FutureRuby Talk: “Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism” [Updated]

Update: There’s a link to a video of the same talk given at an agile conference earlier this year. See the end of the article for details.

Here are my notes from the FutureRuby presentation titled Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism by Brian Marick.

Sticker: "Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho Syndicalism"

  • This talk is about economies and (dis-economies) of scale
  • The idea behind this talk got started around 2000 – 2001, when I visited agile projects and people on the teams would say things like “This is the best project I’ve ever worked on! Why do it any other way?”
  • Then, two years ago, I talked to someone who’d been doing Scrum for a year and he said “At least my job doesn’t suck as much as it used to.”
  • Hearing stuff like this, people like me – the Agile Old Guard – we get distressed. We’d much rather hear what people used to say
  • The problem is that the economies of scale that drive corporations to be larger and make more money are also diseconomies for the people working within them
  • I will differ from what Nathaniel [Talbott] said in his presentation. I believe that even the wage-slave can know “joy-in-work”
  • What used to be present in Agile projects that’s gone missing in new ones? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism!
  • "Yes it’s true, not everybody immediately grasps what I mean."


  • First, let’s consider what “anarcho-syndicalism” is
  • Consider an agile team. The see themselves as alone in a dangerous place, where no one else is offering any help.
    • It would be nice if a “daddy” swooped in and help save them from the mean people
    • The are problems with this approach: it’s pathetic, and it often doesn’t work
  • Here’s a story for you to illustrate things:
    • An agile team was made to work in cubicles, like the rest of the company
    • Agile methods aside, cubicles are the "single worst arrangement of humans and objects in space for the purpose of developing software"
    • The team proposed changing their workspace to an open one
    • Furniture Police turned them down
    • In response, the scrum-master went to the office over the weekend. She disassembled the cubicles and changed the office layout to an open one. On Monday, she declared to the Furniture Police that “If the cubicles come back, you will have to fire me.”
    • They gave in
  • Anarcho-syndicalism is a political/economic/trade union movement
  • It peaked in 1923, and was crushed by the U.S. government in 1924
  • “Anarcho” comes from “anarchy” — they wanted to see government go away
  • “Syndic” refers to a trade union – they wanted to replace corporations with trade unions, or more simply, they wanted to see corporations go away
  • Anarcho-syndicalism has these principles
    • Worker self-management:
      • Workers decide how to control factory
      • They’re not fans of hierarchy in general
      • The aforementioned “Cubicle Incident” is an example
    • Direct action:
      • It’s about not waiting for “daddy” to swoop in and save you
      • It’s about taking action – doing something and then saying to anyone who disagrees “What are you going to do about it?
      • There was a difference of philosophies in the labour movement over direct action:
        • Some believed that they should elect/influence/bribe elected officials to pass laws to ban the burning down the houses of people on strike
        • Other believed in a more direct form of direct action: beat up or kill the people who tried to burn down the houses of people on strike
    • Worker solidarity:
      • This is the one principle that wasn’t followed in the cubicle incident
      • The scrum master could’ve been fired
      • Under worker solidarity, the entire team would’ve said “You’ll have to fire us all!”
      • (That’s okay, though: “Scrum masters are not hard to come by” – you’ve seen the courses: "Two days, $2000, you can be a scrum master!")
  • I invert the anarcho-syndicalist flag
    • I do it to reflect something the original anarcho-syndicalists didn’’t care about: team scale
    • I believe that teams should band together more
    • Sometimes it’s "our cursed individualism" that gets in the way, the need to be the Ayn Rand hero — we’d be a lot more effective if we could get past that
    • I am advocating teamsmanship
    • We need more power in the hands of the team to counterbalance the power in the corporation
    • Remember, power can be used for good, evil…or stupid
    • If the team is completely inwardly-focused, they will do stupid things
      • Completely inwardly-fcoused teams devolve into fighting over things like who gets the workspace with the most light
  • There needs to be a manifesto for software craftsmanship, to move from journeyman to master

