CodeMash 2022

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CodeMash (3)CodeMash was different this year.

The pandemic forced changes to many tech community events, and this conference did not avoid the struggles.

Many speakers and attendees pulled out due to exposure to COVID or travel restrictions where they live. Some sponsors pulled out when to avoid the risk and the lessened impact of a smaller conference. Although I always look forward to this conference, I considered staying home and was only sure I would attend after I received a Negative COVID test 4 days prior to my travel.

I am sure the organizers considered alternatives this year. They could have canceled as they did last year; or they could have created a virtual event, as so many other conferences have done. But CodeMash has always been about personal connections, so they moved forward with an in-person event, knowing that participation would be lower and not knowing how much lower.

I have no official numbers, but it looked to be about half the size of a typical CodeMash. From a macro level, this was fine. The earlier CodeMash events were small, so they had a better sense of community, and it was easier to connect with other attendees and speakers. But from a personal perspective, I missed getting together with so many people that I only see at this and similar events.

CodeMash (1)Decreased ticket sales and sponsorship resulted in a net loss for the event. Fortunately, CodeMash carries a surplus each year, so they were able to cover this. They eliminated some of the extra perks to cut costs, but I did not miss the coat check room or the shuttle bus or the bacon bar.

Despite all the uncertainties, I enjoyed CodeMash 2022.

I delivered a presentation "Effective Data Visualization" Thursday morning, and it was very well received. The room was so full people had to stand in the back and I received many good questions and lots of good feedback. I used to do a lot of public speaking but have done very little in the last 2 years. I was nervous after this long layoff, but I drew energy from the crowd. I wrote this talk years ago and delivered it many times in the months after I created it. But this was my first time in some time, so it was enjoyable returning to an old topic with which I was once intimately familiar.

CodeMash (2)I attended a few sessions, including some interesting talks on Data Science, Drone API development, and Alexa apps. But I always get more out of hallway conversations at these events, and I learned a great deal talking with technologists one-on-one.

CodeMash officially runs for 4 days. The first 2 days are "precompiler" - half-day or full-day workshops. I chose to skip those days and work from my Sandusky hotel room. This allowed me to keep up with my current project at work, minimize vacation days taken, and still go out in the evening with friends I had not seen in a long time.

It was about 10 hours round trip and I am glad that I made it!