CodeMash -- Day 1

January 7th, 2019

CodeMash Newbie

For the past several months, people have been recommending that I attend CodeMash, which is an annual tech conference that takes place in Sandusky, Ohio. Some of their selling points have included: cool people, a waterpark, and beer. These all sounded great to me. Some of my closer, coding friends have also said it's a great conference for volunteering. So I completed a volunteer application. I thought to myself, this would be a great experience to volunteer alongside people that I see in regular attendance at meetups/coding groups. It would be cool to bond with others outside of Chicago while working together. It's all about the coding bond! I also just enjoy any opportunity to learn something new, so I was excited about attending the conference.

I told my coworkers that I'd be out for a conference. A couple of people weren't familiar with CodeMash. One of the directors asked, "What's so special about CodeMash?" Besides my personal reasons for attending, I couldn't really answer. My lack of a thorough answer could be due to me simply being eager to attend tech conferences. Sometimes I take the conference intention for granted. I expect diverse information from a diverse group (juniors, seniors, developers, non-developers) through personal conversations and workshops. My first goal while at CodeMash was to figure out it's special factor. Why would it be relevant and worth the trip? Not very long after arriving did Brian Prince (Board of Directors President) welcome everyone and answer my questions. CodeMash is a conference for developers. It was started in 2007 by a group of developers that were tired of seeing pure Java or .Net conferences. The discussions were siloed. Consequently, this group of developers felt pigeon-holed by these environments. They were also tired of having to fly from Ohio to the regular, "hot" destinations such as Florida, Nevada, and California. Travel to these sites also meant an expensive price tag. So these developers set out to create their own affordable conference that would be technically diverse and that would showcase talent from the Midwest while staying in the Midwest, at the largest indoor waterpark in the Midwest. (And with that, I'm done typing "Midwest"). Anyhow, they've managed to remain 100% volunteer run. Everyone is dedicated to creating a comfortable space for people to connect outside of the usual conference scene. They also have a KidzMash event that happens concurrently. So it's a family affair. I don't know of any other tech conference that is as kid-friendly and held at a waterpark.

So, what do I plan to get out of this event? I have a few goals in mind -- some based on being a volunteer and some on based on being a developer. This will be a 2500+ person event (add another 1000 to include children). I'd like to know what goes on behind the scenes to make this event successful. Professionally, I'm looking forward to connecting with people from different backgrounds that have different interests. This event brings together a diverse group of people with varying skills, languages, methodologies, and experience levels.

Most of my time will be spent at speaking sessions. I plan on going to sessions about security, web accessibility, game development, IoT, and some unfamiliar languages, just to name a few.