Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CAST 2011

Some notes from CAST2011...

3 things that made me smile...

1. Jon Bach’s bug reports – Jonathan Bach, the conference chair, kicked off both days with a brief address to the attendees that included a bug report – things that had not gone quite right with the conference, and what was being done about them. How apropos for a testing conference! I imagine chairing such an event is an arduous undertaking. It’s nice to see someone pull it off with such grace and humor.

2. Progressive shout-out – James Bach, in his day 2 keynote, mentioned Progressive as an example of a large corporate shop that embraces context driven testing as a professional practice. It was a simple, but profound, moment of gratification for myself and my colleagues who have worked to make this so. It was also a great set-up for my talk, but I’ve had to swear to at least three different people that it was purely coincidental. James and I did not arrange the timing (I swear, really).

3. My talk: “Developing a Professional Testing Culture” – I was honored that James Bach selected me to present a talk on this subject. After the past few years of struggles, lessons, and triumphs in this arena, for me, this was a story that practically wrote itself. And, for once, I think I did not rush through my talk. The audience was great. I think there were close to a dozen green cards up before the facilitator uttered the words “open season”. I was left with the impression that many others are experiencing similar struggles in the cultural arena. A couple of themes that developed in open season were the importance of building on small victories and organizational support. Many stayed in the room past the appointed end time, and we talked and exchanged business cards well into the lunch hour. I owe a special “thanks” to Rob Sabourin for his feedback immediately afterward that will help me be a better presenter in the future (not quite “just in time” ).

5 things that will have me thinking...

1. Bolton on repeatability (during his day 1 keynote) – To paraphrase Michael Bolton out of context, “Seeking repeatability hurts many testing efforts… Testing for adaptability increases coverage…” We tend to harp on repeatability, I still think it is frequently an important problem, but taking a step back in probably healthy.

2. Positive deviance – also from Bolton’s keynote. In many ways, this may be naming the thing that we have seen succeed in our testing culture. Perhaps by naming it, we can begin to better harness it...

3. “Tacit and Explicit Knowledge”, by Harry Collins – a book mentioned prominently in James Bach’s keynote.

4. Intersubjectivity revolution – also from Bach’s keynote.

5. Experimental design, pairwise testing, etc – In his session, Justin Hunter lamented the seeming lack of interest in experimental design among our community. I think I also sense this, and it has me scratching my head too.

That’s it. All in all, another worthwhile event by AST. See you all next year in the bay area.



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