Welcome! Thank you very much for joining us this morning!
Welcome to the first The Conf ever!
I’m Fabio Akita and I will be your host,. Most people here probably still associate me
with Rubyconf. That's expected, as I worked hard on that for that past 9 years. Woo
time does fly by.
Let me explain how I went from Rubyconf to The Conf. We need to go BACK 10 years.
In 2006 I was at the top of my game doing Enterprise Java for the SAP industry.
Then, THIS shit happened.
When I saw the 15 minute blog and I’ve decided to learn this odd new language, I
knew I had to have more of that. And it was a turning point in my career. I was about
to accept a senior management position in a big traditional Brazilian company.
Instead, I politely declined the offer. And jumped into a tiny role as a freelancer for a
small Utah consultancy called Surgeworks. I would make less than a 1/3 of what I was
making in the SAP industry in a much more risky position. But I did it anyway.
There was no Ruby, no Agile development in Brazil. Either I'd try to move to the USA
or simply try to forget that tech like Ruby even exist and conform to the realities of
the Brazilian industry. Those were NOT the options I wanted, so I invented a third.
I struggled a lot but it did work out in the end. After almost 2 years I did another
change: from Region Manager of Surgeworks, to Junior Manager at Locaweb.
Again, I struggled a lot to the point that it was unhealthy. I endured and climbed the
ENTIRE career ladder again. Finally I saw it through and decided to move on.
In those difficult years, I organized 2 Rails Summit events.
I’m not here to BORE you with my LinkedIn profile, but that’s just to state a point in
my behavior: I see something I want to change, and I go and try to change it. Once I
do, I move on.
I've been doing that through the past 25 years, I never settle. Every time I feel too
comfortable I start to get very anxious.
Speaking of being anxious. I see that most people have a difficult dilemma.
In one hand, most would rather have a stable career, a so-called “predictable” life,
one that you believe should be good to foster a family for example.
On the OTHER hand, the longer that so called "stability" stands the more anxious you
How long will this last? Will my company retain me for a long time? Will I still have my
job 10 years from now? What if the tech I am good at right now becomes obsolete in
Oddly I found a good metaphor in Netflix. They have this strategy they call Chaos
Monkey – which is actually just one piece of what they call a Simian Army.
They frequently CRASH random parts of their infrastructure on purpose. To make sure
the systems are really robust and that they know how to properly handle those
I Chaos Monkey myself every once in a while. I create opportunities to fail on
purpose. I don’t need anyone to keep validating my choices, I just go and do them.
• Social Media Week
• Brazil Independent Game Festival (BIG)
• Campus Party
• Conferência Ethos 360º
• eShow SP
• RD Summit
• Semana Imersão Marketing Digital
• Social Media Happy Hour
• Eventos da Academia Trianons
• PICNIC Brasil
• Big Data Week
• Cloud World Forum LatAm
• Congresso Fecomercio de Crimes Eletrônicos
• Fórum E-commerce Brasil
• Gartner Symposium
• IT Forum Expo
• Mobile Brazil Conference
• PHP Conference
• Python Brasil
• QCon SP e Rio
• Rubyconf Brasil
• Mind The Sec Forum
• Roadsec 2017
• Ciab Febraban
• Circuito Startup
• Congresso ABVCAP
• Demo Day
• Gala LatAm Founders
• Semana Global do Empreendedorismo
• Startup Weekend
• Virada Empreendedora
Once upon a time, Brazil didn't have enough tech events. But nowadays we have a
lot. Most of them concentrated in the big cities. This slide is just a small example.
If we add the frequent meetups going on everywhere, the options are endless.
And it's great that we now have so many options. It's almost impossible to attend all
of them! So kudos to everyone that contributes to make those events possible.
I have been frequently travelling to distant places where there are less options. For
example, I just came back from Macapá city way North, and I am about to go South to
Criciúma city in a couple of weeks.
Whenever I go to more distant places relative to São Paulo, I am APPALLED by the
perspectives people have there. They have LOTS of problems. And while I am talking
here, I remember of all the people I met.
