What I Learned from Giving a Dart Talk

At 5:30 P.M., I hooked my laptop up to a projector and promptly began giving a presentation to a whopping six people.

The number might sound small to you, but to me, it was a really big number of people to show up to a talk by a guy who had not, up to this point, done really anything of much value. Today, people had come from across campus mostly for the free food, but also to learn a bit about something called Dart from some freshman with a really long name. As the six stared at me, waiting me to say something, the number that really stood out to me was one.

This was the first time that I had an opportunity to give a "tech talk." For the past few years, I’ve been watching recordings of talks given at conferences across the world, and I have always wanted to someday be the person behind the podium. After attending ACM at FSU‘s first general body meeting, I approached their administration and asked if I could put on a presentation.

"Making Applications in Dart" is an introduction to the Dart programming language. Beyond just an explanation of its origins and syntax, information is given about the various applications of Dart, and where it has been used successfully in production. There is also a section where I scaffolded a basic Flutter application, and then rewrote it from scratch. Overall, the presentation was a pretty convincing way of persuading people to try their hands at Dart.

The slides can be found here.

Though I was the one sharing the information, this was more of a learning experience for me than anything else. Thus far, my experience with programming has largely been a solo act – everything I wrote or did was based on my own experiences and perspectives. Obviously, this does not work as well when you are trying to relay information to other people. When creating the slides, I had to really think differently than I usually do to try to create content that is consumable by everyone. Usually, I am not in an environment where I have to answer other people’s questions, either. This experience really taught me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace learning as a collaborative process.

I am extremely grateful to Jon Clow and FSU’s branch of ACM for giving me the opportunity to talk about a technology in front of a crowd for the first time in my life. I am also thankful to my parents; although they live too far away to have been able to attend, they sent me good luck wishes and congratulations. I also would like to extend gratitude to Kevin Moore, Randal L. Schwartz, and Joel Trottier-Herbert for their comments and feedback on the slides before I gave the presentation. Without the support of others in the community, it is impossible to bring any idea into fruition.

I fully intend to continue talking and writing about what I do. I believe that the future is already here; one just has to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him to get there. Hopefully, this will be just the first of many presentations, and I hope that this path will lead to more opportunities for me to share knowledge and ideas with new people.