Plate of artisanal cheeses

  • Let’s now consider what “artisanal” is
  • It’s all about the cheese
  • As an artisanal cheesemaker, I care about cheese
  • I want to make really good cheese for really good people who will enjoy the cheese
  • I care about the cheese!
  • The interests of the executives in an organization are not necessarily aligned with the owners (shareholders) or the pesky customers
  • The teams working on a software project for an organization often care more about the project than the organization’s executives do – in the software field, they are the artisanal cheesemakers
  • We – as metaphorical artisanal cheesemakers — care about the cheese, which means “we should get away with the things we want to get away with” because these things help us get our work done

Retro-futuristic cityscape

  • Now let’s consider what “retro-futurism” is
  • The future ain’t what it used to be
  • Look at all the old science magazine articles about the future: flying cars, cities underwater and on the moon and robots that clean the house. Only one of them came true!
  • "We have 60 years of envisioning the future, and all we got for it was the Roomba"
  • The unfulfilled promises are now part of popular culture: “Where’s my jetpack?"
  • Retro-Futurism is about having optimistic images of the future
  • The spirit of retro-futurism is in Infinite in All Directions by Freeman Dyson
    • Chapter 2 is pretty good
    • The book is really good at conveying a sense of possibility
    • It says that you keep finding new things when you go in the small direction, towards the sub-atomic, but you also find new things in the big direction too, towards the universe
    • You also find new things as you go outward and see the interesting complexity of life and social organization
    • It says that there’s no end to what a curious scientist could discover
    • It is permeated with a spirit of hopefulness
  • As for you and me:
    • We’re limited in most directions
    • I want to us to try to convert ourselves to infinite in all directions””
    • Holding conferences like FutureRuby is one way to do this
    • One way not to do this is to listen to people like me
      • I once had a …vigorous debate…Ron Jeffries about test-first programming
      • It was about what programmers would rather do – would they rather write tests or new code? I kept saying that “test-first is never going to work”
      • I also said: ”In two years, you’re going to ask yourself whatever happened to all those unit tests? They’ll be gone — it’s just the way the world works!”

Painting: "Liberty" (from the French Revolution)

  • As programmers, we’re used to working within constraints
  • The context in which we work makes agile hard – we need to change the context
  • Remember, you drive the context, not the other way around!
  • I’m asking you to be scrappy in defense of producing the cheese you care about, to do what you can to do the best work you can, to make the best software you can, as enthusiastically as you can. I’m asking you to practice Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism
  • How do you do it?
    • By getting back to your workplace?
    • By harnessing the (useful) madness of crowds
    • By proselytizing the good word of Artisanal Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism
    • By visiting, the “global headquarters of the movement”

See the Video!

There is a video available – while it’s not the presentation Brian gave at FutureRuby, but one he gave at an agile conference earlier this year, it’s pretty much the same.


The Unofficial FutureRuby Guide to Toronto, Part 2: The FutureRuby Venues

The Unofficial FutureRuby Guide to TorontoWelcome to the second installment of The Unofficial FutureRuby Guide to Toronto! This is a series of articles aimed at showing out-of-town attendees of the upcoming FutureRuby conference around our fine city. (It’s useful even if you’re not planning on attending the conference).

In case you missed the previous installment, it’s here:

You might find last year’s Toronto guide for RubyFringe attendees useful as well:

  • Where did all the cigarettes go?
  • Getting from the airport to the hotel
  • Boozin’ in Accordion City
  • The lay of the land – part 1
  • Best damn cookie in town
  • Active Surplus aka Hardware Nirvana
  • The lay of the land – part 2
  • The unofficial IRC back-channel

      This article will give you a quick run-down of all the conference and party venues: where they are, what they’re like and how to get there.

