event will be the situation of women in tech. Why you chose this topic? What similarities/differences you think exists between men and women from tech (from Romania)?


Steliana: We, the I T.A.K.E Unconference team, and Mozaic Works one, the company managing the event, we are a passionate community of tech practitioners. We have always supported and encouraged all the top professionals that we have come across, regardless of gender or background.
We started at I T.A.K.E. Unconference the campaign #womenintech because we wanted to offer inspiration and role models, but also to find stories of success in a predominantly male domain. We make every effort to encourage female presence at the event, whether we are talking about participants, either of the speakers. In terms of differences/similarities – a professional tech is a professional tech. We encountered both women and men programmers and developers with very good technical skills and very good leaders.
It is important for us to contribute with knowledge and to develop an environment that allows equal access to all the talented people in this area.


eJobs: How will devolve the following “parts” of the two-day event: Open Space, Kata Lounge, programming competition, Code Dinner &with a stranger and the after party?


Steliana: T.A.K.E Unconference is coming up with an innovative concept, which emphasizes peer learning & hands-on education in the first place, being a participant-driven meeting. Which means:
  • Create a product from scratch to Product Development Track through practices of Software Craftsmanship applied live and without the pressure of the office.
  • The opportunity to create the Agenda within the technical Open Space. Each participant can become a speaker, share knowledge and experience on the subjects that are super passionate.
  • Kata Lounge – participants may write code at any time during the event, solving a problem (called kata). Then get feedback from participants and speakers.
  • Programming contest- we create for this challenge a set of problems to solve during the event and you can earn cutting-edge gadgets.
  • Code dinner with a stranger takes place on the first evening of the event. There are created  ad-hoc groups of participants and speakers (generally a speaker on a certain theme “gathers” a group of participants for dinner who want to debate and more on the topic addressed by speakers)


eJobs: How many of the participants in the event will be programmers?
Steliana: Relying on the experience of the 4 previous editions we will have approximately 300 software developers, DevOps, architects, business analysts, CTOs and technical leads. The majority is made up of software developers. The audience is international with event attendees and speakers from Europe, United States, and Asia.


Are you in search of inspiration and new ideas to influence and develop your own organization? I T.A.K.E Unconference is the place to find new resources in technology and software development. Register here today! 

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