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Most Talks at Conferences are Entertainment, Not Tutorials

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Bjarne Stroustrup gave a talk on C++ 14 and beyond at Google a few weeks ago. The part I remember best was:

If you got Microsoft, Apple, and Google together in a room to discuss how to implement C++, that would be collusion and illegal. But if Microsoft, Apple, and Google are on a standards committee, that’s public service.

I recently read an interesting article about how, although Ted talks seem to teach you more than a boring teacher would, you don’t actually learn more from them. This isn’t quite true for tech talks: the smaller and more interactive the talk, the more you can learn. However, larger, more impersonal talks are more like entertainment.

Most talks at conferences are, or would be better for being, entertainment. People can’t learn that much from a talk anyway, so why not get them all fired up to learn more about the stuff on their own? A keynote or lecture at a conference should be technical, but should also engage the audience and get them excited. Conversely, a coworker explaining a concept to a half-dozen colleagues will fall pretty squarely in education.

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Published at DZone with permission of Kristina Chodorow, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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