      Conference Hotel: The Metropolitan Downtown

       Metropolitan Hotel Toronto

      FutureRuby will take place at the Metropolitan Toronto Hotel, where RubyFringe took place last year. If you attended RubyFringe, it’ll be a happy homecoming. If this is your first conference at the Metropolitan, you’re in for a treat.

      As I wrote in last year’s article series on RubyFringe, Toronto has two Metropolitan Hotels, and they’re a short distance from each other. FutureRuby’s venue is the Metropolitan Toronto, whose address is 108 Chestnut Street, which is behind City Hall, on the edge of Chinatown. If the hotel entrance looks like the photo above, you’re in the right place.

      Soho Metropolitan Hotel EntranceThe other Metropolitan Hotel is the Metropolitan Soho, located at 318 Wellington Street West. If the hotel looks like the photo to the right (click to see a larger version), you’re in the wrong place. Both are owned by the same hotel chain. The Soho is the hip, swanky one near the club district and the Toronto one looks more like a traditional hotel and caters to both business and Chinese clienteles.

      (In this article series, whenever I refer to “The Metropolitan”, I mean the Metropolitan Toronto.)

      The conference setup at the Metropolitan is pretty nice. The conference hall is in the basement, fits the conference’s numbers nicely, and the entryway to the hall is stocked with water, coffee and ice tea throughout the day. There’s a continental breakfast just outside the hall before the conference starts, and the lunch food is excellent – it’s the best conference lunch I’ve seen at a developer conference, with the notable exception of the Fall 2006 Ajax Experience’s venue, the Westin Boston Waterfront, and that conference cost over twice as much. Of particular note was the Chinese lunch, which wasn’t a surprise – the hotel’s main restaurant is Lai Wah Heen, a Chinese restaurant, and it’s a popular venue for Chinese weddings (I’ve been to a couple here, and the food was great).

      The hotel is situated right in the middle of town, which puts it a stone’s throw from a number of places. I’ll write more about these places in a later article.

      You might also want to see my article from last year, Getting from the Airport to the Hotel.

      FailCamp: Queen City Yacht Club

      Aerial view of Queen City Yacht Club

      FailCamp will take place at Queen City Yacht Club on Algonquin Island, one of the Toronto Islands. The Toronto Islands weren’t always islands – once upon a time, they were a peninsula jutting out from the mainland from east of downtown, but a big storm in the mid-1800s separated them from the rest of the city. Most people get to the islands via ferry or water taxi.

      The current strike by city employees means that there is no ferry service to the island, but that’s not going to be a problem. Queen City Yacht Club has its own launch – they call it a “tender” – that can carry just under fifty people at a time.

      Queen's Quay TerminalThe launch typically picks people up from the dock just east of Queen’s Quay Terminal (207 Queen’s Quay West, the building pictured to the right). If you’re facing the front of this building, the dock is just to its left. I don’t know the exact details, but if you’re going to FailCamp, I suggest arriving at Queen’s Quay Terminal early, going to the dock to the left of the building and looking around for FutureRuby people or signs; I’m sure they’re going to take care to make sure that they’re really obvious.

      I believe that the launch will be running continually throughout the night to shuttle people between Queen City Yacht Club and the mainland, but there’s a water taxi nearby, just in case.

      Queen City Yacht Club clubhouse, as seen from across the lagoon

      The venue will be Queen City Yacht Club’s house clubhouse (pictured above), a large place with a nice large outdoor deck overlooking the water and the city. It offers some great vantage points for taking photos of Toronto. There’s a large barge permanently moored to a nearby dock; it’s also a good place from which to shoot photos or just stare at the lake.

      Unlike the other FutureRuby events, you should bring some money for drinks and get a bite to eat before FailCamp (your FutureRuby registration fees cover the food and booze at the other events). The Yacht Club’s bar will be open during the event; I recall that they generally have pretty good beer on tap. As for getting food prior to FailCamp, there are lots of places near the Metropolitan Hotel and in the Queen’s Quay Terminal building.

