php|tek: The Hottest Thing in Chicago (that’s not a giant metal space bean)
So, php|tek has come and gone and everyone is hopefully starting to catch up on their sleep. This was my second visit to tek and while it was delightfully familiar, the conference had an entirely different energy compared to last year. From what I hear, this was the largest tek yet, and maybe it was the increased attendance that is responsible for the very different feel. During lunch breaks, the large central atrium at the venue was totally abuzz and each table was packed and lively with conversation. The atrium was pretty well packed, in fact, well in to the night with attendees talking and playing games. Not only was the conference well attended, but I understand that roughly half of the attendees were coming to tek for the very first time. In keeping with the conference’s Star Trek/SciFi theme, each attendee received a color-coded shirt: yellow for speakers (Captains in the chromatic language of the original Star Trek series), blue for repeat attendees, and red for first-timers. The venue was very, very well represented with red shirts!
A Community That Cares
Among the people I talked to, the unqualified highlight of tek14 was the Mental Health Summit held the first night of the regular conference. Working with Engine Yard as part of their awesome Prompt initiative, tek brought together four members of the community to help start a frank and honest discussion about mental health issues. Ed Finkler, Greg Baugues, Ben Marks, and Paddy Foran each shared some of their own experiences. I was privileged to attend Ed’s Open Sourcing Mental Health presentation last year, and it’s wonderful to see that our community is giving mental health the importance that it deserves. I won’t diminish what they shared by attempting to reproduce it here, but nearly all of us have at some point been touched by mental illness, our own or that of someone we care for. Instead I’ll pass on Ed’s request that you please visit http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.
There was a different spin on attendee-driven content this year with Open Spaces. Attendees were invited to host their own hour-long round table discussions about whatever topics they wished. Held in the alcove outside the main ballroom, Open Spaces was a comfy little venue that played host to a wide variety of discussions throughout the week.
At the conference closing, Eli White announced the php[architect] crew will be spinning up a new conference this November. php[world] will be held in my own home town of Washington, DC, so I have to admit I feel a little bit of ownership-by-proximity. DC is a great little tech town and I’ve been saying for a while that we need our own conference. World will bring in all the disparate PHP sub-communities– WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc– together in one fantastic venue. If world is half the conference that tek is, I know it will be absolutely amazing!
That’s a Wrap
Huge, massive thanks to Eli White, Sandy Smith, Beth Tucker Long, Oscar Merida, Kevin Bruce, and Heather White for organizing tek and for, along with all the volunteers, making the whole thing run so smoothly. I cannot wait for next year (though at least there’s world to look forward to now!)