One of the distinct joys and privileges I've had as Community Manager at Basho is being able to attend, view, and facilitate technical talks. Technical talks are a form of intellectual currency; talented speakers are heralded and sought after (for good reason), and fanboys like me memorize URLs of favorites so they can get credit for introducing a classic to a newcomer. ("Bro, you haven't seen Hickey's Simple Made Easy?")
When you see a talk you love, it sticks with you. Why was it so memorable? A few potential reasons:
- The ideas and assertions were actually novel and new, and presented with passion (even if you disagreed with them)
- Someone was able to take esoteric concepts and turn them into something comprehensible and concrete
- The speaker was a pure entertainer, and had a perfect mix of technical depth, wit, wisdom, and passion
- The slide quality and talk preparation were second-to-none
- The speaker didn't use slides, and it blew your mind
- The production quality (filming, editing, etc.) was exceptional and should be emulated
As usual, pull requests are encouraged. I'll be updating this regularly but there are scores of killer talks out there, and I've only seen a trivial portion of them. If you're contributing a talk, include a few words on why you're adding it and some sort of self-attribution so that people can know from whom it came.
- Simple Made Easy (Rich Hickey, Strange Loop 2011) Hickey talk 1 of N that's worth every minute (even if you don't care at all about programming).
- An End to Negativity (Chris Williams, JSConf.eu 2011) Pure passion.
- Surge 2011 Key Note (Ben Fried, Surge 2011) Lessons learned and practical advice related to the importance of being a technical generalist. Also, no slides; few can pull this off well.
- Inventing on Principle (Bret Victor, CUSEC 2012) Driven thinker and technologist talking about important things.
- WAT (Gary Bernardt, CodeMash 2012) Hilarious and entertaining. Arguably a perfect lightning talk.
- Instant-ish Real Service Architecture (Ted Nyman, BashoChats) Smart, witty, and immediately applicable. Also gives you a simple call to action (which many speakers forget to do).
- How Eventual is Eventual Consistency? (Peter Bailis, Basho Chats) Great example of how to take an abstract concept and turn it into a practical talk with concrete findings and advice. Peter's also a high-caliber speaker.
- Metrics, Metrics Everywhere (Coda Hale, Pivotal Labs Tech Talks) Make better decisions by using numbers. (contributed by @michaelfairley)
- Persistent Data Structures and Managed References (Rich Hickey) Describes Clojure's approach to state, identity and concurrency. (contributed by @michaelklishin)
- The DCI Architecture: Lean and Agile at the Code Level (Jim Coplien) Thought provoking insight into how modern "class oriented" programming is different from intents behind origins of OOP. (contributed by Serge Balyuk)
- Machine Learning: A Love Story (Hilary Mason) A history of Machine Learning, covering major milestones over the last two decades. (contributed by @vedang)
- Programming and Scaling (Alan Kay) An excellent overview of the ambitious work that Alan Kay is involved with at VPRI, with a number of fascinating tangents. (contributed by @puredanger)
- Resilient Response In Complex Systems (John Allspaw, QCON London 2012) The much-heralded Ops thinker and doer John Allspaw with valuable perspective on how to approach and think about web operations at scale.