      Friday Night’s Party: Unspace HQ

      Unspace’s offices are the venue for FutureRuby’s official opening night party. It’s located above the Lululemon store, which functions as both a store for sportswear and a temple for whatever religion is practiced by skinny blonde women in yoga pants. Apparently the store also sells clothes for men, but I reckon that a guy wearing a Lululemon logo is asking to have his manhood challenged, A Boy Named Sue-style. Unspace’s door is just to the right of Lululemon and leads to a steep set of stairs leading up to the third floor. I’m sure that there will be FutureRuby officials outside to make sure people find the place.

      Unspace is located on Queen Street West (342 Queen Street West, to be precise), a long-time destination for people looking for someplace cool to go. Mike Myer’s character “Dieter” from his recurring Sprockets skits on Saturday Night Live was based on a real guy named Dieter who waited tables at The Rivoli (“Your order is boring me. I shall dance now”), a popular bar on Queen West. Perez Hilton needled Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas and got (justifiably) clocked here. I’ve had many busking adventures on this street. It’s a fun, lively place.

      Lululemon store on Queen Street West

      Unspace has a gorgeous office, with exposed brick walls, a vintage pinball machine, Pete Forde’s “I am a villain in a classic James Bond movie” office and a large rooftop deck that’s been the venue for a number of excellent parties.

      Saturday Night’s Party: Pravda Vodka Bar

      View of lower room and staircase at Pravda Vodka Bar

      Saturday night’s festivities will happen at Pravda Vodka Bar (44 Wellington Street East). This is the one party venue for which my first-hand knowledge is lacking owing to these factors:

      • I’ve been there only once
      • It was fairly late in the evening, the bar was packed, and I was already quite crispy from drinks at Biff’s, a nearby French restaurant with a lovely bar of its own.

      Upper floor bar at Pravda Vodka Bar

      I do remember a pretty good selection of vodkas. That’s to be expected; it is a vodka bar, after all. I had a couple of fingers of the Polish stuff straight up – the kind with a blade of grass in the bottle – and a pretty dirty Dirty Martini (a Martini seasoned with not just an olive, but olive juice).

      I have vague memories of the room: lot of red velvet, gold trim and pre-Glasnost kitsch, a contradictory mash-up of imagery of from the Russian Revolution and a set designer’s ideas for a stage adaptation of Anna Karenina. It made a nice backdrop for the crowd, who were by and large ranged from twenty-somethings in clubwear to forty-something well-dressed professionals. I remember dancing and playing the accordion along to the DJ, who was playing Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart (a song which turns twenty this year!).

      "Sitting room" area in Pravda Vodka Bar

      The Saturday night party is the “dress-up night” of FutureRuby. Bring something nice and nightclub-appropriate!

      Sunday’s Party: The Boat/Hotshot Gallery/Augusta Street, Kensington Market

      Montage of photos of Kensington Market

      Kensington Market is where the closing party will take place. It’s a lovely mishmash of secondhand clothing stores, fresh food markets, quirky shops and restaurants, patios and people’s homes. Here’s a slideshow of shots I took in Kensington Market last year; it should give you a “feel” for the place:

      Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

      It’s the home of a couple of great nerdy places, too:

      • Function 13, a funky store catering to arty nerds, with lots of books on design and design-oriented technologies such as Processing and Flash (maybe I should see if they stock Silverlight books, and help them if they don’t). It’s also where a lot of people take lessons on multimedia programming.
      • HacklabTO, Toronto’s very own hackerspace, where local nerds work on both software and hardware hobby projects, and where I sometimes work. It’s the home of the famous laser that does etching, cutting and even music playing.

      Hotshot Gallery

      The final party of FutureRuby will take place on a stretch of Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market. Augusta Avenue. Known venues for this street party will include:

      • The Boat (158 Augusta Avenue), a Portuguese restaurant that also doubles as one of Toronto’s best “secret” party spots.
      • Hotshot (181 Augusta Avenue) a gallery owned and run by my friend Karlen Chang, a spot that serves both excellent coffee and visual art.

