SoCraTes is an international non-profit and community-run (un)conference about all things related to Software Craftsmanship. And at the same time it is so much more.
We are an international conference, and the conference language is English. We cordially ask you to keep all conversations in English, even for colloquial discussions.
Open Space is at the core of what SoCraTes is. Each day starts with everybody gathering in the same room and creating the schedule for the day. Anybody who wants to grabs a sheet of paper and writes the topic they want to add to the schedule. Then the topics are briefly presented and assigned to a timeslot and a room. That's it for a start, next come the sessions.
There are many different kinds of sessions. Some sessions are all about discussing the topic in a somewhat chaotic manner where even the participants don't know where the session is going to take them. People share opinions, ask questions and compare experiences. Not everybody needs to share - interest in the topic alone is sufficient. This is a great way to learn beyond the book material, to learn how something works in the real world from concrete experiences people had in their specific contexts.
Some sessions express the desire of the person proposing the session to learn about a certain topic. In many cases, there will be some participants who know the topic well and who are willing to share their knowledge.
A smaller number of sessions are run as presentations. This can be about TDD, Event Sourcing, Functional Programming, a particular library, or anything else a talk can be about. There is always time left for discussion and answering questions.
Quite a few sessions focus on hands-on activities. You want to try a new technology? Or just hack together in a group? You'll certainly find people to join you. Some of the hands-on sessions are run like workshops, some are done in mob-programming format, some are code katas, others are just hacking on an interesting open-source library. It can really be anything the group want it to be.
And this is the beauty of Open Space - it really will be anything the group wants it to be. You are feeling a bit frustrated with something at work? How about a therapy session outside in the sun with a few like-minded people over a glass of wine or a cup of tea? You have a particular question about something you're stuck with? Just ask for help. You... get the picture by now. :)
And this leads us to...
SoCraTes is all about people. There are going to be 200 motivated, intelligent and friendly participants, just like yourself, to make the best of the time together.
You'll have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Some of the best conversations happen over a meal. You'll spend the evenings together in a bar, play games together, go for a morning run or a walk together. There's definitely going to be a game or 100 of werewolf, fun rounds of beach volleyball and much more.
We all stay at the same location for the sole reason of having enough time with each other - enough time to get to know each other, learn from each other, create business contacts, recuperate from the real world and have a generally great time. If you've never been to a conference like this, it will be an eye-opener. No more divisions between speakers and audience, going home alone or being tied to a fixed schedule. Doesn't matter if you're a world-class expert, world-weary salary-man, a student, or have just started to program a couple of months ago. Everybody has something to give, to share and to learn from others. And all of that happens in a friendly, supportive and safe environment that embraces and celebrates diversity.
This can sound a bit unusual, but it works beautifully in practice. Why? Because so many amazing people are at the same place, focusing on each other. By the end of the conference you'll know by name a few dozens of new faces. You'll have made friends, business connections if you want them, maybe you'll find a mentor, or a kindred spirit for that interesting project you want to work on. Anything can happen. And is bound to happen.
And that is what SoCraTes is really all about.
So now that you know what SoCraTes actually is, here are a few more details about the schedule.