ACCU 2022: a tech keynote talk by me

Me, about to deliver a keynote

In the first week of April I went to my first in-person conference since all this [gestures at world] kicked off.

ACCU is out of my area (it’s a programming conference, and not an academic one), and the invitation to deliver a keynote arrived back in June last year. When making a decision about whether I could do this I looked back at their past list of keynote speakers and hoo boy there’s some big names there – it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ve had the inventor of C++ (Stroustrup) but they’ve also have the inventor of Haskell (Peyton Jones), and Python (van Rossum). Whoa. Anyway as you’ve probably guessed (given I’m writing about he conference) I told my imposter syndrome to pipe down and said yes to the speaking invitation. The other keynotes this year were Guy Davidson head of engineering at the computer games studio Creative Assembly, Patricia Aas who’s worked on lots of cool projects including the Opera browser, and Titus Winters, c++ libraries lead at Google.

My talk was about diversity, and the title is a riff on an old Karen Spärck Jones quote; she said “Computing is too important to be left to men”, and my talk was “Diversity is too important to be left to women”. The aim of the talk was to explain why there’s a problem, why diversity has to include more than just gender, what we know about it, and then ask the guys to step up. I’m not sure it was 100% successful, but after the talk a woman came up to me and said “I thought I was done with diversity in tech talks, but that one was quite good“. Which I took to be an accolade. The video will follow and I’ll probably put a link up if it doesn’t look too terrible. This github repo contains my slides – and the source code to build them.

(A real difference as someone without much of a budget: it’s easy to talk at industry conferences. They pay your travel and in this case accommodation. I talked about this on my blog before – when I spoke at Q-Con in 2014. Academic conferences you apply to speak, then you pay to speak, and then you pay for accommodation and travel too; normal tech conferences they invite you to speak and sometimes they put you up too. Obviously the finances are different all around but it’s certainly less hassle as a speaker to present outside of academia. )

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