This past weekend in Seattle a small group of tech folks gathered to talk about the work they do while away from the computer. Unlike a lot of tech conferences, there were no discussions of APIs or frameworks, no in-depth analysis of App Store sales figures or phoney-baloney social marketing doublespeak. 360|intersect was about the people, their passions and getting inspired to do great things.
I might be a little biased, as I was the first speaker, but my talk on magic and technology had less to do about technology and was more about astonishment -- that fleeting feeling when you see something magical and your brain flips out and you feel like a kid again. Similarly, speaker after speaker came up to talk about their passions outside tech, with practical lessons they have applied in their careers in tech.
Robi Ganguly spoke about how he grew up with asthma, but wound up training for a marathon. Kirby Turner took a long break from work to hike the Long Trail. Michelle Yaiser from Adobe races cars as a hobby. Doug McCune created several types of physical art for the event, all around his passion for geographic data mapping. Jon from Orbotix talked about how working on a top-selling fart app landed him a job making games for the Sphero. Josh Michaels (maker of Magic Window and other apps) spoke about customer support and the art that goes into his products. Mike Lee closed out the event with a passionate tale of his journey from before and after his stint at Cupertino, and the challenges of making great games with limited budgets and bouts of insane hubris.
In addition to the talks, John and Nicole Wilker, the folks behind the 360 conferences, arranged a fun tour of Seattle aboard a duck (a modified Army truck that is amphibious), and a couple of dinners for the attendees. What's great about a small conference like this is that everyone gets a chance to talk to each other, and the outings are focused, but fun.
If you're looking for something beyond the normal tech conference and events like SXSW are too big or expensive, I encourage you to keep an eye out for the next 360Intersect. While all of the 360 conferences are useful, I think Intersect is really special for the community and inspiration it gives attendees and speakers alike. But don't take my word for it -- attendee Jay Baird wrote a great piece on his experience, as did Kirby Turner. I hope to see you at the next one!