Why RobotsConf?

With the launch of the JSConf US 2013 website, we (Laura and I) announced that we were setting up a new conference series called RobotsConf that would help ease and acclerate the connection between the software world and the maker movement. The two worlds stand almost at odds with one another with amazingly deep technical events like JSConf, RubyConf, and PyCon on one side and Maker Faire on the other. Attending a Maker Faire (or any hardware event for that matter, even NodeBots Day) is a scary proposition for someone who is entrenched in a higher level programming language. Somewhere along the way, we became myopic and focused on the higher levels of abstraction afforded us by previous generations.

This became all to clear to me as I watched the resurgence of hardware hacking due in large part to Rick Waldron's fantastic Johnny-Five Node.js library. Simultaneously one could witness the sheer giddiness of hands-on development battling with the internal panic and fear of erupting into electrical flames from shorting a 9V battery. Questions flew threw the air by some of the greatest software developers that to a hardware developer would seem almost insulting or annoying. It was in this moment that I felt much like I had back in 2008 when we first started JSConf.

At SaferAging, my current place of work, I have the luxury and benefit of having a foot firmly planted in both the high level, big data, buzzword-laden client and server development world and the up-and-coming Internet of Things hardware space. On a daily basis, I am juggling callbacks and git commits with bench power supply leads and spec sheets. So for me, personally, it became readily apparent that I was a rare bird that can witness and live in both sides of the equation. It also became very obvious to me that the rising trend within software to dabble with hardware dovetails perfectly with the rising trend to Internet-ify hardware through either 802.11, Bluetooth LT, or other similar protocols.

Software developers, myself included, pride ourselves on our ability to create amazing things in a short period of time and with continually increasing ease. That said, when you "ship it" the thrill and excitement of the moment tapers to zero overtime because (almost) everything in software is ephemeral and fleeting. One of the greatest joys I have experienced is soldering an internet-connected baby mobile to fill a very much need of my own. It is a joy that continues to give (every sleep filled night) and we can see, touch, and use every day. There is something far more cathartic, for me at least, in creating hardware devices than I ever had with software. I wanted to share this feeling with other developers.

When creating JSConf, we were very focused on just JavaScript developers, who at that time did not have a place to gather and build a core community. With RobotsConf, we wanted to not just bridge software and hardware, but work on bridging the fiefdoms within software development itself. All too often are our news sites filled with "X is better than Y" or "Z sucks, use W". I have spoken about ending this negativity and RobotsConf was a perfect opportunity to convert those words into actions (and events). By bringing everyone together for a topic all are excited by and yet all are fearful of, maybe we can start over, make friends, and build a better and more connected developer community.

The event is designed to be a perfect introduction to hardware not for a specific programming language, but for all programming languages. We are purposefully inviting language and platform specific experts to the event to ensure that attendees can build the hardware of their design and connect it up to Internet services all without leaving the safety and comfort of their preferred programming language. The event is designed to be a great welcoming event and survey to the entire Maker Movement from 3D printers to quadcopters to Arduino hacking and the Intenet of Things. The sheer volume of items introduced and presented at RobotsConf far outpaces anything we have ever attempt previously, but we are doing it so you, the attendee, can get the perfect sample of all things in order to determine which best fits you.

RobotsConf is about bringing software developers together to experience the joy of making real-world things. It is not yet an event that employers will necessarily be ready to send you to, much like the original JSConf was, but it will be - I promise you. Once developers are able to step outside of the digital world and affect change, show status, or creating things in the real world, development and development options are forever changed.

We are heading forward to a more exciting world in the developer space, one that is no longer confined to servers or laptops, one that is real, one that is RobotsConf. Come join us.