Realtime Conf 2012 sold us on attending Realtime Conf 2013 in Portland. To close Realtime 2012, Adam Brault's "Lucky Bastard" monologue pushed the audience to leverage the amazing skills and industry to build the world they wanted. The end of the monologue had a cellist and violin; then a local children's choir joined in. Perform your craft, make the world better, go out and build the world you want. The closing of Realtime 2012 was a resolution to an amazing conference. We awaited 2013.
Realtime 2013 was a continuation of the previous year. At opening, Adam was on stage with a celloist and violinist. After being marched through the city with accompanying marching band (as is tradition), the theatrics of the conference began. A theatre presentation ran in parallel with the conference. The opening presentation was the in-character emcee ; he would narrate, as his character, both the real conference and the parallel story. The ConfBill, customized welcome letter, and personal passport stamp are artifacts demonstrating that Realtime Conference is not your average conference.
Realtime Conference is a human representation of the art and craft of being a maker (a'hem you mean "artificer").
The "Real Presentations"
The opening keynote on experience, design, and freedom of technology was delivered by Aral Balkan: we are at a crossroads. This talk opened the discussion of data ownership and creating meaningful experiences, and blended greatly with the theme of the ongoing play between the members of the Tech Republic and the invasion of Silos and developers going missing to the likes of Adrian Spencer. Oh, and we're all cyborgs.
WebRTC was by far the hot technology topic of the conference (including its accompanying WebRTC camp after the conference). In short, its a technology allowing browsers to connect and communicate directly to other browsers. As a new web technology, it lacks widespread support and has yet to settle some browser-specific quirks, but opens the web world to interesting meshy decentralized ideas.
Another common topic is the art of self-owned cryptogrophy and enabling the browser to send only encrypted information to the server. Considering the security of server-encrypted data has become quite questionable recently, this drew a good amount of interest.
As owning your own data was another big topic of the conference, XMPP was given a fair amount of attention on how to own and control the data you put onto the Internet, but yet still enable others to automatically connect and discover what you publish.
For a list of all presentations, see http://2013.realtimeconf.com/video/
Tip of the Hat to Culture
The culture at Realtime Conf is different. Everyone approaches the table as equal and insightful. Eran Hammer used an elaborate lunch/presentation on the second day to demonstrate the human element of creating. He shared his prized experiences as a foodie from great chefs to show how they do more than create food, but rather create a full experience for the guest. He proved that the tech community can (and should) look outside the tech community in learning how to create and share experiences. The culture is inclusive, brings you into the discussion, and lifts the thought collectively.
The MongoHQ Roadtrip
Three MongoHQ team members made the trip. To get from San Francisco to Portland, we opted for a road trip. On Thursday, we drove up the 101 on the coast. On Sunday after the close, we drove to Bend, Oregon. Finally, we visited Crater Lake on Monday, and made our way back to San Francisco. Conference road trips -- the only way to travel; particularly in the Pacific North. It is easy to forget how large the world is and how rare and small our cities are when you travel only from airport to airport.