SoCraTes UK 2016: the passion awakens

They may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

It often starts like a subtle sickness, one day you wake up less motivated than usual, you know your code could be better but there’s a lot to be done, and you start with a

// TODO: refactor this later!

Time passes by, and you get used to a daily routine made of commit, push, release, fix, clean, build, install. A developer, this is what they call you, and you start believing that this is who you are… or not?

Few days ago I watched a documentary titled “The Watchmaker’s Apprentice”, and I found the story of George Daniels very fascinating. The attention, passion and dedication that he put into his watches, the energy despite his age, the resolution to go against a world that runs fast (often headed nowhere), just walking towards perfection and enjoying the results of his work, are all invaluable examples for any person who aims to become the best she can, no matter what others think or say about her.

I’ve been introduced to the concept of Software Craftsmanship by a colleague of mine, and of course by the universally recognised must read book “Clean Code” (R.C. Martin). London completed the induction giving me the chance to participate to few meet ups organised by the London Software Craftsmanship Community.

The natural evolution of this - for now - short journey was my participation to SoCraTes UK, the International Software Craftsmanship Gathering that this year was held in Dorking, Surrey, in Wotton House:

Amazing picture from Twitter

I didn’t really know what to expect, I joined this group of around 80 people on Wednesday the 2nd, we gathered in the main conference room in a circle, and a positive energy immediately filled the space: roughly 30% of participants was new to this event, and Rachel, facilitator for the event, introduced everyone to the concept of open space, marketplace, lightning talk, and so on and so forth. This is what it looked like:

From Twitter

Open Space Principles

  • Whoever comes is the right people

If people decide to participate, you can assume they are interested in what you are going to say. If they are not, they will probably leave at some point.

  • Whenever it starts is the right time

There’s no pressure on when to start, and the presentation is not governed by a clock

  • Wherever it happens is the right place

Every space is valid… conference rooms, bar, tea room, garden, hallway, corridors

  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have

There’s no predefined outcome: if the discussion ends up on a completely different topic, it’s fine, as long as participants are happy and engaged.

  • When it’s over, it’s over

Ideally we organised in 1h (or 2h) slots, but the session could end whenever participants felt that it was appropriate.


Friday and Saturday morning, participants had the chance of briefly introducing a topic to everyone, and block a time slot on the board, the marketplace.

From Twitter

The result for the two days was this:

Details here

As a young padawan on the path that leads to the Force, I attended as many session as I could, and I gradually felt more and more part of this sort of Jedi council where there’s no right or wrong, and passion and will to learn new things are both fuel of this incredible engine.

I attended sessions on

One of the best things of SoCraTes is the incredible diversity of skills and nationalities, but mostly the passion that everyone demonstrates towards software development, which for a fortunate coincidence happens to be their job.


Do you want to become just a developer, or the finest watchmaker? Are you ready to turn down the dark side, and embrace Software Craftsmanship? If the answer is yes, then you’re halfway there. Meanwhile, follow @SoCraTes_UK and get ready for 2017 edition! I’ll see you there ;-)

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