Have you ever been to a conference on an island? Have you ever commuted to work via a car, a plane, a boat.. and a horse-drawn carriage? I just did, for the first time! Last week I helped co-organize the third Deserted Island DevOpsDeserted Island DevOps conference. If you haven’t heard about it, let me introduce this concept. When Covid-19 Pandemic started and lockdowns happened across the globe, conferences started getting canceled, and technology professionals still wanted to get together. At this same time, the Nintendo Switch video game Animal Crossing: New HorizonsAnimal Crossing: New Horizons had recently been released, and folks were spending countless hours playing it. So the question became, “What if we held a tech conference inside Animal Crossing?”
A Different Type of DevOps Event
As time passed and life around the pandemic changed, this year’s conference became an opportunity to experiment with a hybrid model. We were able to have speakers and alumni attend in person while we continued to hold the conference virtually. The plan for this conference was to bring the community together and focus on an in-person experience while also optimizing the online attendee experience. Feel free to read more about it via Austin Parker’s blog post.blog post.
We also decided to host this year’s conference…on a deserted island. This meant that this year, we were streaming live from Mackinac Island, MIMackinac Island, MI. Getting to the island and conference meant that our attendees had to take different modes of transportation to get there. I flew from San Francisco to Minneapolis, MN, then flew to Chippewa County, MI, and drove to St Ignace, MI where we took a ferry to the island, and got to the hotel via horse-drawn carriagevia horse-drawn carriage. Some folks did all that and a train too!
Day 1 Recap
We kicked off Day 1 with Heidi WaterhouseHeidi Waterhouse talking about the similarities between building islands and building platforms. It was a great reminder to connect with our neighbors and other teams, to learn what is needed before we get to building, to think about maintenance work and that we all have different islands, problems, constraints, and solutions. Sometimes we just need the reminder to do maintenance work reminder to do maintenance work and to ensure that folks are being promoted for it.
We heard from many amazing speakers that day. Make sure look at YouTubeYouTube for videos of our sessions.
Abdallah AbedrabaAbdallah Abedraba joined us in person and talked about GitOps for your API leveraging OpenAPI. The earlier we start working with the API definition in a GitOps fashion, the faster we can automate the entire lifecycle.
Jason Blanchard joined us virtually to talk about how organizations should prioritize the work that they are doing and left us with great tips around leveraging North Star documents.
Amy NegretteAmy Negrette spoke on ways we can continue to improve on distributed communications, as we are all on our own islands. As we moved to online and distributed communication, we didn’t get a manual on different ways to communicate or ways to adapt your communication based on your circumstances or group dynamics. Amy shared, “We assume we all understand the same thing at the same time.”“We assume we all understand the same thing at the same time.” We forget that not everyone communicates the same way or understands the same things at the same time.
We ended Day 1 with a fancy reception where our speakers got to hang out and dress up! A bit ironic that the conference where we all dressed up was held online, and only speakers and alumni got to see all the fancy outfits.
Day 2 Recap
We started Day 2 by hearing from Kat CosgroveKat Cosgrove on how trust in communities is gained through hard work, but once lost, is not easily gained back. They also went on to remind us when we say “PRs Open”“PRs Open” in Open Source Communities, it’s an invite to contribute, and at the same time, we don’t think you’ll do it. Prove us wrong and submit that PR.
Rashmi NagpalRashmi Nagpal joined us live and talked about MLOps. I finally understand the topic a bit more! Before figuring out which model one should train, you should go back and figure out the business use case, the time and budget constraints, the interference time, and the explainability.
The DevRel BFF Duo, Daniel KimDaniel Kim, and Fatima Sarah KhalidFatima Sarah Khalid got to share about learning DevOps, learning together, and learning in public. This was their first joint talk, but I sure hope they have a few more. Learning about DevOps in public has also been my approach, and I’m quite happy with how things have turned out
Brooke SargentBrooke Sargent gave her first talk (woot, congrats!!) and taught folks about learning through observability. Why should one rely on a small set of individuals when instead, we can create a culture of learning by leveraging much more context into our systems with observability?
Remember, you can check out all of the talks on our YouTubeYouTube channel, and let me know which ones you liked by leaving a comment on the videos!
Many things made this event very special and different, I loved that we were able to show behind-the-scenes footage of what it took to make this untraditional conference come together. Lots of video gaming and tech learning got done this year as a community Some speakers, myself included, tried to match our video game character outfits to the outfits we wore in person.
And of course, lots of dependencies and a great AV team.
As we did in past years, we held a fundraiser, raising $2,236 for the Trevor ProjectTrevor Project. This is an amazing cause dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth’s mental health.
Lastly, one of my favorite things about coming together in person this year for Deserted Island was that many of our speakers and alumni had met virtually the last three years, and this was the first time they would have an opportunity to meet in person. It was very awesome to see them transition from online connections to in-person hangouts, cheer each other on and leave the island with a new friend or two! I can’t wait to continue seeing where this community goes
Thank you to our organizers, Austin ParkerAustin Parker and Karli WilliamsonKarli Williamson, for making this event possible, and of course, a huge thank you to all of our speakers, alumni, and attendees.
Feel free to join the Deserted Island DiscordDeserted Island Discord to connect with others, and stay tuned for upcoming news.
September 29, 2022
6 min read
About the author
Ana Margarita MedinaRead moreRead more
Explore more articles
The DevOps Conference Everyone Needs Right NowKaty Farmer | Apr 22, 2020
This is not your typical virtual conference. Deserted Island DevOps is a virtual DevOps conference that takes place wholly in Animal Crossing with nearly 500 attendees and a full list of speakers. Register now to join the fun!Learn moreLearn more
How We Write Code at Lightstep: Lab NotebooksJulian Griggs | Aug 25, 2019
Many engineering teams create some form of a Design Document in the early stages of a new project. At Lightstep we do things a bit differently. Rather than Design Documents, we’ve created “Lab Notebooks.”Learn moreLearn more
Lightstep Wins a Best Place to Work in the Bay AreaAusten Yueh | May 1, 2019
We’re excited to announce that we are a winner of the 2019 Bay Area Best Places to Work, an awards program presented the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal.Learn moreLearn more
Lightstep sounds like a lovely idea
Monitoring and observability for the world’s most reliable systems