‘You can build the most brilliant applications in the world, but they’ll never get out there if you can’t explain them to people’ – Developer Michelle Bakels
By Riley Kaminer
You either write code or you write prose. Since Web 1.0, that has been the prevailing wisdom. But the age of constant digital communications and increasingly social media landscape is putting this in question.
Michelle Bakels, a computer scientist by trade who is program director for developer health at Delray Beach-based React hiring platform G2i Inc., advocates for developers to express themselves in written form.
“Communication is key,” she told Refresh Miami. “Usually, you’re writing to communicate a purpose or idea, or to make an argument. The more clearly you communicate that, the more effective it’s going to be.”
“In tech right now, we don’t have such a strong focus on learning those skills – whether it’s writing or communicating. In general we focus a lot on hard skills: just the coding. You can build the most brilliant applications in the world, but they’ll never get out there if you can’t explain them to people.”
That’s why Bakels is partnering with writer and developer advocate Shawn “swyx” Wang on Dev Writers Retreat – a weeklong event to help developers up their writing game.
Taking place at the Shelborne in South Beach from November 7th through 11th, the first four days of the retreat will arm writers with the skills they need to more clearly communicate their thoughts. The first half of each day will include talks with experts, helping participants with goal setting, choosing topics, and editing and marketing their work.
On the fifth and final day of the retreat, the organizers are hosting an “unconference,” where participants will get together to collectively discuss any ideas that arise on the day – or have come up throughout the week.
“It’s very fluid,” explained Bakels of the unconference. “People come together, write their ideas on a post it note, and vote on topics they want to discuss. You can just talk about that one topic all day, or go around and discuss different topics.”
Organizers expect around 20 participants in days one through four, and upwards of 50 additional participants for the unconference.
The event, which is sponsored in part by dev-focused blogging platform Hashnode, will feature speakers including author Philip Kiely and ML engineer Eugene Yan. Wang, who has been based in Miami for a few months, coming most recently from Singapore, will also present his insights into writing for developers.
“Now more than ever, things are so noisy,” noted Bakels. “There’s so much online, that being able to communicate clearly is a superpower.”
In her estimation, this event will be a success if more people are empowered to use their writing superpowers for good. “I hope for people to come and be open to participating with each other.”
“You don’t have to be an expert writer to join,” she said. “If you’re excited about writing in the developer space, join us.”
WHAT: Dev Writers Retreat
WHY: Helping developers learn to better communicate their ideas
WHEN: November 7th-11th
WHERE: Shelborne South Beach, Collins Ave, Miami Beach [pictured below]
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