Ulf Wendel

JS Unconf Hamburg 2014


What happens when you take a well known receipt for unconferences, a group of young motivated and talented chefs, some 300 attendees is in the photos below. Some call it, the JavaScript Unconference Hamburg (JS Unconf). Some say, they had seasons in the sun. All I know is, I’ve been there and will come again!

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The menu delivered by the chefs is as tasty and sophisticated as that of a commercial conference but it does not cost you a fortune. For some 40,– Euro you get two days packed with talks, intensive discussions and nice fellows. It is the people that drive an unconference and that becomes obvious the very moment you get involved. People know their jobs, they know your problems as they experienced the same. People have something to share and they want to share to with others!

How it works

Like the PHP Unconf Hamburg, the JS Unconf takes place at a building of Hamburg university in the hearth of Hamburg. On Saturday morning everybody gathers in or around the “bath tube” in the lobby area to propose sessions. Then, voting starts to find the lucky ones that run their discussions, talks or whatever has been proposed. Six lecture rooms that can fit 50 to 250 people each are available and there are up to four rounds of sessions per day. Despite the large number of slots it is not easy to get elected – the level is high. And, there is no program comittee that could prefer a big name or a sponsor over a just brilliant session. Elected gets only what’s hot to the very audience at the very day: AngularJS, Hoodie, React, …

Being unfamiliar with the JavaScript celebreties, I cannot give a list of big names spotted at the event. I managed only to identify one of the uber-names with Jan Lehnardt (CouchDB, Hoodie), a solid group of well known PHP experts that also do JavaScript work, or the all-mighty Kristian Koehntopp (working with a group of ’40 sufficiently crazy nerds’). However, my first, random click on the program and slides shows that the speaker has once written a book. Need I say more about how these ‘small’ events compare to the ‘big’ ones? Small means some 300 tickets sold, 300 arguments to join next year… get your ticket in time, it was booked out.

New: lightning talks

The fresh group of JS Unconf chefs has spiced the event with a change: lightning talks. It is a clever change inspired by two observations. First, some topic and thoughts worth sharing and presenting do not fill 45 minute slots. Also, giving a 45 minutes show takes some serious time to prepare depending on the topic. Second, many people have to travel back early on Sunday afternoon, which means they are forced to leave in the middle of a talk.

The talks took place in the “bath tube” with everbody enjoying the show and leaving whenever need be. They absolutely delivered what to expect at an Unconf: ranging from request for help, to presenting a thought or showing how to monitor your power consumption using RasperryPI, toys and stuff! Just watching how people use a 12” notebook to share slides when no beamer is available was worth it.

It just works…

I have a hard time saying much about the event as it just worked! The organizers Robert Kowalski, Robert Katzki and Robin Drexler have had help from Hinrich Sager and Ekkehard Dörre. The latter two have helped to run numerous PHP Unconferences at the same place before. Consequently, everything was running smooth as usual yet with nice tweaks from the new chefs. They just do it right. They just don’t run out of beer, their party is where all the parties take place, it is easy to get to the event, beamers and WIFI works, the food is tasty and healthy, they have weird soft drinks such as rhubarb, they serve first class fair trade coffee, people are relaxed and friendly – they learned their lessons in the years before…. More of this, please!

Credits to sponsors!

No such event, no such low ticket price without the sponsors. Thank you, …

Happy hacking!

@Ulf_Wendel Follow me on Twitter

29/07/2014 – Added official figures: 342 tickets sold, 294 appeared on Saturday.


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