Ben Summers’ blog

Ruby Manor 4.0

I’m a firm believer that the best conferences introduce new ideas by being for people who do a particular thing, not by being about that particular thing.

Ruby Manor was one of those best conferences. Rather than talking about the Ruby language, Rails, or the latest gems, the presentations were about ideas from outside Ruby, with suggestions on how they might be applicable to Ruby developers.

In fact, there was so little about Ruby itself that the running joke was “this is a wonderful functional programming conference!”

While I accidentally stumbled across a way of selecting topics, the Ruby Manor organisers had a plan and some software, Vestibule. This collected talk proposals, prompted discussion on ideas (leaving the presenters anonymous), and then took a vote on which should be presented on the day.

My theory is that people voted for topics that were new to them, so naturally the talks which were new to the majority were chosen. But whatever happened, it worked extraordinarily well.

I’m a strong believer that every developer should be proficient in a dynamic language and a static language, and have a working knowledge of a functional language, a stack based language, and an ability to read assembly language. While you wouldn’t necessarily use all these things in your work, knowing about them gives you a perspective on computing that helps to solve problems in elegant ways.

Apart from a lack of a deep dive into the fine details of machine code execution, Ruby Manor delivered on all counts.

And not only were the talks great, but the attendees were great too. You don’t often get to talk to so many people doing interesting things, who work with multiple languages, and think about their craft so carefully.

I had a lot of fun at Ruby Manor. I’m looking forward to next year.


PS: Do any of you wonderful ployglot programmers want a job?



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Hello, I’m Ben.

I’m the Technical Director of Haplo Services, an open source platform for information management.


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