Across the street from Moscone West, is an exciting, growing new community called AltConf that offers a really great counterpoint to developers attending WWDC.

Sure they offer technical sessions, but it’s the broader sessions around challenges faced by the community and by app developers that really got my notice this year. There are interesting conversations being had and it was great to experience some of it.

There were lots of sessions on practical approaches to creating great product, marketing your efforts to the media and tackling diversity issues in our field that left me inspired, hopeful and somewhat frustrated – the sessions, mostly at 30 minutes, were way too short, offering little time for speakers to go deep, or for the Q&A to explore interesting thoughts.

 

As a team, immedia are committed to mentoring and growing a generation of talent that draws from all of the diversity that South Africa and the world has to offer and it was incredibly powerful to listen to speakers and other developers during the Q&A that made our challenge in walking that path, a shared journey.

With two of our senior leadership team being women, and many more in all parts of our team, with many of our talent coming from backgrounds that are marginalised due to class, race, personality or perceived skill, we know first hand how courageous those individuals need to be to stick through the bullshit and the bullying that comes with stepping up.

It was good to explore these challenges as a community and realise that things will only begin to change when we acknowledge that these are discussions that must find a space to breathe, not simply be pandered too. AltConf provides that space and I hope it grows in momentum, for things change when we all change.

AltConf has certainly attracted a diverse range of backers too… Not only did some of the more formal media participate, people like Peter Cohen from iMore, Dave Hamilton from MacObserver and others, but AltConf also managed to get sponsor support from companies like Microsoft and Google.

It was great to see Microsoft with a table at AltConf with their pitch “Any developer, any app, any OS. Really.” This is a new Microsoft indeed.

Greg Raiz did a really great talk on “going for that fifth star” or how to make your product absolutely world class, and Charles Perry gave some great insights into the entrepreneurial skills needed to be a successful app developer.

It is easy to get sucked into the Apple gravity-well at an event like WWDC; it simply can’t be helped. But next year, do yourself a favour, if you don’t score dub dub tickets – go to AltConf anyway.