Code Mesh London: conference review


6 January 2019

Short intro

Code Mesh describes itself the Alternative Programming Conference, stating its goal as "promoting useful non-mainstream technologies to the software industry."

I attended Code Mesh London 2018, which announced the following themes:

  • concurrency, multicore & parallelism
  • language
  • distributed systems
  • the history and the philosophy of computer science
  • infrastructure

Talks

Code Mesh fulfilled the promise of an alternative programming conference. Haskell, Erlang, Clojure, PureScript, TLA+, Prolog, and Idris all made an appearance. Talk subjects included generative art, formal specification of distributed systems, history and ethics of software development.

At the same time, there was an equal effort to showcase real-life scenarios that benefited from the use of these technologies. Attendees heard about Clojure-coordinated numerical programming on GPUs, solutions for distributed systems (data structures, validation, gossip protocols), and even the ops side (logging, chaos engineering, or dealing with consequences of company acquisition and resulting changes in infrastructure.)

Crowd

Geeky

Code Mesh is very much an aspirational developer's conference. It was a pleasure to attend. It has a clearly defined goal, well-selected talks, and a well-defined audience. It has been around for some time and has got the logistics down.

I'm curious to what degree it fulfils its stated goal of promoting non-mainstream technologies to the industry, given everybody I talked to was either an academic or a software developer already specialising in niche tech - albeit for business purposes, such as web development.

Diverse

The other thing that impressed me was the amount of women and female presenting speakers and attendees. It was, possibly, the most diverse technical conference I have attended to date. Two thumbs up to the organisers for creating a diversity scheme, and to Toyota Connected for sponsoring the tickets.

(Full disclosure here: I was one of the participants awarded a ticket from the diversity scheme.)

Non-corporate

There were a couple of desks where you could talk to company reps (WhatsApp, Toyota Connected, Erlang Solutions I think) but their presence was discrete, informative, and recruitment-oriented. No pushy salesy talks.

Venue

ILEC Conference Centre: located in West London, only a short walk from the tube, permeated with a stolid corporate vibe; comfortable but dated interiors. Reliable projectors and sound systems. Good quality catering that included healthy, vegetarian and non-alcoholic options. The team made an effort to include some geeky and quirky entertainment: there were racing arcade machines, and a setup for pair console gaming with a pile of beanbags to sit.

After-party

I found the after-party uncomfortable, as the music was too loud to socialise; you couldn't understand other people unless you huddled closely and TALKED RATHER LOUDLY. I'm noise sensitive, so I wasn't able to stay long.

(It's not a complaint directed at Code Mesh organisers, as this seems to be a common way to run parties, group events, and even cafes in the UK.)

Value

Code Mesh currently tops my list of "conferences to go to for fun." The talks I attended either expanded my horizons of what was possible, or provided useful concepts for the mental engineering toolbox. The organisers were welcoming and the attendees friendly and interesting.

It goes on the shortlist of "conferences to budget for next year" :)

Snapshots

Tags: review conference grok