Hi, and welcome to our new blog. We’ll use it to update you on the progress as this conference takes shape, to highlight important points the day of the event, and revisit all of the happenings after the festivities of the day are over.

Yes, we have changed some things in 2019. Although we’re benefiting from fresh blood on the organizing committee, we still felt that we needed to zap the pram and incorporate some changes in order to continue to be a conference worthy of your time — regardless of whether this is going to be your first year, or you have been a long time participant. Times have changed, technologies have changed, we felt it time for us to explore new ideas as well.

So, let’s begin with what is not changing.

Pittsburgh TechFest has always been supportive and encouraging of first time speakers. This is not changing. We continue to look for and support those speakers that are new to our craft or haven’t had the opportunity to present before. We don’t factor how many talks you have given into our CFP evaluation process. If you have thought about presenting and haven’t done so before, please consider TechFest as the conference where you give your first talk.

Second, we are still looking for both technical/software/programming and agile/soft/people talks. Presenters still have ultimate freedom in the topic they choose and the depth they choose to dive. You can still live code. You can still be as technical as you like. You can still bring in a live band and pair program your next album. All of these things are still on the table, exactly as was in TechFest past.

What is different is that we are asking presenters to make clear their connection to the topic – to make the talk personal.

Why did we make this change?

The answer is simple. We agreed that our litmus for amazing talks are those that light a fire in us. A fire to research something new, modify our perspective on something old, or just plain change the way we think.

“React Hooks 101” is certainly an interesting TechFest talk, but we believe a factor that is equally interesting, and oft-missing from technical talks — is how you arrived at using the technology. What is it you personally found difficult about it? What do you love about it and why? What problem were you trying to solve? Did it inadvertently create new issues?

We want you to have a personal story attached to the thing you are talking about, full stop.

Software development is a journey, and we believe attendees want to hear a bit more about yours. We think “How basic React Hooks solved our year-long problem” has more potential to catch fire than “React Hooks 101”. We don’t believe this takes away from technical focus. We don’t think this inhibits forward-looking conceptual talks.

You can still discuss why attendees should care and why you think a technology or process or otherwise is important.

Start a fire.