New tech event, Abstractions is forward-thinking

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Preparing for my first open source conference

The folks at Code & Supply put on a fantastic inaugural event in Pittsburgh this year. They sold 1500 tickets, their maximum, a few weeks before the event took place in downtown Pittsburgh at the Westin Conference Center. Pittsburgh is a walkable city with beautiful soaring art-deco buildings and approachable eateries. Residents of other riparian cities will feel right at home with it's sporadic grids and pleasant, but not overwhelming, humidity. 

Speakers came in from all over to join local coders and community builders at Abstractions. The agenda included new faces as well as industry veterans and conference circuit regulars, albeit from several different circuits. There was a particularly nice tweet from Joe Armstrong, (the inventor of Erlang and the Thursday morning keynote) who was delighted to finally meet Larry Wall (another invited speaker and the inventor of Perl) over dinner during the conference weekend.

In addition to the big picture musings from FOSS's forefathers, there were plenty of talks from the community's younger luminaries. Allison Randal keynoted about free software, Casey West spoke about containers, and Jono Bacon advised attendees on how to build community. There were talks on many familiar tools and languages like Node, Kubernetes and Docker, Javascript and API's.. and yet, this wasn't quite your regular "open source" event. Lots of talks covered newer languages like Elixir, Lua, and even Windows Powershell. The human side of technology was also well-represented with engaging talks on how to safely introduce your kids to the Internet, how to juggle parenting and coding, and at least six talks that focused on how to build software with more user input.

Abstractions was a decidedly forward-looking conference. Girl Develop It was there to help new coders with their questions. There was onsite Yoga for Engineers, because it's never to early to start stretching and stave off the stiffness of computer-hunch muscles. A lot of the audience was either young or young at heart. There are no official numbers, but at a glance, I'd guess there were at least as many attendees sporting candy-colored hair as khakis. Plus there were puppies (really!) and a sticker swap. Add in a robust Code of Conduct, a "students welcome" attitude, and then make it easy to attend by giving out seventy-five scholarships? Well, it sounds like a recipe for building a friendly, healthy, and sustainable community for collaborative coding and hacking.

The folks at Code & Supply will host another big conference in 2018 as well as smaller events in 2017, all of which will be announced on their mailing list.

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Deb Nicholson wants to make the world a better place with technology and social justice for all. After many years of local political organizing, she started handling outreach for the Free Software Foundation and became an enthusiastic free software activist. She likes talking to developers about software patents, to project maintainers about leadership and to activists about free software.

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Great article and I really like the Yoga for Engineers as it was yoga that got me "straightened out" about four years ago from my "hunch" that was giving me splitting headaches. I love that they scholar-shipped students too. I noticed students at LinuxConNA and I think that's a really important part of the mix.

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