I could write a book about PowerShell Summit, and that’s just from the first day. Both the breadth and depth of innovation in this space is staggering. But I don’t want to talk about PowerShell. Because it isn’t really about PowerShell. PowerShell is an amazing tool that can enable any number of things, and accelerate everything else. But it isn’t really about PowerShell.
It’s about the People
Someone told me that when I was young and dumb, and starting my career. Of course I didn’t listen, because people, by and large, are dumb I thought. I would be smarter than them, and therefore didn’t need people to get in the way. And that worked more or less. It turns out there is no lack of technological problems that can be solved by locking yourself in a room and just working really hard. In fact you can make a great career being really smart and really hardworking.
But there is also no shortage of problems to be solved that take vision, and forethought, and collaboration. And these are the hardest, and most rewarding problems. The people that solve these problems are the ones you read about, the visionaries, the leaders. None of them have a crystal ball. These “visions” don’t come from quiet solitary reflection next to a windslept lake at the top of a mountain. They come from talking to people. Listening to people. Being accutely aware of the environment that is greater than one person. Because at the end of the day both the problem and the solution are really about people.
It is, of course, also about the code
I mean we’re not getting together to do cross stitch. Everyone there had some amazing things they were doing. And not just the official presentations. Countless conversations just blew me away with the level of technical competence of everyone there. If you want to feel like a small fish in a big pond (but in a good way), then Summit is the place to be.
The things you will learn in a week could not possibly fit in a human sized brain all at once. Luckily there should be recordings. But those ideas that are implanted like impatient little seeds can all fit, and they’ll grow until your head is ready to burst. The hardest part might be trying to decide which cool new project to work on first. (The answer is probably IoT, I mean what’s cooler than that?)
First Time Speaker
In addition to being my first time attending the Summit, it was also my first time speaking. I had a presentation that was mostly a collection of things I had discovered and was excited to share with the community (Maybe a shorter title next time though). I was a little nervous from time to time, and definitely underestimated the amount of work it would take to prepare a good presentation. But I managed to get all that done and had enough practice time to feel pretty confident about it.
Bottom line it was an amazing experience. Just putting myself out there and being open to the responses, for better or worse, really made me feel like a part of this community. I was giving back, whether anyone wanted it or not. All the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I was definitely not prepared for the feels when people told me that I helped them understand something new, or gave them some great ideas, or even just entertained them (exploiting your children for laughs totally works). That was a fantastic thing each and every time it happened.
But even better than that was the guy (you know who you are) that came up and said that he had a better way to do something I had presented on. Usually I hate being wrong about anything, and the thought that I was up there telling people something that wasn’t 100% correct should be mortifying. But it wasn’t. It was exciting. We chatted for a minute then he pulled out his laptop. Right there in the hallway, perched on a beverage cart, he showed me some code and we tried a few things and I learned something great. It was amazing! It was community. I have no doubt that that gentleman will be presenting himself next year at summit, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. Because it isn’t just about the code, it’s about people.
Technology is easy, People are hard
Computers are great. For a lot of reasons, but most of all because if you give a computer a task, it will do it. The same way over and over again. It’s predictable, it’s comforting. People are none of those things. People are messy, analog, prone to bouts of irrationality. It’s a wonder Spock didn’t lose his mind half the time.
And if people are hard, crowds are even worse. I have many unpleasant memories of the old “Crash and Burn”, walking up to a crowd of people, trying awkwardly to engage in conversation, then slinking away after being completely ignored. It sucks, because people suck. But not at Summit. There wasn’t a single instance of being excluded from a conversation. You could just walk up and talk to anyone. Butt in a conversation, eavesdrop, join in a group of 10. It was like foolproof interaction. The fact that we were all talking about the same sort of thing helps, of course.
So yes, people are hard. But people are also creative, and curious, and exciting. Not all people, of course, but MY people. OUR people. The right group of people can tackle the most amazing challenges. Except for Iron Scripter, that mess is just impossible.
Iron Scripter, Master of the Three Ways
Speaking of Iron Scripter, that was such a great way to end the Summit. Each of the three factions represents a style of code. Daybreak faction is beautiful code, Battle faction is code that just runs, and Flawless faction (the best faction) is for code that is perfect in every way.
We started out in three adjacent rooms, were given our task and a 1 hour time limit, and we went to work. Each of the factions lived up to their ethos in the most perfect way possible. Battle faction was just throwing code snippets in slack and probably hollering at each other, Daybreak was apparently sitting in silent meditation letting their muses guide them to their Nirvana. And Flawless, well we took a calm, measured approach, assigned a Project Manager and Git Merge Manager, broke into various coding teams with test and QA departments. It was all very… Flawless. We didn’t get much code shipped, but we didn’t ship any errors either.
It was all just great fun, and was really cool to see everyone doing the same task in so many different ways. Next year will be even more interesting now that we (feel like) we know what to expect.
If you made it this far and can’t tell already, I had a good time. It has absolutely changed the way I think about my job and my career. When all the session videos go up I’ll have my own little summit all over again to dig into all the technical details, but my mindset has been forever shifted. Also, if you made it this far, I’ll guess you are a fan as well, or atleast midly curious. Make every effort to attend next year, especially if you’ve not been to a PowerShell Summit before. Thanks for reading all this and hopefully I will see you at Summit 2019!