by Ben Nadel
In The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David Schwartz tells us that to improve ourselves and our ability to think creatively, we need to surround ourselves with people of the highest caliber. I believe in this concept 100%. I believe that to become smarter, we must communicate with the smartest people; to reach our full potential, we must spend time with those who are the most accomplished; and, to become better, we must be around people that actively encourage us to break the boundaries of mediocrity and strive for improvement. I found that cf.Objective() helped me with all of these aspirations.
In the best meaning of the term, cf.Objective() overwhelmed me; it was all at once intimidating and invigorating, exhausting and energizing. Sitting there, listening to the brightest minds in our community, I felt both completely inadequate and yet, at the same time, full of more potential than ever. With each passing session, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to get home and start applying the ideas that were just presented. Each talk seemed to symbolize another milestone – each concept, another stop on my travels from journeyman to master. The conference not only presented the vast body of knowledge that I want to build, it laid the foundations upon which to build it.
Those of you who could not attend might think that my description is a bit poetic. But please realize that the crowd of attendees was small and an astonishing 20 percent of them were speakers. This means that each conversation, each group of programmers, each dining table contained some ColdFusion guru or Java master or security wizard or the creator of this framework or that framework; you couldn't start a conversation without inevitably touching upon a topic for which an expert was a mere foot or two away.
To speak only of intelligence would be to sell the crowd short; if the ColdFusion community is known for anything, it is the warmth and supportive nature of its developers. This is the online persona that we present and the offline attendees of cf.Objective() were no exception. In a sector where the brightest can often take a
"holier than thou" attitude, everyone that I talked to, both sage and student, proved eager and open to share. I discussed everything from tuning the JVM to first-born babies, from the intricacies of object-oriented validation to the simplicities of hand-carving wooden pens. No topic seemed too insignificant to discuss nor anybody too busy to talk. The whole event seemed just as much the anticipated gathering of good friends as it was conference.
This was my second year at cf.Objective() and I have to say that it was even better than the first. If you have never been to this conference, I advise you to make it a priority. Throughout the year, we live at our desks, behind our screens, coding furiously, and racing to meet deadlines. It is quite easy to lose our forward momentum and forget how important it is to keep our minds sharp and our eyes looking towards the future. For me, cf.Objective() is an inoculation against stagnation – both a reminder of how much more there is to learn, and the inspiration needed to move forward. I cannot say enough about the merits of this conference and its attendees, but I can say this: I'll see you there next year.
Ben Nadel is a super ColdFusion enthusiast, Adobe Community Expert, Adobe certified developer, and manager of the New York ColdFusion User Group. He blogs regularly about web development technologies and helps many developers though his "Ask Ben" column. He is also the lead software engineer at Epicenter Consulting.