Previously I posted about some of the talks that ran yesterday. Now I give my opinions on the event as a whole. I won't be covering the Workshops running today that I'm regretfully missing (sad face).
At the right place?
There had never been a large tech conference in Bath like The Big M before yesterday and it was exciting to see a potentially great one happen right on my doorstep, but I confess that before the event I had some reservations. "Isn't Bath too small?", "How would we get great speakers to come here?", "Will enough of the community attend?", "Gosh that's expensive..." were some of my, mostly unfounded, thoughts.
The right size
I had these feelings of trepidation right up until the moment I walked through the door and soon lost them. The crowd that was already there proved that things were definitely buzzing. More importantly it was just the right kind of buzz. I should point out I also had one more slightly contradictory worry. Big tech conferences were starting to lose their appeal for me. The great talks you can catch up on online, and the real value in attending is being immersed amongst your peers. The big ones I feel tend to be hard to develop meaningful acquaintances at. The rockstars are seemingly cliquey or surrounded by "groupies", the startups want money, the investors aren't interested if you're not a startup or rockstar and it all adds up to feel a bit too... Schmoozy. Sleazy even. Perhaps it's just me. Perhaps my perspective had been skewed by one event in particular that I'd attended more than once (I won't name names).
Building for the future
Luckily The Big M conference was not too big to provide the right level of intimacy for people to mix it up and get to know each other. I definitely loved that. What was also great were the students and recent graduates in attendance. The level of ambition in these guys and girls really astounds me. One was already involved in a business incubation scheme straight after graduating. Another, only in his second year of studies, was already thinking of an MBA! I recommended Bath 🙂 And of course our very own alumni Storm got out of their awesome office to be there in force.
It made me realise that, even in a small way, I'm part of a higher education system that helps these guys and girls get to where they are now. That's something to be proud of.
I really hope The Big M conf guys continue to offer incentives for students to come along, especially the local ones. It's great to meet them in a context where they are themselves and talking about their next steps, and not just as one of our students on campus.
Big Up the Big M
So there were some minor imperfections to a great day overall. The lack of wifi being the first, that funnily enough I wasn't that surprised at somehow, but these just aren't worth going into. I am hoping to be there again and am really grateful to Web Services for sending me and a bunch of my colleagues along, and for the Big M Conference guys for making it worth our while.
It's great to have an event like The Big M in Bath and I hope it continues to stay here!