Their local industry has too few options. Because of the public sector, the industry is
usually tiny. Some of the talents end up going to the public sector. And the few small
private companies exist mainly to serve those public institutions, and in a negative
cycle, this ends up stiffening the industry. The public sector has few reasons to
innovate. So students come out of college without options unless they leave their
home towns to big cities like São Paulo.
But those are not the only options. You can always make a third option.
The world doesn't have enough GOOD programmers. There are big companies from
everywhere hiring from everywhere. This renders geography almost irrelevant. It
doesn't matter where you live, just how good you are. And to be good, it doesn't
require fancy degrees, just effort and sweat. Our profession has the advantage that
good self-learners are indistinguishable from the average college student abroad.
If only Brazilians got used to speak in English.
If you follow me, you know that I have been droning around quite a lot. Last time I
was at Paulista Ave and I decided to visit the FNAC book store.
Out of curiosity I stopped by the computer section. And this is what I found.
Once upon a time, anyone learning about computers and programming could rely on
that section in any good bookstore. Nowadays, even the dictionary section has more
This reflects a reality: there are fewer books, because demand for translated book
decreased dramatically. Good developers are learning online. They not only read
digital books but also watch dozens of hours of tech talks from many events.
People abroad do the same. But it strikes me that almost no gringo searches for
Brazilian tech talks. Why?
A couple of days ago I was recording a new podcast episode for Ruby Rogues, so I
asked 2 of my fellow rubyists there to answer me when was the last time they
searched for the tech talk of a Brazilian speaker?
Meh, we don’t need no imperialist americans to understand us, screw us, AM I
I understand that it feels like we are bowing to the “Imperialists” and it feels
PATRIOTIC to renounce doing their ways. Who are we fooling? We are Americanized
already, buying Macbooks, eating McDonald’s, and riding Uber.
The Chinese, the Russians, the Indians, they understood it: by using the same
weapons, they are more robust in the global market. And not less patriots.
In the past 10 years I probably delivered up to 200 talks, most in Brazil. But I was
fortunate to be able to speak in Baltimore, New York City, Amsterdam, Moscow, Tel
Aviv, and Tokyo.
Obviously while in the USA, I presented in English. But it was also English that I used
in all the other countries. I was particularly surprised by how ubiquitous English is in
Amsterdam or Tel Aviv. And I know that it's normal to speak English in many countries
in Europe and some in Asia.
An Israeli doesn't feel awkward to speak in English or hear another Israeli speaking in
Now let me ask you this. Who feels the most awkward listening to Brazilians speaking
Other Brazilians feel ashamed of other Brazilians. Because our instinctive reaction is
"look how bad this guy is making us look like for the gringos“ or “he’s a sell out to the
imperialists, shame on him”.
Let's hear this clip from the "Small Advantages" YouTube channel, by a North
American named Gavin, who learned to speak Portuguese by himself and regularly
posts videos teaching Brazilians the ins and outs of crazy English idiosyncrasies. He
recorded some of his friends commenting about the controversial Joel Santana
interview we just watched.
Sounds like it's an exaggeration when I say that most foreigners are way less critical of
other people's accents. Brazilians, even those who never attempted to speak in
public, heavily criticize other Brazilians.
To the point that it makes us all feel intimidated to even try.
It's so weird, that an event like this feels very strange, alien, and awkward.
It always feels like we are the underdogs, forever without future and without hope,
because we are alone in some distant God forsaken place on Earth. No good local
companies to go work for. No good opportunities. Our country is going nowhere. And
we keep feeling like there is nothing that we can do.
I don't think so.
Remember I mentioned Tel Aviv? It was a phenomenal place with phenomenal
people. I have never been so impressed by a place. And I fully intend to return there
in the near future.
I stayed at this small hotel downtown, next to a small shopping center.
A few days after I left, a bomb exploded in a bus not a few blocks away from my
hotel! I am not one that can judge, but you know that they have been in conflict for a
very long time. It’s a war zone and incidents like that happen.
