As a child, I remember laying out on hot summer nights and staring up at the sky. I wasn't in a city then, so the stars, unobstructed, would spread out far beyond my periphery in infinite arrangements. The sky seemed so big to me then - so incomprehensibly vast; its endless expanse always made me feel small, but not in a negative way - not small and insignificant. It gave me this feeling in my stomach, a sort of uneasy desire. As a youth, I could only describe this feeling as lust or maybe even horniness. It wasn't until I got older that I realized what I had been feeling was actually "potential."
As a developer, there is potential all around me; with new frameworks, methodologies, languages, techniques, and emerging technologies, I could learn for three lifetimes and only scratch the surface. The potential becomes so overwhelming that it is, at times, hard to see and even harder to feel. In a sort of paralysis of choice, I have so many directions to go that I end up not going anywhere at all. I once again slip back into the welcoming embrace of the status quo - not moving back, but not moving forward either.
cf.Objective() has given me a wonderful gift; it has awoken in my that lust - that feeling of potential. It has removed the starry sky of my youth and put, in its place, an army of giants.
Jared said, at the end of one of the final sessions, "A conference is only as good as its speakers." That's what makes cf.Objective() so successful - the high quality of the speakers and the topics on which they present. These speakers, these intellectual giants of the ColdFusion community, not only served to inspire, they did something even more powerful - they embodied a concrete potential. Sure, they gave advanced talks in areas such as object oriented programming, the agile development process, and large scale deployment, but as a consequence of this, they provided very tangible goals. They not only shed light on subjects in which I knew very little, they demonstrated to me in a very real way that obtaining this knowledge was doable.
This was an awesome feeling. I almost didn't want to stay at the conference; by the end of the first day, I was so inspired that I wanted to run home and start trying many of the things I had learned. I was hungry for improvement. And, for the first time in a while, this kind of improvement felt not only possible, but eminent.
But, this inspiration wasn't just up on stage, it was all around me. I couldn't get over the high caliber of attendees; everywhere I went people were discussing topics like ANT, clustering, Java integration, frameworks, unit testing, and version control. I was surrounded by people whose skills seemingly overshadowed mine in very large ways. This became almost comically obvious at Saturday night's "ColdFusion 9" Birds of a Feather (BoF). In the session, people kept asking for things - new ColdFusion features - that made no sense to me; and when I thought that maybe these were just bizarre requests, dozens of other people would break out into applause - a sort of, "thank god someone finally brought that issue to light," kind of applause. I was simultaneously nervous about the amount of stuff that I didn't know and also excited over the amount of stuff I could learn.
In addition to being smart, everyone there was so friendly. When you primarily deal with the ColdFusion community online, you don't necessarily get a sense of who these people are; but, when you meet them face to face, it's almost shocking how nice everyone is. The ColdFusion community is such an inclusive group of people. There wasn't anyone there who seemed inapproachable, and there certainly wasn't anyone there who ever seemed less than jazzed to be there talking to everyone else. I felt bad that I didn't get to meet more people, but in the little down time that we had, I just kept getting caught up in conversation after conversation.
On the more mundane side of things, the conference, as an event, was run very well. The food was good. The audio/video equipment was very good and functioned without fail. The hotel was quite nice. My only real complaint was that there wasn't any bottled water after the first day. As someone who hasn't had soda in over two years, the beverage choices were a bit limited. But, I think when, "bottled water," is your chief complaint, you get the idea of just how smoothly everything else went.
Overall, cf.Objective() was most excellent; definitely a ColdFusion conference that I hope to be attending again next year. Thank you so much to Steven and Jared for putting on such an inspiring and useful event.