When Edge was announced and I saw the names of some of the speakers that would be attending, I decided that I absolutely had to go.
The ticket application process alone required detailing my capabilities in a CV-like manner, plus a small essay on why I should be invited in the hope it would persuade the reader that I should be allocated a ticket.
At the time I had huge doubts that I was qualified to go and fully expected to get turned down. I hesitantly filled out the text box and crossed my fingers tightly as I clicked send, feeling completely out of my depth with the level of knowledge required to make it onto the invited list.
Imagine my delight when I received an email confirming that I had been successful in applying and inviting me to attend.
Periodical email arrived giving further details about what to expect and also setting homework in preparation for the day. One task was to add questions to the Google moderator board to pose to the panellists for each of the topics.
I would visit the board and read through the questions and each time I would become a little bit more anxious – I didn't understand the vast majority, let alone feel able to add anything constructive to answer them. What hope did I have of fitting in?!
The little niggle that I really wasn't qualified to attend kept getting stronger and stronger. And then 'last week' happened.
Sarah Parmenter and several others spoke up. Edge had already come under huge scrutiny by the web community for the lack of female panellists, rightly or wrongly, I had managed to push this right to the back of my mind, I had been invited to attend and I would be in the company of people from the industry that I have a huge amount of respect for.
As the week progressed and more females in the industry spoke out my niggle started to turn into something resembling paranoia. Having read Jenn Lukas' post the previous night, I was enjoying breakfast in the Facebook offices with Andy Davies, Adam Auckland and Ken Wallis observing the people around me and finally I put my finger on my anxiety: I couldn't see any other females. There were none!
Thankfully a few more filtered in but looking around the room throughout the day the ratio was disappointing. I couldn't help wondering if I had been invited on merit or purely because I was a female that had applied for tickets and Edge were desperately trying to get their numbers up.
On the day
Approaching my seat with trepidation I sat to listen to the first topic: Offline.
The day started off at a blistering pace which did not let up. Each topic lasted an hour but could easily fill a day in its own right. The low level detail forming the discussions became eye-watering.
The format of the conference was unusual yet worked perfectly. A lightning talk (lasting no longer than 10 minutes), followed by a moderator asking questions raised and voted on by the audience.
My brain physically ached by the end of the day but in a really good way. It hurt from being surrounded by the sheer talent and genius of the attendees and from being pushed far beyond its usual thinking capacity.
After wracking my brains in the days and weeks leading up to Edge and fretting over not being able to think of a single question to ask, which had led to me worrying about what this meant, what kind of developer was I if I couldn't think of one-single-question to contribute. I am very proud that I managed to think of two questions to submit, one of which got asked during the Network topic.
As a result of what Edge delivered as a conference, all my thoughts of the female to male ratio vanished, what became evident was that the people who were there, were there because they deserved to be and because they had earned it-regardless of gender. Attending was an honour and a privilege and I am looking forward to the next Edge event and for some more brain pain.
I hope that next time the male/female ratio is much more even, but I hope even more that Edge continue to invite people based on merit. I feel very fortunate to have been part of the first Edge and I hope that for future events they manage to hold onto the essence of what made the very first Edge so special.
Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to make Edge happen.