    • Categories

      The Unofficial FutureRuby Guide to Toronto , Part 1: What’s That Smell?

      The Unofficial FutureRuby Guideo to Toronto

      Last year, for RubyFringe – the offbeat conference for Ruby programmers hosted by the local Ruby heroes at Unspace – I wrote a series of articles about Toronto for people who were coming to the conference from out of town. In the series, I pointed out places of interest near the conference hotel (the Metropolitan downtown) and little tidbits of information that might be useful to an out-of-towner.

      This year, Unspace is holding another conference for Ruby programmers. This time, it’s going by the name FutureRuby and once again, I’m posting a series of articles that collectively will make a quick little Baedeker about Toronto for the non-locals attending the conference. My hope is that even people who’ve live in this city all their lives will find it useful and entertaining.

      Upon arriving in Toronto, you may notice a certain funk hanging in the air. The strength of said funk will vary from block to block and will come from one of two probable sources.

      Probable Source Number One: Gene Simmons’ Man-Musk


      The first probable source of the smell lingering around town is Gene Simmons. Yes, that Gene Simmons. Gene has bedded many women:

      • His current long-term partner, Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed
      • The woman with whom he cheated on Shannon in that video that popped up on the internet last year
      • Former live-in partners Cher and Diana Ross
      • “Over a thousand women”, if his interview on NPR is to be believed

      While his Rock God status helped him land the ladies, I believe that what really draws them in his the musky aroma he exudes.

      Gene will be in town on the FutureRuby weekend in his capacity as Grand Marshall for the Honda Indy, which will take place around the Canadian National Exhibition, a short drive west of the conference hotel. An event featuring fast-moving, big, throbbing machines needs a grand marshall to match, and who could fill the role better than he?

      The Honda Indy will run from Friday, July 10th through Sunday July 12th, and it might affect you in the following ways:

      • You may be exposed to Gene Simmons’ man-musk.
      • It may take longer than usual for you to get downtown if you’re flying in from Toronto’s main airport, Pearson International Airport, on Friday. Lakeshore Boulevard, one of the major roads leading into town from the west, will be used as part of the Indy track and will be closed.
      • You will hear the echoes of race car engines all weekend. It’ll be a constant hum in the background during the day – not too annoying, but I thought you might want to know what that sound was.

      Probable Source Number Two: The Garbage Strike!


      The even more probable source of the smell is the garbage. As of today, Friday, July 3rd, the strike by Toronto’s municipal workers is in its 11th day. It affects a number of services, including Parks and Recreation, services at City Hall and garbage collection. There little to no smell downtown, but as you go to neighbourhoods where food makes the lion’s share of the trash, such as Kensington Market (where Sunday’s post-FutureRuby party is taking place), it sometimes gets a little ripe.

      If the strike goes on for another week and into FutureRuby:

      • Consider yourself warned about some potential stink.
      • If you’re from out of town, walking around the city and have some trash, please don’t litter or stuff it into our Saran-wrapped garbage cans; hang onto it and dispose of it at your hotel.

      How Will I Get to FailCamp if the Ferries aren’t Running?

      FailCamp, one of the events associated with FutureRuby, takes place on the Toronto Islands (Queen City Yacht Club on Algonquin Island, to be precise). The problem is that the island ferries are run by the striking city workers and are out of commission.

      Worry not – Queen City Yacht Club has provided the use of the Algonquin II, a launch that can shuttle almost 50 people back and forth between Toronto Harbour and FailCamp.


      FailCamp: One Week Away!

      FailCamp poster, featuring Sean Connery in his role as "Zed" from "Zardoz"

      If you were at last year’s FailCamp, you might remember the best story of FAIL of the evening, which involved warming up some “body lube” in the microwave oven for a little too long, after which hilarity ensued.

