DOAG 2018 – my personal review

doag_impressions

The DOAG exhibition and conference in Nuremberg, 2018 probably the biggest Oracle conference in Europe with over 2000 visitors, is over. And I had the pleasure and privilege to be part of it.

As a first-time attendee and first-time speaker, the conference was both, very exciting and immensely frightening to me. The great location alone with its 4 floors arranged around a huge hall made me question whether I belonged there right when entering. Nonetheless, I proudly got my speaker shirt and the following three days turned out to be one of the greatest highlights 2018 for me.

19 Sessions in parallel every hour made me really spoilt for choice and in the end, I even skipped several slots because of chats with the amazing people I met – and pure exhaustion.

Some of my personal highlights in no particular order:

Organization, Food, Location, Transport – all of these things were exceptionally well done and made the conference a great and comfortable experience! Excellent job, DOAG e.V.!

My own talk: Introduction to utPLSQL

The talk before mine finished a bit early so I had even more time to prepare, put on my sith robe, setup my notebook and – OH WHAT THE F**K THIS HDMI CABLE DOESN’T FIT INTO MY NOTEBOOK!! WHAT DO I DO NOW? I NEED THIS CAREFULLY PREPARED DEVICE WITH LIVE DEMO AND…
Luckily it was just a display port adapter still attached to the HDMI cable (sorry to the volunteers who had to deal with me while panicking). Maybe you get my nervousness.

I was very glad some people I already knew from the day before showed up pretty soon and I had someone to talk to – until the doors got closed about 3 minutes before the scheduled start.

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The topic struck a nerve, the room was completely full (as was the other talk about utPLSQL by Philipp Salvisberg the next day) and people had to be sent away.

I was very glad I had memorized my talk, so I didn’t need much brain capacity to search for words. And after some minutes it felt much more natural to me (my hands were still shaking pretty much when scrolling through the live demos, but people I spoke with afterward said it was not visible).

I got lots of really great feedback and was even asked if I wanted to do the talk at another conference. Which I might do, because after the first five minutes I really started to enjoy presenting what I had prepared for months.

Tips for first-time speakers

For me, a blog article doesn’t feel right if there is nothing actionable I have to share so I will try to point out some things which were immensely helpful for me – maybe they’ll help or encourage other people who want to do a public presentation.
If you aren’t interested in that, just scroll down to the last and by far the most important part of this blog-post.

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Are you sure about what you know?

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

David Dunning [NYT]

Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger-Effect? If not, you might want to change that – it’s a great scientific foundation to make fun of people who – for example – use buzzwords, obviously without knowing their meaning. It also gives you some academic ammunition when complaining about the technical incompetence of management, project lead or sales. By using the term and throwing it towards whoever you think is your opponent you can show your superiority. And isn’t it fun to insult people when they don’t even notice being insulted? Clearly a proof of your intellectual dominance, because you don’t fit into the group of incompetent people, do you? You are clever, reflected and open-minded enough not to fall to the traps of human psyche, aren’t you?

For those who don’t want to read through the linked Wikipedia-article, have this (very simplified) description:

The Dunning-Kruger-Effect describes a psychological phenomenon that people who are low-skilled in a certain topic are the most likely to think they know a lot and are skilled at least “above average”. This is due to the fact that their lack of knowledge on a subject also means they can’t recognize how much they don’t understand.
A low-skilled person can overcome these effects by education and increase of knowledge on the topic.
The other side of the effect is, that highly skilled people are the most likely to underestimate their own competence and tend to be less confident about their expertise.

dunning_kruger_effect

There’s a lot of information and commentary about the Dunning-Kruger-effect on the internet, often in combination with fingerpointing towards extreme examples of the phenomenon (you can read “Trump” between the lines here). Most of us have seen people whose lack of experience and knowledge on the subject they presented made us feel uneasy while they themselves seemed pretty confident and happy.
And I agree that it’s fun to watch the effect on others in its full glory, but if you calm down and think about it, it can suddenly become very serious (I guess that’s the reason why the work of Prof. Dunning and Kruger was awarded by the Ig Nobel Prize for “first making people laugh, then think”).

The problem is – this is not a phenomenon reserved for others. And it’s not something only present in ridiculous and extreme examples.

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