Today started with the keynote address by Dr Barbara Fredrickson. Her topic was Positive Emotions. She cited research that showed how positive emotions expand our cognition, things like thinking more global, being more positive, improving peripheral vision, being more creative. This positive emotion can be triggered by giving a gift, pictures of cute puppies or upbeat music.
My next session was lead by Chet Hendrickson and Ron Jeffries. It was a retrospective of what we've done right and wrong over the past 10 years since the Manifesto was signed. On the positive side, agile has found its sweet spot, co-located, cross-functional team with solid technical practices doing frequent iterations. On the other side, there's dogmatism. This is common in people new to agile; insisting that the rules get followed. This behavior is a result of ignorance, fear, or inexperience. There's also the competition factor; do we use xP, Scrum, Crystal? There conclusion was there is plenty of bad software practices out there and it doesn't matter what you use as long as you follow the principles.
I also sat in on a session by Jim Highsmith. He was talking about the subject of leadership and doing agile versus being agile. One interesting idea he threw out was on technical debt. As it builds, the cost of change increases exponentially.
My last session today was with Andy Hunt, which would make it the 3rd author of the Agile Manifesto that I heard today. He had an interesting discussion on Refactoring our Wetware, based on his book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware . He talked about how we learn, how our brain works, and how we can improve. He talked about the evils of multi-tasking. He also talked about how to be more effective. One of his ideas was a journaling technique. The idea is that you do this the first thing in the morning, before checking your email or updating twitter. You write (no computers or iPads) three pages and don't censor what you're writing, and finally, don't skip any days.
So now I have to pick out tomorrow's sessions. The quality of the talks has been great. The hardest part is selecting among the numerous choices in each time slot.