      Here’s how Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs, the originators of FailCamp, describe their vision of the event:

      We believe that it’s time to give our personal fail some tough love and talk it out over beer!

      Join us for a brief, rousing introduction followed by camaraderie, beer, and show-and-tell. We’ll present a little about failure through the ages, mining your personal suck, maybe some science, pithy quotes from people you may or may not respect, and share some failure stories of our own.

      Then it’ll be your turn. If all goes to plan, you may even win in our friendly “race to the bottom” for the most public, most expensive, or most ridiculous Story of Fail.

      FailCamp returns next Thursday, July 9th and once again, it’s the warm-up act for Unspace’s Ruby programmer conference (going by the name “FutureRuby” this year), which takes place on the weekend of July 10th through 12th. Just like last year, FailCamp will once again provide a forum for you to share your greatest and most pathetic stories of FAIL, and hopefully how that failure taught you some important lessons and made you a better, wiser, more-careful-with-the-lube person.

      joey_presenting_at_failcamp_1Me, presenting at last year’s FailCamp.

      Once again, I will be hosting FailCamp. I’ll start the evening with a couple of stories of failure, including a couple of Keyboard Cat-worthy ones of my own, after which I’ll open up the floor to you, the audience, to share your own stories of FAIL. Once we’re all thoroughly embarrassed, DJ Barbi will spin the wheels of steel and we’ll dance our shame away.

      There are some tickets left as of this writing:

      • For FutureRuby attendees, there are 4 free tickets to FailCamp remaining.
      • For those of you who are not attending FutureRuby but would like to catch FailCamp, there are 19 “Pay What You Can” tickets left.

      If you want ‘em, go to the FailCamp registration page and get them before they disappear!

      joey_presenting_at_failcamp_2My one-slide summary of how things went terribly wrong in the movie Deliverance
      (The link leads to the “Squeal like a pig” scene from the movie – you might not want to watch at work).

      FailCamp will take place at the Queen City Yacht Club on the Toronto Islands (Algonquin Island, to be precise). Your printed ticket stub is good for a free ferry ride from the Toronto docks to the Yacht Club, where we’ll have some finger food, the Yacht club’s kitchen and cash bar will be open, and the evening should be full of surprises.

      What better way to close an article about FailCamp than the Keyboard Cat video starring “Pinky, Pet of the Week”?


      FutureRuby and Failcamp: Register Now!


      Last year, the folks at Unspace held a fantastic Ruby conference called RubyFringe. They took the standard conference format, threw out the stuff they didn’t like, amplified the stuff they loved and kept the attendance down to around Dunbar’s number. The end result: quite possibly the best geek conference I’ve ever attended (a lot of the other attendees would concur). I wrote quite extensively about RubyFringe in this entry, and here are my notes from the conference:

      This year, they’re holding a slightly different conference called FutureRuby. They’ve described it as bill it as “an opportunity to prepare for the future by learning from the mistakes of the past”, and promise us that it won’t just be RubyFringe warmed over – we shouldn’t expect to find the same things in the same places! Here’s what the FutureRuby site says:

      We are the artists, philosophers, and troublemakers. We realize that the fringe of today is
      the mainstream of tomorrow. We grease the engines of progress, even when we’re working outside of the machine.

      FutureRuby isn’t a Ruby conference, but a conference for Rubyists. This is a call to order – a congress of the curious characters that drew us to this community in the first place. We have a singular opportunity to express a long-term vision, a future where Ruby drives creativity and prosperity without being dampened by partisan politics.

      FutureRuby runs from Friday, July 10th at 5:00 p.m. and officially end on Sunday, July 12th at around 11:55 p.m.. FutureRuby will also be paired with FailCampTO, which will take place on Thursday, July 9th (I’ll be MCing this event, and I’ll talk more about it in another post).

      The early bird tickets for FutureRuby, which sell for CAD$700, are already gone. The regular rate tickets, which sell for CAD$800, are still available, but probably not for long. If you want to attend FutureRuby, I strongly recommend that you go to the FutureRuby registration page and sign up right now.


