When Strange Loop Makes Your Brain Melt

The power of continuing to push when it comes to learning

Courtesy Victoria Gonda

I recently has the immense pleasure of speaking at Strange Loop, a conference that I’ve been attending for years. I keep returning to the conference for numerous reasons. First off, it’s the first tech conference I attended where there was a sizeable female population in attendance so, early on, I felt quite comfortable. Second, and probably more importantly, Strange Loop is one of the few, non-Ruby-centric conferences that I attend and I’m so grateful for the myriad of tech this conference has exposed me to.

Like in past years, within five minutes of the opening keynote beginning, numerous words and terms I’d never heard before started popping up. Because of this, halfway through the keynote, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to follow along for much longer. This dilemma presented me two choices - give up, tune out, and do other things OR tune in closer, try to pick up the gist of what I could, and jot down notes of possible things to learn about later. At Strange Loop, I always choose the latter option because that’s what Strange Loop is all about. Whether someone has been in the industry for one year or 20, the conference always offers new, challenging, brain-meltingly phenomenal content. It always exposes conference goers to new languages, new thinking paradigms, new patterns, or just plain awesome activities with a technical angle. (both this year and last year included amazing talks about knitting, but with a highly technical component).

Collective Idea - Strange Loop - Victoria - Laura - Allison.jpg

This year I went to talks on things like biohacking and generative painting. I also learned about the Dickerson Pyramind and black-box AI explanations, was introduced to strong ideas and resources related to coding for good, and how to be a public interest technologist. And, of course, I met some fantastic people.

Some talks I followed all the way through, some were work applicable, and others were just out of the box and fun to watch. For a good handful of them, I only understood some of the talk, but was focused so intently on the speaker’s words and slides that I didn’t even have the capacity to take notes. That’s what conferences are for though! They’re all about pushing yourself forward, getting you to the next level, and inspiring you to keep learning. Don’t ever be intimidated by content. Embrace it and be excited by the things you don’t know yet.

Photo of Allison McMillan

Allison was first introduced to programming at a Rails Girls workshop after a career as a nonprofit executive. She is also an international conference speaker living in the Washington, DC area. When she’s not writing code for us, she invests her time leading the People Committee which focuses on the health and happiness of our team members!

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