This was my first DroidKaigi and as well my first big conference as speaker. It was not my first time in Japan, it’s a country that I don’t get tired of visiting as it has so many things to offer, including now one of the friendliest conferences out there.
Moments before my talk
Tickets and CfP
The call for proposals happened last year around October, giving us applicants a lot of time to prepare. When I got selected to speak I was really happy and surprised, and as well relieved that I’d have three months to prepare the talk. They selected a new talk idea which I didn’t have any content yet so I had to work it from scratch.
The tickets were very affordable, even if you bought it last minute it was about 100 Euros per ticket. I wish more conferences would keep their prices contained.
Taking a look at all the submitted proposals (https://droidkaigi.jp/2018/en/proposals) there were 78 English talks and 267 Japanese talks proposed, from which 19 English and 69 Japanese talks were accepted. Roughly the same percentage of talks accepted / proposed on both languages.
I’d say there was no advantage on being picked if you submitted in one language or another, which I find awesome!
The pre-party, in which speakers, sponsors and organizers were invited, was also open for everyone. As speaker, you could invite more guests with you. And even if you didn’t know anyone who could +1 you, you could still attend by paying an entrance fee.
Also, very good idea to allow speakers to get registered at the pre-party. I wish that attendees who joined the pre-party could also get registered there, but I understand the logistic limitations.
Overall, I like the idea of an open-for-everyone pre-party.
Location, food and attendees
DroidKaigi happened in a conference center in Shinjuku, very centric although a bit hard to find if you can’t read Kanji. The rooms were large enough (at least for the English track), there was plenty of bathrooms, the WiFi worked OK when I had to use it (it was bad on my phone but good on my laptop).
The whole space was well organized and the exhibition area was full of interesting companies, but unfortunately most, if not all of them, were focused on the Japanese market and for Japanese developers.
Lunch came prepacked, which made it really easy to distribute. The food itself was quite OK, although it was impossible to know what was inside the box before you took it. And it was even more difficult for vegetarians and vegans to know if there was any meat in there.
I know the amount of non-Japanese speaking attendees was quite low, I guess we were probably less than 50, based on the amount of people I saw at the conference and considering they have around 1000 attendees it is really a small percentage of foreigners to justify some changes.
With 19 English talks there was enough for me to choose what to watch. I am not able to attend to more than ten talks on two conference days without feeling tired.
My top picks in no particular order:
How To Kontribute
The setup and the tips to get started contributing with Kotlin were really helpful to guide newcomers! I couldn’t follow much on the advanced features, although it was interesting to know how the Kotlin plugin works it was definitely too advanced for me.
Graywater, a framework for fast and lean RecyclerView
Interesting proposal from the Tumblr team, although I won’t be able to use it due to our design constraints it is a clever solution to their problem and I feel that I can apply the same principles in the future.
The talk from Mitchell was full of wisdom. It was a bit too fast for me to follow and I think I had the same problem with my talk, 45 or 50 minutes for the same amount content would have been better.
Tensorflow for Mobile Heroes
I was a good surprise to learn that you can also use the Google Cloud services to train your models (without going into the setup hell of running TF on your computer).
Anastasia delivered a thoughtful talk about how us developers are not alone when it comes to impostors syndrome, insecurities, dealing with trolls and stop being ashamed of who we are.
ARrrrg! the Google AR demo deciphered
Also special mention to Mario for the most original talk around. It’s always interesting to see how OpenGL and 3D rendering work on our devices.
The conference party, held after the first day, was probably the best conference party I attended. Excellent food (fresh sushi! cupcakes!), videogames and the funny idea that speakers had to wear a balloon and be recognized by the attendees.
Me and Mario with our speaker balloons
Experience as speaker
The whole process was very smooth, I got my confirmation in time and the communication with the organizers was always quick and helpful. The platform they used to manage the CfP is called Sessionize and was really easy to use. I found a bit strange that all the proposals were public.
As speaker I did not get my trip or lodging paid, as compared to other international conferences, which makes my chances of applying again lower if I am not planning a vacation together with my family. If the conference is looking to become more international, having a travel stipend, even if small, would definitely help.
About my talk
After giving my talk a week before at our local meetup in Berlin (Berlindroid) I worked it over with the feedback I received. I think all the feedback helped me deliver a better talk although I am not satisfied with it.
The room was full, which means my topic attracted many people and I hope they were not disappointed with the content. I am looking forward to get the attendee feedback from the conference.
Speaking at DroidKaigi was a fun and positive experience. I met new and old friends from around the world. I wish the conference was a bit more international with more English talks, but I understand that there’s more demand for Japanese content in this land. If a new travel opportunity comes I will definitely apply again to speak, and if I am not selected, I’d join as attendee.