I wonder, how that small group of people, against all odds, set root in an inhospitable
desert and thrived. Innovation wise, after Silicon Valley, you have to look to Israel.
The Waze app, for example, is another Israeli tech startup that I first knew about
while I was there in 2012.
Israelis are not the kind of people that procrastinate, feeling sorry for their sad
conditions. They dare. That’s what they call chutzpah! In your face.
That reminded me about a Malcolm Gladwell book I have been reading, it starts with
a very compelling underdog tale.
It's a story of something that supposedly happened 3,000 years ago, when the
Kingdom of Israel was in its infancy. And it takes place in an area called the
Shephelah in what is now Israel.
This is the deal: this is a region with lots of mountains and valleys. The Philistines
moved along the southern ridge from the coastal plain. King Saul moved his army
along the northern ridge. The goal was the conquest of Bethlehem. Both armies got
very close, but then they stop. They end up in a deadlock situation. Neither want to
advance further down the valley and up in the mountain because you become an
To break the deadlock, the Philistines send their mightiest warrior down into the
valley floor, and he calls out and he says to the Israelites, "Send your mightiest
warrior down, and we'll have this out, just the two of us."
King Saul find himself without a volunteer. Only one person comes forward, a young
Having no other option Saul has to trust in this boy. Who is also crazy enough to not
want to wear any armor.
Instead, the boy picks up nothing but some stones from the ground while walking
down the mountainside to face the giant. The giant sees him approaching and calls
out “Come to me so I can feed your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts
of the field." And the shepherd gets closer and closer. The giant sees that he's
carrying a staff. He gets insulted and says "Am I a dog that you would come to me
And the shepherd boy takes one of his stones out of his pocket, puts it in his sling and
rolls it around and lets it fly and it hits the giant right between the eyes -- in his most
vulnerable spot -- and he falls down dead or unconscious, and the boy runs up and
takes his sword and cuts his head off, and the Philistines see this and they just turn
And of course, the name of the giant is Goliath and the name of the shepherd boy is
David. And Malcolm says that everything we think we know about that story is
So David, in that story, is supposed to be the underdog, right? Now why do we call
David an underdog? Well, because he’s just this little kid, and Goliath is this big,
strong giant. An experienced warrior against a shepherd seems unfair. Most
importantly, Goliath has all this modern weaponry, fully equipped, and all David has is
Now, let’s Sherlock the hell out of this.
David is not carrying a slingshot. It’s not a child’s toy. This is a serious weapon. How
serious you ask, better show you.
Let me summarize. Rocks in the Valley of Elah aren’t normal, it’s barium sulphate,
twice the density of normal stone. Shoot one of those with a sling and you get the
stopping power of a Magnum .45 caliber handgun. And slingers are said to be precise
from distances up to 200 yards!
Everybody, Goliath, King Saul, the armies, they were expecting a hand-to-hand close
quarters combat. David never gets this close, he knows what he’s doing.
Goliath is a sitting duck. He has no chance.
There has been lots of researchers writing medical papers about Goliath. In summary,
the symptoms suggest that he might have giantism, specifically acromegaly. It’s tumor
which causes the pituitary gland to overproduce growth hormone.
That’s why he moves so slow in the story.
Worse, acromegaly affects the vision. That’s why he needs an attendant to lead him
into the battle field. And that’s why he shouts “Come to me” to David, because he
can’t go to him. And that’s why he thinks he sees David carrying more than one stick.
His vision sucks.
The Insraeli army thought they were looking at a formidable foe. But Goliath is just a
slow giant with bad vision. The source of his apparent strength ends up being his
And this is a very important lesson for all of us. Giants are not as strong and powerful
as they seem. And sometimes the shepherd boy has a sling in his pocket.
With that thought in mind, let’s jump into another favorite author of mine, Yuval
Harari. Coincidentally, from Israel. If you didn't I highly recommend that you read
both of his books, Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus.
In a nutshell, imagine a desert island in unknown location in the middle of the Ocean.
