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I get regularly chided by some friends on Twitter and Facebook when my updates and messages seem to include things that are quite foreign to many people – and in reviewing a few of the more egregious posts, they are absolutely correct.  So, to head off what will be a small barrage of posts the rest of the week, I wanted to put a quick post together on the CodeMash conference that I’ll be attending Wednesday through Friday.

What is CodeMash?  It is a regional/local conference (Sandusky, Ohio) for software developers (i.e. the “Code” in CodeMash).  But is is quite different in that it offers, allows, and even encourages programmers of all different “flavors” (e.g. Microsoft (.NET), Java, Ruby, PHP, iPhone, etc.) to present – this is the “Mash” or mashup.  A “mashup” is typically an application that takes functionality from different sources and puts them together in new and exciting ways – even if the different pieces were never really designed to work together.  So this, in my opinion, is the genius of this conference – you can have a main focus on one set of technologies (and my “bread and butter” is Microsoft) but still get a great taste and experience of what the rest of the industry has to offer, and come out better because of it.

January has many different conferences and meet-ups like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with all the new gadgets for the year, MacWorld with typically new computers, iPods, software, and even the Detroit Auto Show with all the new cars (we need some real excitement there).  But if I could be at any of them in January I would pick something like CodeMash because is the one that really only works well when attended in person.  I can read the press releases from CES and MacWorld and get 90+% of the information that I need. CodeMash is about learning from others, interacting with others, and really following the personal flow of what is important and interesting to an individual. 

There is also the opportunity to attend and even present in the Open Spaces area of the conference.  This is where impromptu presentations and discussions happen around topics that are of interest to the people that are there at the moment, and the content and timing of these sessions can not be predicted in advance.  It is a weird idea if someone is used to just being a “consumer” at a conference, but when you start to see the conference as “collaboration” and “community” then you really start to be fully a part of the group.

Finally, there is the whole “Twitter Tribe” and “Facebook Folks” aspect of the conference.  That is, there are some people that I’ve met only briefly (or never met in person at all) but follow and lightly interact with online. CodeMash is a chance to really put faces together with people and have the richer personal interaction that builds relationships with other people who share the same “craft” and many of the same interests.

So if I stray into “geek speak” over the next few days oblige me a little bit and I can explain more when I get back and see you face to face.