SoCraTes UK June 2021

I had a long drought between when I was last able to just attend a conference (rather than running a session or organizing) and SoCraTes UK in June. A year I think? And what a welcome rain it was.

Heloá hosted a session on meditation. I recognized many of the symptoms she described as her motivators for picking up the habit from a talk I did about introversion years ago. And the mindset she described (trying over succeeding, recognizing reactions without trying to impose a particular one) echoed back to a conversation on stoicism that Sanne Visser hosted at the first TestCraftCamp. I was completely convinced by the benefits she described ("People say I sound calmer. I'm breathing more deeply.") but I haven't built a habit around it yet. C'est la vie.

I went to two different sessions Maaret Pyhäjärvi hosted. (Does this make me a groupie?) The first, an ensemble testing session, reminded me that the most valuable exploratory testing bugs come when you understand enough about the business and the architecture to know what matters to some person who matters. The second session was about scaling workshops (and really, herself). I joined late after the lightning talks ended, but still helped plant the seed of what I and SoCraTes can do to bring more people into learning about good software.

I selfishly hosted a "help me out here" session in the afternoon. As I predicted, the testers extraordinaire Maaret and Lisi Hocke were exactly the people I needed to give me perspective on my current and evolving role at work, though the other attendees contributed as well. I came away with more questions than answers, which I'm still mulling over and digging into weeks later. I look forward to sharing more about the shape of things as they come to fruition.

Alexander (What is your last name?? Sorry!) held a session on habits you've developed or changed during the pandemic. How lovely it was to be in a small conversation trading notes about remote music lesssons and holding remote workshops. It was exactly the kind of hallway conversation I'd be looking to fall into at a flesh-and-blood conference.

I didn't write down who gave the lightning talk about saying no, but thank you. I rarely (never?) regret saying no, but I needed that extra push and specific language to have those "If you want me to pick this up, which of these things should I be putting down then?" conversations I've had lately. I have "Saying no commands respect" in my notes, and I guess I need a throw pillow of that too.

SoCraTes reinforces for me how a welcoming, inclusive open space is done. It's through explaining what an open space is for people who haven't attended. It's who's on the organizing committee. It's reminding people to take time off from the sessions. It's about ending up in the "Rose Garden" at the same time as Eva Nanyonga, who's working to improve the dispatching of home helathcare workers in Uganda, and finding out you sparked her curiosity and delight in the exploratory testing session earlier in the day. It's about providing a subsidized ticket option to make the event accessible to more people. It's in offering advice to the hosts at the start, such as:

  • ask for help facilitating
  • kick off the discussion
  • include everyone in the conversation

Thank you for holding this space. It's got me excited to host the open space that TestCraftCamp has evolved into, Friends of Good Software (FroGS Conf) in September.