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Recommendations from Bjorn Freeman-Benson

Bjorn Freeman-Benson, Center for Urban Simulation & Policy Analysis, bnfb @ cs.washington.edu

Bjorn is a software developer and project manager. He has been working in object-oriented languages since Smalltalk-80, and is known for his expertise and experience in practical and effective software development. He currently manages the UrbanSim project, a moderate-sized Open Source Java project for simulating land use and transportation in large municipalities. In addition to UrbanSim, he is a Fellow at Bedarra Research Labs, and he consults on software engineering best practices. He earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington. He enjoys teaching and writing, and has published in OOPSLA and elsewhere. He was the Conference Chair for OOPSLA'98 and, if you ask him, will tell a pretty funny story about his public speaking.

I've been attending OOPSLA since 1987 and I'm particularly excited about OOPSLA 2003 because I think the technical program is better than it has been in years. I go to OOPSLA for just one reason: I hear about interesting things from interesting people so that I can return to work reinvigorated and re-excited. Thus my OOPSLA attendance selections are about "where can I find interesting ideas?"

I always attend the invited talks and keynotes because over the years the OOPSLA chairs have selected some pretty thought provoking speakers. This year is no exception: Free Culture: The limited but essential role of property in building an environment for creativity on Tuesday, then Tim O'Reilly with OOPSLA Keynote - The Internet Paradigm Shift on Wednesday, and Dave Ungar talking about Seven Paradoxes of Object-Oriented Programming Languages on Thursday.

My second favorite OOPSLA activity is meeting people in the hallways, at coffee breaks, and at the conference receptions. I catch up with the technical advances made by old friends, but I also make a point of meeting at least two new people a day. Often those are people who have presented an interesting paper (this year, I will make a point to talk to the presenters in the Smalltalkiana session and Technical Papers and Onward!: Error Repair). One of the nice things about OOPSLA is how approachable and knowledgable the presenters are - only once in over a decade of OOPSLAs was the speaker a marketing-droid rather than the technical implementor or architect.

I like to attend a few panel sessions although panel quality varies substantially. I don't like it when the panelists are clearly just giving mini-lectures and are not discussing the issue. I also don't enjoy "gimmick" panels where the format is just too cute. This year, however, a few of the panels have caught my eye. Meeting the Challenge of Software Engineering Education for Working Professionals in the 21st Century is an important topic, and Ray Bareiss, Barry Boehm, Gabby Silverman, and Dave Thomas will have interesting things to say. Innovate! is another topic near and dear to my heart, and anything with Dick Gabriel and David West has a good chance of being good. Finally, Agile Management—An Oxymoron? has Ward Cunningham, Mary Poppendieck, and Rebecca Wirfs-Brock representing an cross section of opinions on the topic.

As the UrbanSim project (my employer) is doing some interesting work using Eclipse in a non-programming environment, I will probably attend the Eclipse Technology eXchange, which will unfortunately prevent me from attending the interesting looking Technical Leadership In Practice. But irrespective of that, I'm defintely looking forward to OOPSLA 2003 - like I said, I think it's going to be better than it has been in years.

Bjorn Freeman-Benson recommends:
Onward! Free Culture: The limited but essential role of property in building an environment for creativity
Keynotes & Invited Speakers: OOPSLA Keynote - The Internet Paradigm Shift
Keynotes & Invited Speakers: Seven Paradoxes of Object-Oriented Programming Languages
Technical Paper: Smalltalkiana
Technical Paper Technical Papers and Onward!: Error Repair
Panel: Meeting the Challenge of Software Engineering Education for Working Professionals in the 21st Century
Panel: Innovate!
Panel: Agile Management—An Oxymoron?
Workshop: Eclipse Technology eXchange
Tutorial: Technical Leadership In Practice