Tuesday, December 6 dawned cold. No, really cold. I’m from Michigan, this was cold. Snowing and still bright. Good thing I’m inside.

The morning started with a lean coffee session hosted by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory. There was a good turnout and really happy exchange of information.

The official opening of the conference – alas, without the regular host Jose Diaz, who is home sick. Filling in for him was Mike Sutton (@mhsutton) – really nice and out-going guy. Smart and crazy friendly. In the middle of the opening came… the Super Agile Person! and a small cast of characters portraying and playing out A Christmas Carol, as applied to software testing and Agile methodologies.

This set up the opening keynote of the conference, by Abby Fichtner, on twitter she’s @HackerHhick, presenting “on what’s possible.” She begins by talking about how she got into software – after her dad bought an Atari (hey, 1980’s!) and the two of them began writing code together.

She walks though her undergrad work and talks about how she got into computers and … hacking. She also talked about the challenge associated with words. Like, how “hack” originally meant, an innovative workaound of a physical object – like – model trains. Except this was in the 1950s and the model trains in question were being done by engineering students at MIT trying to figure out how do drive specific reactions through electronic controls – an early form of programming.

She moves on to “haters gonna hate” – talking about how people with interesting, innovative ideas often get derided for moving forward with things that make no sense to anyone and look like toys. Like, telephones… airplanes… a small gadget called, an “ipod” or something like Amazon Web Services.

All of those things were derided (some very recently) as of no value and the person pushing them had gone round the bend a bit. And the detractors were proven fabulously wrong.

And she moves to an interesting idea that “Evolution is the ultimate hacker.” It is less about engineering and more about making things work – that serve a purpose and will survive. For example, if an animal needs to be flexible, and fast, to not get eaten, they either all get eaten OR they develop the abilities and physical traits needed to survive – flexible wrists, wings, etc.,

She moves to human invention – how a long time is taken to get the ground work in place so that INNOVATION can ACTUALLY happen. We tend to see “innovation” as a magical moment and we don’t see, partly because it is missed by most people, the painful work to make it possible to see the possibilities and maximize the potential. For example, driverless cars – the whole robot car thing. First one was made in 1925. Yeah. It has taken a while to get to where we are today.

Creativity & serendipity have a relationship. According to Abby, a variety of studies have shown that when comparing children’s learning abilities and creative abilities to “innovate” – those with neat, organize thought processes, those often reward at school for being “good students” are often those who do not do the “innovative work” needed – that is often the result of people who have more chaotic thought patterns.

Many times, they are the people who overcome huge obstacles and creat a new world for the rest of us.

You gain strength courage and confidence from exery experience you have faced
 – Eleanor Roosevelt

Art is what we are doing when we make our best work.
– Seth Godin

When we reach out with courage, and do something in spite of fear, we make amazing things happen (she is going really fast – it is nearly impossible for me to keep up – sign of a really well-laden presentation in my mind.)

By creating art (or anything) that is something that defines us as being different and unique – not being part of the faceless masses who blend in and live lives of conformity.

It is by reaching out and creating and daring that make magic happen (she was a year or two behind me at Hogwarts. Different house though.)

And she brings back reference to her blog Hackerchick blog (- Pete note – Yeah. It’s good. Read it You don’t need to agree, just read it and think.)

Important note – Success may come from creativity. Be careful that the same success does not limit your creativity! This is a common problem. Keep challenging your own views and your own self.

OK – great quote during the Q&A – If something scares me, there is magic on the other side. (She’s not a Hufflepuff.)