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Agile Open Northwest: The Hidden Gem of Developer Conferences (And Why You Should Care)

When someone recently asked me for "must-attend" developer conferences, one immediately jumped to mind: Agile Open Northwest (AONW). It may not have the flash of a giant expo, but this small, intimate gathering (100-300 people) has become a highlight of my professional year.

What Makes AONW Different?

AONW is an Open Space conference, meaning no pre-set schedules or keynotes. Instead, attendees propose and lead sessions based on their interests – a concept that might sound chaotic, that actually works incredibly well. The open format fosters organic, passionate conversations you won't find at traditional conferences.

AONW also goes beyond "just agile." While the Open Space format is academically interesting, what keeps me, an introvert developer, coming back is the hardcore technical focus. Big-name coaches and thought leaders show up every year, leading in-depth talks, workshops, and late-night discussions on everything from AI-driven TDD to novel productivity metrics.

My AONW 2023 Highlights (Just a Taste)

  • Mind-Bending AI & TDD:  Hours-long, hands-on sessions with Llewellyn Falco pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible.

  • The Human Side of Agile: Woody Zuill's conversations were thought-provoking and inspiring.

  • Gamifying TDD: Witnessing the creator of the TDD game be surprised by how others played it was a unique experience.

  • The Future of Generative AI:  Discussions with industry leaders were eye-opening.

  • Mentoring the Next Generation: Meeting an eager CompSci student and a passionate high school teacher reminded me why I love this field.

  • Networking That Matters: AONW is where I've built some of my strongest professional relationships.

Beyond the Sessions: A Community Like No Other

The real magic of AONW is the community. It's a place to reconnect with old friends, forge new bonds, and build a network of like-minded, brilliant individuals. These relationships are invaluable for everything from career advice to future hiring opportunities.

Why You Should Consider AONW

Whether you're a seasoned developer or just starting out, AONW offers something truly unique. It's a chance to:

  • Learn from the best: Gain insights from thought leaders and experienced practitioners.

  • Expand your network: Connect with peers who share your passion for software development.

  • Explore new ideas: Engage in open, honest discussions about the future of our industry.

  • Reignite your passion: Be inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of this vibrant community.

If you're looking for a conference that goes beyond the usual buzzwords and superficial networking, AONW is a hidden gem worth discovering.  I hope to see you there next year!

I think AONW is amazing, your mileage my vary though. You get out of it what you put in. Of course without you it's just an empty open space.


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