NewCrafts Paris

NewCrafts Paris was phenomenal.

During the pandemic I received an email inviting me to consider speaking at NewCrafts, Paris. As anyone who follows me on social media will know I’m immunocompromised, and for the last few years that means I’ve been very restricted. My situation is still somewhat less than perfect, as I still mask, I can only travel outside of flu season and I have to take a number or precautions; but it’s better now than when it was when I got that first email from Maxime.

I explained my situation, apologised and turned down the opportunity. Not the first, and not the last. I figured that would be the end of it.

However Maxime was understanding, and his replies reflected that. A couple of years later, he emailed me again to see if the circumstances had changed. This time, I could respond with a resounding yes. I’m really glad I did.

Day One

After an uneventful trip on the Eurostar (which I am now a big fan of. It’s much better than a plane) I arrived in Paris. I settled into the hotel and headed downstairs. The first evening there was a speakers dinner, which I was nervous about as I hadn’t met any of the speakers or organisers of the conference before.

There are little communities that spring up around certain conferences or groups of events. If you speak at a number of events, you’ll get to a point where you’ll recognise a couple of faces if the event is around a familiar topic area. Historically I’ve spoken at quite .NET focused events, and the Developer! Developer! Developer! conferences. A part of the appeal of NewCrafts was that it’s a completely new community for me. Well… appeal because meeting new people is interesting and provides opportunities to learn; but also some apprehension as I don’t find social situations easy. I find it intimidating to talk to people I am not familiar with and as such, I know I don’t make a winning first impression.

I did not need to be worried though. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. I had a really enjoyable night getting to know some of the speakers. The food was delicious and it was a very low pressure, fun dinner.

I had an early night, to be ready and bright for my talk the following day.

Day Two

The morning of Day Two brought the time for my talk. I explained to the organisers that I preform talks best early in the day (as I get anxious if my talk is in the afternoon). They kindly accommodated for this and made sure I was supported to be at my most confident.

This was my first in person talk since before the pandemic.

With the exception of hosting DDD East Midlands conference, this was my first in-person talk since the pandemic. This was the first time I had presented my own content, in- person, on stage since the pandemic began. Nervous didn’t begin to cover how I felt about it. I was worried I wouldn’t know how to deliver a talk anymore, that I was out of practice.

These nerves only grew as the room began to fill up. Peter did a great job at helping distract me and make sure I was ok before the talk.

For the talk itself, I’m proud of what I produced. I ran a bit fast (I talk fast when nervous) and I missed some of my planned content; but the talk seemed to go across well. From the feedback I had after, the attendees enjoyed it and found the content valuable. I’ve taken notes on how to improve and will be applying them at NDC Oslo next week.

I liked the way that NewCrafts handled the ratings. Simple and elegant. Pieces of paper with axes for Liked and Learned, and sticky dots for the attendees to position where they thought was appropriate.

Votes from the talk

Once the adrenaline wore of (or close enough), I got to enjoy the rest of the conference. I made the most of the opportunity to see a number of talks.

Going to the conference was really good for me as seeing the talks, as well as presenting my own, injected me with enthusiasm for what we do and how we do it in this industry. It’s easy to lose the sense of magic in the day to day repetitive tedium, and I’d recommend an event like this if you start to lose that sense of magic too. I also spent some time talking to some of the speakers at the event, hearing more about what they deal with and work on. All of it was immensely inspirational.

Diana Montalion’s lock-note “Don’t Hit the Iceberg” is a talk I would recommend for any tech leader or architect to watch. It was a powerful talk and a fitting close to the first day of the conference.

That evening I took part in the Women Tech Makers, Paris event. This was hosted at NewCrafts and was a Panel discussion on the topic of Craft Culture.

WTM Paris Panel

Yulianna Khorolich and Adriana Nava Aguilar ran the event fantastically and asked questions of the panelists who were: Laura Kalbag, Dorra Bartaguiz, Krisztina Hirth and I. The conversation was really interesting and everyone at the event were engaged and took part in some of the back and forth. It was refreshing to be at a Women In Tech event where the focus was about a range of diverse characteristics beyond gender, and how to work and grow in tech.

It was a great end to a brilliant day, though I was exhausted at the end of it all. I had a lovely meal out that evening and went to look at the Eiffel Tower, with its glittering lights. When in Paris…

Day Three

Day Three of NewCrafts was as good as the day before.

I did arrive a bit later, as I wanted to get some macrons while in Paris (a guilty pleasure of mine. I love them), so I took time early in the morning to enjoy the sun and walk up the Seine. During the day I needed to do some work for my day job as well. Nonetheless, I made the most out of the time I could and attended talks between my work commitments.

As well as seeing some fantastic talks, one of the highlights was a short conversation with Anaelle Ea. Anaelle had been at the Women Tech Makers meetup the evening before where I encouraged people to talk to speakers at conferences, and I’m glad they then acted on that advise the next day. I won’t share here what we discussed but the interaction made me really happy and I hope to keep in touch going forward.

Kevlin Henneys lock note was a great wrap up. His talk on Technical Neglect fit in nicely with the theme of a number of the talks and is an area I have particular interest in.

Last Notes

NewCrafts was an amazing experience. The organisers, volunteers and videography team were lovely and very professional. NEWCAP was a brilliant venue and the security staff were really nice. Additionally the quality of the talks and speakers at the event were phenomenal.

There are a number of posts about the organisation of the conference and the inspiring work they’ve done to ensure a level of diversity at their events, so I can’t do much more justice on that topic. What I will add is that the event was a really safe environment. Every person at the event was welcoming, respectful and helpful. It’s a wonderful community.

I haven’t given any detail on the talks I saw, as there are many I want to catch up on on Vimeo and honestly, I don’t want to spotlight specific talks when the quality of all the talks was so high. I was honoured to share a stage with these speakers. I still can’t quite believe I was lucky enough to be listed alongside them.

I will definitely be applying to speak at the future NewCrafts events and I really hope I’m fortunate enough to come back next year.

Watch the talks

You can watch recordings of all the talks on the New Crafts Vimeo.

Stay inspired.