Now drop a Monkey and a stupid Sapiens there.
The Monkey will probably not only survive but thrive. He’ll be just fine.
The Sapiens may struggle a lot and maybe survive for more than a couple of weeks,
but if he's like me, he'll probably despair and die of starvation or poisoning or both!.
Now, drop 1k Sapiens and 1k Apes in the same island. I promise you that now,
Sapiens will develop an entire society and civilization and the Apes will certainly
either be domesticated or totally extinct in no time.
Apes are very close to us. They not only have physical strength, but they can reason
and solve problems and communicate with his peers. What’s about Sapiens that
makes us so different then?
We have the ability to create stories, not only communicate factual reality like
Monkeys and other animals. And even though Apes communicate they don’t usually
trust outsiders or strangers. Now, Sapiens, through story telling, can coordinate a
whole lot more people. Most importantly, coordinate with large number of strangers.
Just through stories! What kinds of stories Sapiens use to coordinate with large
All sorts. Religions. Politics. Ideologies. They’re all a coordination mechanism.
Religion and Science claim that they are in search of the truth. But neither is actually
interested in the truth. Religion wants order. Science want power, the power to cure
diseases for example. Science needs Religion to some extent. Faith is required to fund
Science, and Religion provide the faith. It’s mutually beneficial relationship.
As example of the power of storytelling, we invented this story about this abstract
thing we call “a company”, which is something that doesn’t exist in the real world as
an entity. It's just a story.
Even after the founders die that entity called “Mercedes” keeps existing. It owns the
factories, and employs the workers, and pays the suppliers, and manufactures cars
and trucks. But it’s not a person, not a mountain. It’s everything and nothing at the
same time. It’s timeless, but it only requires one judge to sign it’s dissolution, and this
entity ceases to exist. It dies, even though it was not a living being.
That entity we call a company is technically just a bunch of signed paper.
Money is also paper and something that doesn't exist, the paper by itself is a
worthless piece of junk. We can't eat it. We can't drink it. But through stories we give
value to that piece of paper.
How long until we cross the line and make artificial intelligence not only able to own
property – like companies -- but make decisions, do transactions, make a profit, keep
it to itself and negotiate directly with other AIs?
Our stories culminated in the Industrial Revolution last century. And that rendered
most of the heavy lifting labor obsolete as we replaced them with big factories and
many robots and other equipment. We have been automating like crazy. Tons of jobs
in the early XX century just disappeared, replaced by factories and machines.
It was always common sense to assume that we'd be relatively safe because Sapiens
would just graduate to jobs that require more intellect, cognition, and taste instead of
We freed the machines from our cold desks into the cloud and into our pockets. We
already have digital assistants in our pockets and because of the Internet we already
have most of our knowledge and biography in cloud services. In a sense we already
evolved past Sapiens into one kind of cyborgs, humans with enhanced abilities that
far surpass Sapiens of a century ago.
Btw, front-end and UX developers take note: the web UI is a SOLVED problem. Get
over it. There are a number of non-web UX that are still uncharted territory. That’s
where you should be focusing!
But, I digress, let me get back to Skynet …
Consider that Machine Learning and Data Sciences have been evolving VERY fast
lately. Google and Facebook certainly have better insight about you than your own
mother! Actually, they probably know you better than you know yourself. Algorithms
now control how you feel and behave about everything, including politics.
Remember, if something is free, you are the product.
Exactly 20 years ago, we brute forced our way into beating the top chess player in
world, in the famous Deep Blue versus Kasparov.
This year we smartly played our way into the last and most ancient and most difficult
table game of all: the elusive game of Go. AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol went into history,
because it was not only that AI matched the best human players, it was way above
And here’s why I say that we, programmers, are Davids – and our slings are as mighty
-- we will play a role in the Cognitive Revolution, the last frontier. And if you think this
sounds like science fiction. Have you seen AI composed songs?
This AI aided music composition, but we’re getting dangerously close to delegate
creative work to machine learning.