      FutureRuby: July 9th – 12th, 2009

      First Came RubyFringe

      RubyFringe logo

      I can’t talk about FutureRuby without first talking about RubyFringe.

      Last July, the fine folks at Toronto’s Little Coding Shop That Could – Unspace – created one of the best and most memorable conferences I’ve ever attended: RubyFringe. RubyFringe made its mark by taking the standard geek conference formula and turning it on its head. Among the things that distinguished it were:

      • RubyFringe was intentionally a small conference, with its attendance capped at 150 attendees.
      • No sponsors!
      • It had a single conference track, and all presentations took place in the same room.
      • The presentations were vetted carefully by people who really, really, really loved the Ruby programming language. This meant that we got interesting speakers and no vendor pitches. We felt Damien Katz’ pain when he talked about his situation prior to creating CouchDB, grooved as Nick Sieger talked about the parallels between jazz and programming, and stayed glued to our seats as Giles Bowkett gave us his rousing call to action in his 400-slide extravaganza, even though he’d gone well beyond his allotted time and was cutting into lunch (it was that good).
      • They didn’t allow questions at the end of the presentations. In organizer Pete Forde’s words: “Our experience has been that questions are hard to hear, generally of poor quality, often just statements, and almost always an exercise in demonstrating how brilliant the questioner is while dominating the attention of the whole room.”
      • There was a “companion track” for attendees’ non-geeky significant others, where they were taken on a tour of the city while their partners were at the conference.
      • They served some of the best food I’ve ever had at a developer conference. The lunches were at the Downtown Metropolitan Hotel, and the big dinner at the Drake Hotel was beyond anything I’ve ever had at a developer conference.
      • The conference also included parties at some of the best spots in the city, some of which you wouldn’t find on vanilla tourist guides. Better yet, those parties were open bar!
      • Not only was there an opening party at a brewery, complete with stand-up comic, rock band and DJ, but there was a great closing party on Unspace’s roof.
      • The organizers paid attention to little details that set the conference apart, from giving everyone transit passes to heralding speakers as they walked on stage with the song of the choice to the giant polaroid montage featuring every attendee.

      The organizers’ decisions in crafting RubyFringe made it a high-quality, memorable and inspiring experience, and its carefully limited scale gave it a sense of community that I could almost describe as familial.

      Many people who went declared it the best conference they’d ever attended, and many who passed up the opportunity kicked themselves for missing it. Those pale next to the highest praise for the conference: the fact that after attending RubyFringe, a half-dozen handful of attendees were so inspired that they quit their day jobs to strike out on their own doing Ruby development.

      Now Comes FutureRuby

      FutureRuby comic

      With RubyFringe’s resounding success, it was only natural that people would ask if Unspace would be doing it again next year. They gave it some serious thought – the last thing that they wanted to create was a weak sequel. They didn’t want to simply rehash RubyFringe, but reinvent it, just as they had reinvented the developer conference with RubyFringe.

      So they reinvented RubyFringe as FutureRuby.

      FutureRuby will take place from July 9th through 12th, and will build on what RubyFringe accomplished. The organizers bill it as “an opportunity to prepare for the future by learning from the mistakes of the past”, and promise us that it won’t just be RubyFringe warmed over – we shouldn’t expect to find the same things in the same places!

      What else will it have?

      • Parties and nightly entertainment, three nights in a row
      • FAILCamp (which I co-hosted last year, and which I am invited to host again) is back with a vengeance, and an adorable sailor suit
      • “More better than” swag that you’ll be proud to wear in public
      • The return of the companion track for partners and secret lovers during the conference
      • An amazing two nights of lunches and dinners that you’ll photograph and tweet about
      • Loving attention to all of the details, like excellent wifi, transit passes, and no paid presentations

      All the details are in this post at Unspace’s blog, Rethink. You can bet that I’ll be at FutureRuby.