I attended Twitter Flight on October 21, 2015. It was one of the finest events I'd ever seen.
My interest in Twitter and attending this event lay solidly within their available data, which I use for my personal project, Twitterscap.es- and whatever else is available in that realm. When applying for a ticket, they made it clear that they wanted to know what relevance attendee's work had with their platform. After submitting Twitterscap.es as my sole connection to them, I was able to buy a ticket. I was also able to attend "#ILookLikeAnEngineer," a panel discussion on diversity at Twitter and tech at large, the night before, hosted at their headquarters. In short, that day I, and a whole bunch of people from around the world, entered the ranks as a Twitter Developer (though not working FOR Twitter, an important distinction.) That day I got to dive in and soak up, to the best of my capacity, this thing of which I had only previously merely scratched the surface.
While my work is web-based, Twitter, it seems has flown from that like an old hat, and is solidly hedged in Mobile. Goodness, I had thought, I didn't realize that the web had become so antique. Well, it hasn't really- it's just that Twitter is a big guy that's trying to lead everything, and I had only been aware of this for a few hours. Mobile is where the top is, even if the rest of us still use and care about websites - as many people will for years to come. What made Twitter's marriage to mobile so apparent? There was zero web content at this conference, but at the keynote, there were 2 hours of excited announcements, including updates to Fabric, Twitter's mobile development platform, including Ios/Android Crash Tracker, error logging, Support for the Unity IDE, Regression Tracking, and fast track to the App Store. There were announcements about native video ads in your apps through the Mopub ad marketplace, new ways to sign into services (Digits - use just your phone number,) and finally, a little bit about my friend Data with the launch of Gnit which is audience and engagement tracking at a very high barrier to entry - bummer.
Much of these featurettes could be added to your apps just by dropping in a few lines of code. These lines of code. Easy peasy. We really love our app developers! W00t! But nothing about web content.
It's ok. I've just started writing an app for iOS. Because obviously, I can, even if I don't know it.
My brain hit the scrambled-eggs effect around 2:30, after the keynote, a couple of sessions about Data, and an emergency run back to the hotel to grab shoes that would not continue to destroy my feet. It's okay though. While I wish I could have just sat there like a dry 3-ton sponge, I maxed out and was left to my introverted, awkward, full brain to amuse itself among 1500+ strangers. None of what I learned was anything close to the kind of information I thought I would get there, anyway. Instead, I had been practically blindsided by information related to exactly how close I was to new competency- to how easy it could be to get started, to how many tools would be available from a platform / company I was familiar with would provide, and to how rewarding and rich that journey could be because it has immediate relevance. This is like what web development was like to me in 2003, when I had first started that. And look where that got me!
The party afterwards had been set up in a plexi perma-tent where breakfast and lunch had been served, but there was barely elbow room with all of us in there. A creative Gin and Tonic bar, other open bars, a candy bar, multiple buffets, pinball (& other vintage arcade games) pizza being passed around, and trash removed from your hands by people, all to the music of a very accessible DJ (who was also proud to be there, judging from all the pictures she was having taken,) made it one of the most obviously considered parties I have ever seen. Being that it was also Back to the Future day, they had brought in a Delorean for taking pictures. You know, cool accessories. They had gone all out. I mostly played Kermit the Frog, since I didn't know anyone. I floated about looking at things, people watching, feeling the energy of 1500 excited developers. It was special. Then comes the time when the alcohol has kicked a few times and suddenly it becomes time to look for a partner-for-the-night to party with and cuddle up with. It was fun to watch this for a second, but that was, and is always, my cue to call it a night.
I left with the sense that renewing my career and sense of self as a Woman in Tech was always a little easier and a little closer than my exhausted mind cares to acknowledge. Try something. Move forward. Be smart about it, like a detective. Give up if you want, but don't *just give up. Learn a thing. Taste it. If nothing else, have some stuff to talk about later on. Get to the end of something, even if that something is your boundary. You don't have to break it, but do give it a little push. And get back to your desk exhausted.