It's impossible to go toe to toe against a Goliath. Goliath is this powerful feeling of
powerlessness. This notion that because I am from this far and poor land, without
local opportunities, I will never thrive.
I’d say that we are all Davids. We have the slings in our hands. We are not wearing
heavy and clumsy armor, going toe to toe against a formidable foe. The world is
moving forward, and I am inviting you all to join this ride. It’s not just about speaking
in English, you know how to do that. We are also not going to patronize you,
underestimate you, wherever you are.
People from big cities keep underestimating people from small cities. But my
experience says that great minds can come from anywhere.
We have to wash away this self image of the underdog being a bad thing, and just
keep lamenting our conditions while doing nothing.
When I complained that Brazil didn’t have any opportunist for Ruby or Agile 10 years
ago, I didn’t spend my time whining and lamenting about it on Twitter. I went to
work. A lot of patience and consistent work through a long period of time. That’s how
you achieve things. Grown ups don’t lament on Twitter, we do the dirty work no one
wants to do.
Let’s try that again. I've been doing small steps over the last couple of years.
The goal here is to set an EXAMPLE. We have been changing the tech industry by
setting good examples and delivering undeniable results, of how we can be real agile,
quickly learning new and innovative tools and also quickly applying them in real world
The industry is following suit. Now we’re adding 2 new goals here. Making Brazilian
programmers to really SEE, with their OWN eyes, that we evolved a lot since Joel
Santana. We are every bit as good as the Americans Rockstar programmers, and at
their own turfs. Time and time again I hear about great Brazilians being hired by
overseas companies. And many of them are people just like you and me.
This David is going to give Goliath a run for its money.
2001 – Agile Gathering – 17 attendees
2001 – Rubyconf USA – 65 attendees
2007 – RejectConf SP - ~50 attendees
2017 – THE CONF – 350 attendees
It reminds me about other events. In early February of 2001, a group of 17 people
met at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. Then the
Agile Manifesto was born.
Also in 2001 Guy Hurst came up with the idea of the very first Rubyconf. He did all the
work but was unable to finish it, so Dave Thomas stepped in and recruited Chad
Fowler and David Black. This is how it all began. They were able to bring in around 65
people at that time.
In 2007 I decided that it was time for the Brazilian community to gather and thus
RejectConf SP was born. Many known people from our Ruby community were there
and we had possibly around 50 people total. That became the seed to the larger Rails
Summit and Rubyconf.
THE CONF was conceived almost a year ago. I had my doubts if we would be able to
pull it off because of the prejudices against Brazilians speaking in English.
I am VERY thankful that InfoQ Brasil jumped into the train immediately. They will play
a key role after we wrap up the event, to deliver all the content that you will see
today to the world. I really appreciate their trust in the community. Just to give you an
exact idea, this event costs almost BRL 100k to make as it is. Ticket sales for tech
events usually don’t leave a profit. Our revenue was BRL 45k. InfoQ sponsored one
piece. The rest of the bill was payed in full by the company I co-founded. We finally
come full circle in my own story.
I don’t ever expect other people to come on board just because I say so. I believe in
merit. I believe in people that have real skin in the game. Which is why I want to show
my deepest appreciation for all the speakers that travelled from very far, and invested
a lot of time putting together the great presentations that we will see today. This is a
very important step into making Brazilian developers believe in themselves more. Not
only to find their places in the global arena, but to also be agents of change.
I hope you all enjoy.
And before we kick off, a few final messages. Try not to lose your bracelets. We are
not being too rigid but it will make the service of security easier to avoid strangers.
Just to be sure, always carry your stuff with you, don’t leave them unattended. Don’t
worry about rushing to get your t-shirts, they’ll be available all day. We have a tight
schedule so please don’t extend lunch time too long. And tomorrow, try to wake up
early. If you have any questions look for anyone with a Staff t-shirt like mine. You will
be able to watch both parallel talks at the same time, how cool is that? You will have
selectors A/B for this first screen and selectors C/D for the second screen. Try to seat
near, in the middle.
Let’s get this thing rolling! You guys rock!