So, this was my first ever development convention. I gotta say.. it was pretty awesome and I’m not sure why I haven’t gone to one earlier. In this post I’m going to try and explain what GopherCon is, why you should go next year, and some travel tips that may help you.

So.. What is GopherCon?

It’s a convention! More importantly, it’s a convention of Gophers who are all passionate about coding in Go. Many are open source contributors, all are open source consumers. If you are interested in meeting people in the community this is the place to be. If you couldn’t make it this year, see if you can next year, it’s definitely worth it. Heck, maybe you can get your employer to foot the bill because you will learn a lot! I almost immediately started applying things I learned to my codebases to learn more about them!

If you couldn’t make it to the convention or to all of the talks you wanted to attend, don’t fret! SourceGraph did live blogging live blogging and all of the talks were recorded [links to come as they get posted]. So, if you were freaking out because you weren’t able to keep up in taking notes or you really want to attend Kat Zen’sHow Do You Structure Your Go Apps?” and Filippo Valsorda’sAsynchronous Networking Patterns” but they both happened at the same time (totally the dilemma I was in, I picked Filippo’s), the talks were all recorded and will eventually be available online! Kelsey Hightower had a great talk on Going Serverless which I am very interested in implementing in my side projects.

All work and no play makes a sad Gopher. There are parties on the schedule each evening. Monday’s was at the Denver Performing Arts complex and had free food from some awesome food trucks, pool tables, fooseball tables, bocci ball, corn hole, and Jenga towers. There was also the one and only live GopherCon band. If you are musically inclined (or think you are and want to get up on stage) anyone can be part of the band! They played some awesome cover music and a bit of live karaoke. The ending was a smash hit!

Why Should You Go?

But why should you go if everything is put online after the convention? The short answer is that the experience you have and the immersion in this convention culture will gain you friends and expand your network. You don’t stop talking about a talk you attended when it ends, you find out other people you are getting together for a meal also went to that talk and you get differing viewpoints on the topic of discussion. These alternate view points help drive home the purpose of the topic — to get a discussion started. The topic in a talk isn’t the answer for the topic itself. It’s a starting point; a spring board to innovation and collaboration around an idea.

If you are new to Go, this convention is a welcome wagon of sorts. It’s an intro course for ideas you may be familiar with and a deep dive into topics you’ve never thought about. It exposes you to the online Gopher community and culture of inclusion that I’ve rarely seen in online communities. Everyone wants to help everyone else. Everyone wants to contribute to everyone’s ideas.

There’s also a Gopher Slack (go, click and join right now… I’ll wait). This community is awesome! It’s a global community of Gophers that all want to make Go better and be better at Go. This community is the hub I go to now for all things Go related. Got a question? Ask! Got a problem? Discuss! Got a solution? Share! Maybe you can overcome that huge problem you’re having and present it next year at GopherCon’s community day or as a key note!

During the convention you have the opportunity to meet various vendors and the speakers to get to know them, learn about what they are doing and make some new friends! You also get to meet the faces behind the users in the Gopher Slack community (you joined right?). There is so much I learned about various products, what other companies are doing, and more about Go than I ever expected to learn here!

SO. MUCH. SWAG. Aside from awesome stickers, shirts and other swag, there was a raffle this week for a Microsoft Surface Pro, Oculus Rift, and an iPad! Sadly, I did not win any of these. But, someone at my table did win the Oculus Rift. The positivity at the convention was alluring.

Sadly, since this was my first GopherCon and I didn’t know how it worked, I missed Community Day. But, this day is a day for the community with lightening talks, hackathons, and meetups. There is so much going on I wish I could delay my flight and book another night just to continue hanging out with these awesome people doing cool things I’ve never done before, while also continuing to meet new people and learn new things.

Travel Tips

So, this was my first GopherCon. It was my first convention too. But, it wasn’t my first time flying out somewhere for a long period of time. If you travel a lot, go sign up for TSA Precheck it’ll save you a lot of time getting through TSA if you do frequently travel.

All the points! Book where you get points and fly for points. I am a Starwood Preferred Guest (referral link!) member. They recently merged with Marriott so you get benefits across 29 or so hotels so you have a ton of hotels to choose from!  I generally fly Delta so I’m a Delta SkyMiles member. They recently teamed up with Lyft (referral link) to offer SkyMiles points when you link your Lyft and SkyMiles accounts!

Lastly, leave some room for swag! I got lucky and was a smidge below the 50 lb weight limit on checked bags (although, my bag is also ridiculously heavy). If it is over when you go to check it, you might be able to shift some things to your carry on to get it under the 50 lb (22 kg) limit. Pro-rip: Rolling your clothes saves room in your bag.

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