So last week I had the opportunity to attend code4lib Mid-Atlantic and hang out with library developers from that part of the country. One of the most interesting things about the conference was its international set of participants. Because the event was held in conjunction with the VuFind conference, several members of the international VuFind community stayed and attended the code4lib Mid-Atlantic conference as well. This gave the small conference a refreshing global-cosmopolitan atmosphere. I had originally planned to just attend and listen. However, because one of their speakers cancelled at the last minute, I agreed to do a half-hour talk.
My talk entitled "Complementary Flavors: Object Oriented Programming and REST APIs" was about writing object-oriented PHP code libraries for OCLC's Web services. This is a project that I've been working on for the last month or so. Before starting the project, I had no experience with object-oriented (OO) programming. Needless to say I've learned a lot in the last month. Thanks in no small part to my colleague Steve Meyer who has much more experience and is an incredibly patient teacher. Although the code isn't ready to share yet, I'm making steady progress because the OO programming and REST Web services are very complementary to one another.
Paradoxically, the talk I found most stimulating was the one that had nothing to do with the type of work I currently do. "Learning to Be Accessible: Programming for Web Accessibility through a Teaching and Learning Environment" by Katherine Lynch at Drexel University brought back lots of memories of working on library Web sites and trying to test accessibility. It also resonanted for me because real world learning-by-doing is very close to my heart. Not only is how I prefer to learn, but some of my best experiences mentoring have been with interns/students in this type of scenario.
Another highlight of the conference for me was getting to participate in the Linked Data break out group. When I first came to OCLC nearly three years ago, I really didn't feel like I knew much about Linked Data. It was incredibly gratifying to be able to participate in the breakout and provide both explanations and real world examples of how Linked Data actually works based on my experiences at OCLC.
As with almost every code4lib event, it is all about the people and conversations. Villanova did an awesome job of hosting and providing a space where conversations could take place. Demian Katz gave me tons of food for thought on my OO PHP code library. It was neat to talk Linked Data with John Mark Ockerbloom. There were lots of other great conversations as well. Too many to name everyone.... In the end it felt like the time there was too short. I could have stayed and talked code for another whole day. Such is life for a Code4Lib event!
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