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Talbott Blog

"Fear of Programming" at RubyConf 2008

The trek to RubyConf has become something of a yearly milestone for me, as I’ve been making it now for eight years running, a period that encompasses more than half of my professional life. So far it hasn’t let me down, either in learning or in meeting interesting people, and this year was no exception.

One of the best and hardest things I do every year is to give a talk, and this year the topic was Fear of Programming. After getting very positive feedback on my pre-presentation of it at the October Raleigh.rb meeting I was pretty excited about giving it to the wider RubyConf crowd. I think the results were fantastic, but you don’t have to take my word for it – I was surfing Google for the talk the other day and ran across all kinds of great feedback:

Marty Haught (search for “Fear”)

Friday was probably the best day of the conference for me. I really enjoyed Fear of Programming by Nathaniel Talbott and it seemed the audience did as well. There were no slides and Nathaniel did a great job of going over his latest musings on how fear keeps us from being our best when programming. I think we can all relate in some form or another.

Peter Dierx

Great session from Nathaniel Talbott.
This session could be applied to everything that people want to excel in, and the fears that come along with it. Here it’s about programming of course so the audience was asked what they feared about the app. All kinds of answers. Code base in general, deployment, sloppy testing or no tests at all. What about security, or testing your code in different browsers. People were very honest about it.

James Avery

This talk was something I am very familiar with. […] It was a very open talk with no slides and lots of audience participation, it was almost like an open space.

Ariel Valentin

This was a pretty engaging talk. No slides just us.

The Twitterverse also had some nice things to say:

So, do I mention this all just to toot my own horn? Well, I’ll readily admit that it’s very rewarding to give a well-received talk, and that I’m enjoying sharing my excitement with you. But my main motivation is simply this: to get you to listen to and/or watch the talk! I think it’s a really important topic, and I want an even wider audience to get exposed to the ideas and questions within so we can make it an ongoing conversation in the community rather than something everyone thinks they struggle with alone.

Are you juiced to check the talk out? There are two spots to experience it: you can watch and/or listen to the RubyConf version over at Confreaks, and you can also listen to the pre-presentation I did at Raleigh.rb which is available in the Raleigh.rb podcast.

One last teaser: I’ve been asked to give the talk as a keynote at a conference early next year, and I have some fun ideas for how to make it even better. Watch for that announcement and I hope to see you there in person to continue this conversation!