try{harder} Level Up

try harder level-up, March 19th - 23rd

Are you ready to Level-Up?

March 19th-23rd: try{harder} Level Up is a conference with a difference:

  1. 5 days, 4 nights.
  2. 8 try{harder} mentors who took part in the original try{harder} and want to share it with…
  3. 8 new try{harder} participants who want to level-up.
  4. Everybody teaches, everybody learns.
try{harder} is a unique collaborative learning experience: everybody teaches one session, everybody learns in the other sessions. We also pair-programme, live, eat and create alongside our inspirational peers.

You can read more about how try{harder} came about here, or skip straight to the Level Up conference details.

Why this, and why now?

We actually decided to run try{harder} Level Up almost as soon as we’d returned from the original event in October. All 16 members of the original meeting wanted to commit to a repeat event in 2012, and we felt that it would be ideal to run it as a ‘closed’ group – we’d been changed by an incredibly rich experience and wanted to pick up from the same place next time.

But the experience also felt too valuable not to share. try{harder} was the best conference we’d been to. We’d learned more in those 4 days than at every other conference we’d ever attended, put together.

So, it was suggested that perhaps the people who would benefit most of all would be those who are right on the cusp of becoming ‘advanced’ developers. People who will be the fresh faces on the conference circuit in a year or two, given the right mentoring and an opportunity to learn not just about their discipline, but also about learning itself.

And then Adobe murdered our baby

I’d intended to launch the Level Up conference in November. And then there came the week of the Adobepocalyse, and it felt like there were more urgent conversations for our community to be having.

In the weeks following, what emerged was a feeling not that the conference was irrelevant, but that it was more relevant than ever before: we need to be ready to deliver projects in different ways, with stronger meta-skills and a broader understanding of the problem space we operate in than ever.

We don’t know what we’ll be doing 2 years from now, except that it won’t be what we’re doing today. In that context, a conference that covers a wide range of advanced development subjects as seminars, where you also benefit from the insight emerging in the questions of fifteen of your peers from different backgrounds, feels like an excellent fit.

Do you want to try{harder}?

Pound (or dollar or euro) for pound and hour for hour, try{harder} will surpass any other learning experience available. You’ll also work with a try{harder} mentor to create your own seminar. So if you’ve ever wanted to speak at one of the major industry conferences, this is a chance to get the kind of experience that can make that possible.

We expect that you’ll become a member of the try{harder} family – with ongoing access to mentoring and advice from a diverse range of experts.

You’ll build relationships with other inspirational developers, and if you’re lucky then it can also lead to future work. Dominic (@devboy_org) recently moved to San Francisco to work with Alec (alecmce), as a direct result of the time they spent coding together at try{harder}.

One of the things that emerged out of try{harder} in October was that many of us feel driven to work on meaningful projects, and this is something we hope to be able to collaborate on in future.

But don’t just take my word for it – read for yourself:

What to tell your boss

If you’re selling this idea to your boss, they probably don’t want you dreaming about running away to join the try{harder} circus… but we do use each other for confidential consultation on technical problems; having a network of advanced developers who willingly lend their experience when you encounter something new or unexpected is invaluable.

Because of the size of the group, in every session you can ask the questions that make it relevant to the challenges you’re facing at work right now.

If you’re a mid-to-senior level developer you should leave try{harder} Level Up ready to lead projects. If you’re already a senior developer you’ll go back to work more effective, more efficient and more flexible than ever.

In his article “No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering”, Frederick P. Brooks analyses the key factors in creating great Software Designers – the people who don’t just write code, but creatively determine what code should be written (we probably refer to them as architects or technical leads). It’s worth reading the whole article but the part you need your boss to read is this final summary:

How to grow great designers? Space does not permit a lengthy discussion, but some steps are obvious:
1. Systematically identify top designers as early as possible. The best are often not the most experienced.
2. Assign a career mentor to be responsible for the development of the prospect, and carefully keep a career file.
3. Devise and maintain a career development plan for each prospect, including carefully selected apprenticeships with top designers, episodes of advanced formal education, and short courses, all interspersed with solo-design and technical leadership assignments.
4. Provide opportunities for growing designers to interact with and stimulate each other.

try{harder} is a high quality, concentrated dose of point (4), picking up point (3) and creating opportunities for (2) along the way. All you need now is for your boss to identify you as advised in (1)!

[The article was written in 1987, but is cited in Peter Norvig’s (head of research at Google) piece “Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years” which is also worth a read.]

We understand that it’s a lot of money if you’re freelance

Shaves as close as a blade or your money back.

Shaves as close as a blade or your money back.

We’re self-employed too! We can see that although, on paper, it’s good value for 4 days of small-group learning (even before you consider the fact that it includes accommodation and some food), £1300 still feels like a big chunk of money. So here’s a deal: if you don’t feel that the conference has paid for itself within the six months after it, I’ll give you 2 days of my time, free, as a refund, working remotely on any AS3 project you choose.

About the Author

I'm an actionscript programmer living and working in a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales, UK. I used to be a TV reporter, but my inner (and often outer) geek won. I also write stuff. Most recently Head First 2D Geometry.

Visit Stray's Website

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