Jon Bach's STAR East 2010 Recap
I was a speaker at the STAREast conference, held during the last week in April this year. It was held in Orlando like in past years, but this time at a new facility - the Rosen Shingle Creek which was HUGE. Everyone seemed to remark at how big the space was and how long it took to get from the rooms to the actual meeting spaces within the hotel. One colleague invested in a push scooter that he used to cut down on trip times. The thing was, he remembered that the power of the conference is walking and talking with colleagues, so he wound up scooting slow enough to talk with others as the conference unfolded.
The highlight of the conference for me was James Bach's keynote: "The Buccaneer Tester: Winning Your Reputation." And yes, it's is hard to say that and sound dispassionate, but I've seen James for many years and this was his best - entertaining, gripping, and soulful. He started with a clip on what an expert tester meant to him. Building on that premise - of expertise, of reputation, he revealed that although it was well known that he is a high school dropout, he has an expert witness for to provide testimony on the side of the states in the famous States v. Microsoft case. They settled before James could testify, but his point was that despite being a dropout, it was his reputation as a software expert that made him a secret weapon in that case.
The quote that was bandied (and Tweeted a great deal) was "If you're not interested in building your reputation as a tester, good luck in the fast food industry", underscoring that in today's economy, the allure of cheap testers overseas is so great that if you do not stand out as being more valuable than the commodity of testing labor found cheaply elsewhere, you are likely to be easily replaced. James encouraged everyone to start building their public persona via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, responding to tester challenges online, writing articles, and taking a stand on controversial issues by commenting on blogs and discussion threads.