Liverpool Tester Gathering – James Whittaker

Working in IT, hearing the stories and learning from the experiences of others is always a pleasure. For me it is important to not only stay relevant with current technological developments, but also to listen and learn from the experiences of others in the industry. A bonus is they have plenty of stories, worth listening to, as I discovered at last month’s Liverpool Tester Gathering event.

Held at Signature Living’s Shankly Hotel, the event featured James Whittaker, who is a renowned engineer, futurist and speaker on technology. Having heard the buzz about the event in the weeks and months beforehand, I was very much looking forward to this event. As it turned out, a packed out audience of 180 people including myself were not disappointed.

From start to finish, I was impressed with how James drew on his vast experiences in technology and testing. Along with pearls of testing wisdom there was also plenty of humour, which helped make for a talk that was clear to understand.

The event was introduced by Leigh Rathbone from The Very Group, who explained briefly about Liverpool Tester Gathering’s origins, it’s punk-like attitude and how it was inspired by the legendary Factory Records in Manchester. There were also further introductions from Andy Burton from The Very Group, and Dave Parkinson from Sony, who both talked about the importance of remaining relevant.

Following this, James was given a rousing introduction, and proceeded to give a tour-de-force of a tech talk. Relating to his experience and knowledge of software testing. James explained about how it has changed, from the age of silicon chips, the Internet and the cloud.

There was plenty of interesting testing facts that I learned. Some were not just about testing, but also highlighted to me the importance of keeping up-to-date with new technological trends.

These points include the following:

  1. Build things fast and build the right ones.
  2. Don’t get too comfortable with what you do today, as it will prevent you doing stuff tomorrow.
  3. Google and Microsoft disbanded their software testing organisations.
  4. The cloud has completely changed the testing game.
  5. In the new world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, bias in data are the new bugs to be tested.
  6. Creativity is about asking the right questions.

From all of the above, I was fascinated by James’s knowledge on testing. Indeed, what I understood is that from the age of silicon chips, to cloud computing today, we have moved beyond testing software and code. This is because we are on the cusp of a new era of technological change with AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT), meaning that users, developers and testers must learn and adapt.

I would like to thank James for giving an interesting talk, and to everyone at Liverpool Tester Gathering for organising the event. My thanks also go to Lawrence Kenwright and everyone at The Shankly Hotel for hosting the event. On reflection I came away having not only enjoyed listening to James, but I also came away having learned plenty, underpinned by the following words.

We need software testers like we have never before!

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