Back in my early days as a database administrator, almost 16 years ago, I happened upon a web site called SQL Server Central. Because I found so many useful articles and forum posts, the site was open in my browser at work every single day. It was a great source of information, and eventually, I found that I was developing “friendships” with some of the other forum members, even though this was before the days of the social media we have today. There was a nice sense of comradery as people tried to help each other.
A couple of years later, my manager allowed me to attend PASS Summit in Seattle. I didn’t quite connect with many people that year, but I learned a lot. Since the experience was worthwhile, my manager agreed to send me again the next year. This was the year that really changed both my career and life because of a couple of professional development sessions. One encouraged me to become a volunteer with PASS. The other encouraged me to begin writing and speaking. That was the year that I became part of the community, what we now call #sqlfamily.
Just like a regular family, sometimes we don’t get along, and sometimes we fight amongst ourselves. But, generally, I believe that most of us care about each other. We are always willing to help each other, be that by providing a technical answer or donating towards a fundraising goal. The hardest part is when we must mourn the loss one of our members who has left this earth.
Events like PASS Summit and SQL Saturday have helped make the data platform community what it is today, but there have been several trends started at PASS Summit that have helped people get to know each other and build that sense of community. One of the trends is the wearing of kilts at PASS Summit and other SQL events. My colleague at Redgate, Grant Fritchey, began the tradition back in 2009. Each year, increasing numbers of #sqlkilts are worn on day two of PASS Summit.
I must take credit for starting the second trend, #sqlkaraoke. I invited a friend to visit a karaoke bar, Seattle’s Bush Garden, with me in 2006. Four of us attended karaoke that first night, but it within a couple of years, we would go with thirty or more people. Twelve years later, entire bars are booked for karaoke parties at PASS Summit. And don’t worry if you are not inspired to get up and sing, you can just enjoy watching everyone else.
In addition to kilts and karaoke, #sqlfamily members also run, pray, take photos, visit museums, ride roller coasters, ski, hike, and more together. Most people attend events to learn from the sessions, but connecting through other fun activities is probably just as valuable.