CAST: a conference about conferring

The third annual Conference for the Association of Software Testing took place this week in Toronto. I’ve spent the last couple of days in conversations with people from multiple countries talking about testing from many perspectives.

What’s cool about the conference is how much conferring takes place. Spontaneous conversations among people who’ve never met before bubble up when one person makes a comment and like-minded people find each other. And sometimes when people who aren’t like-minded find each other.

CAST very much feels like a conference that doesn’t end. People meet up for coffee in the morning, eat lunch together, dinner together. This year’s CAST was great.

Jerry Weinberg was one of our keynote speakers and it was clear how much people just wanted to talk with Jerry (myself included). At one point, I saw about a dozen people sitting on the floor surrounding Jerry with an unplanned session.

A couple of times, rooms were arranged for conversations that had gone past schedule to continue – a strong fundamental concept of CAST – is the concept that the schedule won’t be a dictator. If the energy and interest for a topic continue, the conversation gets moved to another room and people continue. CAST is not about speakers speaking at an audience but is about people talking to each other.

I’ve had the good fortune to work on the program committee the past two years. I’ve met many people through the conferences and I’ve learned a lot about planning conferences. The reality is conferences take so much more work than it may appear to attendees (I hope). I’ve worked with three terrific co-chairs: Christelle Scharff, Morven Gentlemen and Doug Hoffman.

For the past two years, I’ve also served on the Board of Directors for AST. My term has completed. It has been an interesting and wonderful experience. AST has grown these past couple of years and membership continues to grow.

And now another solid CAST comes to closure.

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