Tech.Ed: use your geek to better develop

Summary:Microsoft's technology and education showcase, Tech.Ed, officially kicked off yesterday and the opening keynote focused on a matter other than the conference's cloud theme — using developers' geeky attributes to their advantage.

Microsoft's technology and education showcase, Tech.Ed, officially kicked off yesterday and the opening keynote focused on a matter other than the conference's cloud theme — using developers' geeky attributes to their advantage.

Jared Green shows Tech.Ed a clip of Beached Az
(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Hosting the keynote and sharing his own geeky anecdotes, Adam Spencer said that Tech.Ed was celebrating the qualities that make geeks who they are.

"There are many things that define our geekiness," he said. "I'm talking qualities like passion, obsession, relentless curiosity" — qualities covered by the three keynote speakers Jared Green, Jayne Cockburn and Matthew Magain.

Green, who is the mind behind the popular animated series Beached Az, spoke about how the tendency for geeks to be curious was the driving force behind the development of the series, as the series propagated through the internet, a medium he called curiosity's playground.

He said that it was only because of the internet as well as the infrastructure and software that developers like those at Tech.Ed had made available, which made Beached Az a profitable project.

"To think that a small-time film-maker from Sydney could reach millions of viewers ... was just unheard of 10 years ago.

"[Curiosity will] come in many different forms and many different times. [It] will always be asking that question, 'I wonder what?', 'I wonder if?', 'I wonder what's next?'. When [it] comes, listen to that, embrace it and take it on board. There's always a different way to do what you're doing today."

Cochlear senior product manager, Jayne Cockburn, said that geek's obsessive nature was key to the developing technology behind the Cochlear hearing device. She told the story of Graham Clark, the inventor of the first Cochlear device, and how his obsession to help his father, who was going deaf, resulted in a product that has the ability to change lives.

"People like you are still creating that sort of meaning in people's lives," she said.

Geek children's book author, Matthew Magain, said that the geek attribute of wanting everything to be perfect shouldn't be viewed as a weakness, saying that perfection is not "the enemy of done".

"I don't believe in it, I don't subscribe to it. Project managers and entrepreneurs and business types will say to developers, with the best of intentions, in order to encourage them to get a product that's good enough to ship," he said. "The problem is, I think it forces us to lower the bar."

Magain said that when it came to personal projects, geeks should be allowed to embrace perfection, challenging developers to consider what projects they owed themselves to approach with perfection in mind.

"There are occasions when perfect is what we should aim for and nothing less is good enough," he said. "If it's worth doing, it's worth perfecting."

Microsoft Australia's managing director, Pip Marlow, came out as a gamer and geek at the keynote and urged attendees to use the qualities found in geeks to do something more.

"There's incredible opportunity to take those ideas, that desire for perfection, and do something incredible."

Topics: Microsoft

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A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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