Monkeying around

What we learned at Monki Gras 2013

Elliot Bentley

The second conference from idiosyncratic analyst firm Redmonk was all about “scaling craft” — and brewing beer.

Last week saw the second Monki
, a small conference run by idiosyncratic analyst firm
Redmonk. Taking place once again
in London’s historical Conway Hall, the sell-out event featured
talks from Ted Nyman of GitHub, Rafe Colburn of Etsy and Chris
Aniszczyk of Twitter.

A conference based around the twin themes of coding and beer might
sound like the ultimate brogrammer event, but Monki Gras was more
about the careful craftsmanship required for specialist beers, and
how the lessons learned applied to software, too.

In fact, the beer theme extended not only to sessions about
beer-themed social networks and Raspberry Pi-based remote brewing
apparatus, but an evening beer-tasting session and talks from local
beer brewers.

That said, the beer was merely a sideline to Monki Gras’ true love:
software development. The theme, “scaling craft”, was explored by a
variety of talks including a discussion scaling up the British
Government Digital
department from 12 to 200 people in just two years and
encouraging craftsmanship and strong design within IBM’s 400,000
employees. Mazz Mosley of GDS was treated to a round of applause
after proclaiming that “needing rockstars is bullshit”.

More out-there talks included one from Chris Thorpe from Boffin,
who laser-scanned a priceless steam train to 3D print scale
replicas, and a discussion of what startups might be able learn
from the field of Ecology by Red Hat evangelist Steve
Citron-Pousty. Within this context, the spoon-carving session
rounding off the final day should have come as little

The food deserves a special mention: massive pastries for
breakfast, delicious sushi for lunch and an evening meal in a
“secret location” which turned out to be a seven-course
at the London Fields Brewery.

If the companies presenting can be taken as any sort of
representative of the future of the field, we should expect more
companies to take flatter structures with fewer “rock stars” and
more diverse, cooperative teams.

And beer. Lots more beer.

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