FITC: first time techie conf

I was super pumped to win tickets to FITC from the incredible people at Ladies Learning Code, and also super pumped I got to hang out with fellow Ladies Learning Code-ers.

It was my first time at a tech conference. I’m used to academic conferences. Social media conferences. Nonprofit conferences. And I dig conferences, man. But this one was a new and strange world.

The lows:

Wifi: Not advertised anywhere but you had to go to the reg desk to ask for a one-day, single-person wifi password each day.  Why make it hard on users?

Food: While there was a steady stream of coffee, tea, water, and in one of the rooms, beer, there was no food. It’s a pricy conference so I was surprised there wasn’t a bite to be had! Especially since alcohol was offered.

But I’ll give FITC the benefit of the doubt on both cases and assume/hope it was something to do with the venue.

The huhs?:

I’m used to a lot of handshaking and business-card-swapping and live-tweeting. But I felt bad whenever I pulled out twitter since everyone else was so glued to the presentation, absorbing all the information they could but not actively sharing it. Then again, I soon realized however it is hard to tweet about code. It just is.

The dudes. I hung out mostly with women, people I had got to know through twitter and Ladies Learning Code. But man. The two panels? All white men. The keynote? All white men. The moderators? White men. And yes. Tech in Toronto is primarily a white man’s world. Or maybe it’s just pricy-tech-conferences are a white man’s world. In any case, thank you, sincerely, Ladies Learning Code for the tickets.

So sheesh, why aren’t there more women in code? Oh I don’t know, maybe it’s the gendering of professions to which we’re exposed at a young age, maybe it’s because women coders get called “hogrammers,” maybe being an outlier makes one uncomfortable… This is a large kettle of fish about which I am not sufficiently versed to provide an answer. But regardless, thanks Ladies Learning Code for creating a positive environment and encouraging women to code.

The highs:

The practical sessions: I’m a new coder. So new I don’t even feel comfortable calling myself a coder. But Matthew Potter‘s DIV talk and Denise JacobsCSS presentation lit a fire in my belly to go out there are code like heck.

Malvin the Bear became our unofficial meeting spot between sessions. You jump on this bear and depending on how forcefully you land you get treated to a colourful projection and a friendly Grrr. People got pretty in to it.

Adobe Keynote: Have you seen Proto? As it was put “I’ve just been replaced by a program.”  You draw stuff, it turns in to code. It got the most oohs and ahhs of the whole conference.

The out-of-this-worlds:

Denise Jacobs: The only woman I saw give a talk (two, actually). She is incredible. Her presentation skills are just amazing. She is relatable. I wish I had been able to talk to her one-on-one. Even when her material delved too deep for me she made me feel like I could get it. That some day, not too far from now, I would get it. Great talk on inspiration too. Rock on.

Aaron Draplin: The man. The package. The design. I drank the Kool-Aid and have been singing his praises ever since his Tall Tales and 20-Point Plan to Wreck Your Life. After his presentations (the slides for which had to be the best branded and organized anywhere, ever) I was ready to take on the freaking WORLD, man. Crushed I didn’t get to rub shoulders with him later on. I’ve been taking his talking points to heart.

Get it on vinyl, you say?

Thanks for raising me on this kind of music mum and poppy!

He made me look at Futura Gothic in a way I never had before. See how hot pink and lime green work together. Appreciate the honesty of a retro-nostalgic design aesthetic. He’s a cross between The Dude and Michael Moore in looks, but a creature unlike any other in energy and talent. He loves you too. I mean, look what he made us, Canada!

It's better up close - click to go to his sweet website

So there we go. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of the conference. I didn’t know what to expect. But I know that as a direct result of FITC I was able to successfully play with my first bit of jQuery (for a bomb-diggity animation I can’t wait to show you in a few weeks), I’m driven to be a more accomplished coder, and design the eff out of this world.

So, all in all, great times FITC!


2 thoughts on “FITC: first time techie conf

  1. So glad you enjoyed your time at FITC Toronto! Totally agree with you on the Wifi, and you’re right it was just the way the hotel dealt with the Internet. They do it that way so they know the number of people logging into the network, so they can prevent it from crashing due to overload.

    In terms of female speakers, we’re always looking for women doing incredible work to put on stage. If you or any of your readers know of any females doing great things with tech that should be shared, send them our way ( It has been an ongoing struggle to find women who not only have something great to say, but who want to say it publicly.

    We have our annual women’s initiative ( which provides 50 tickets to creative women who want to attend our conference. Also this year, as you know, I partnered with Heather Payne to provide 60 tickets to Ladies Learning Code in an effort to inspire and get more women out to our events. This is an issue that gets to me on a professional and a personal level. You’ll also be happy to know that I plan on speaking more with the fabulous Denise Jacobs to get the word out more.

    Thanks again for coming and for your feedback 🙂

    • Hi Lindsay,

      Thanks so much for your comment! The steps FITC and Ladies Learning Code take to encourage women’s participation in technology is excellent. And I would say without your support I certainly would not have been able to attend the conference, nor would I be giddy to get home and code pretty much every day after work. Super to hear you’re speaking with Denise Jacobs, because she was an absolute inspiration for me.

      The relative shortage of women in fields like technology (but also… a heck of a lot of other things – I’m also getting involved in women’s presence in politics) is such a complex issue and one I hope to understand better. Your initiatives in encouraging women’s participation in technology is a great and direct way to address it.

      Who knows, give me a year, maybe I’ll be presenting! Um. Maybe make that two years. FITC’s speakers were pretty solid gold.



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