In 2010, I attended my first conference. My friend Matt—who I met because we read and commented on each other’s blogs—was leading the blog team for USENIX’s LISA conference. He wanted to add a few people and asked me to join. I was thrilled.
That fall, I went to San Jose not knowing what to expect. I was a system administrator (in a large installation, no less), but there were so many things I didn’t know. Would I fit in? Yes, as it turns out.
The community was large, but incredibly welcoming. I got to have dinner with some of the Big Names in system administration, all of whom were kind and gracious. For six days, I woke up early (because time zones), attended sessions all day, went to BoFs and social events in the evening, then stayed up late to write a couple of posts for the conference blog. By the end of the week I was exhausted, but having the time of my life.
For several years, I was a regular attendee and blogger. In 2016, I served as co co-chair of the Invited Talks track. In 2018, I was on the program committee. Since then, I haven’t been involved with LISA (except for a lightning talk this year) because my career has taken a different direction.
But even though my job is no longer system administration, I’m still friends with so many people I met through LISA. And it’s not a stretch to say that being on the LISA blog team set me up for success as a writer. Of course, it gave me a lot of practice writing on tight deadline. But it also helped connect me to people who have since given me a boost in my career. I doubt that I’d be working on a book right now if it weren’t for the LISA conference.
So you can imagine how sad I felt when I saw the news that the LISA conference has come to an end. All good things must end, of course. LISA had a terrific run. But the field—and the world around it—has changed. So we must bid goodbye to the conference that started me on conferences. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people. And I’ll always have that.