I just completed speaking at my 8th Entwickler Konferenz in Frankfurt (I missed the first two, so this one was EKON 10). Speaking at international conferences is enlightening because you quickly learn that the concerns and priorities of US developers don't apply all over the world. For example, I started speaking about Java at this conference back in 1999. At the time, the most popular tool was Delphi and I couldn't get the time of day from most developers when talking about Java. Germany IT is traditionally very conservative and Java was still an upstart platform. By 2001, Java became the safe choice and suddenly there was not 1 but 2 full conferences devoted to it (JAX and WJAX) that drew bigger crowds than Entwickler (which, by the way, is German for "Developer"). This year, I'm talking to everyone about Ruby on Rails in the hallways and no one has heard of it. That'll change in February, when I'm proposing a RoR talk at the Webinale Konferenz.
An interesting thing happened at breakfast this morning that highlights why I like this conference so much. Terry (my colleague from Atlanta) and I planned to meet another speaker from Amsterdam who we've known for years for breakfast before heading out for bicycling in the German countryside. While we were eating and chatting, one of the conference attendees came over, introduced himself and sat down (drawn by the sound of English and his recognition of one of the 3 of us from our sessions). A little later, another attendee came and sat on the other side. Before too long, we realized that our table had representatives from the US (Atlanta), Amsterdam, Greece, and Nigeria. We had 3 continents covered! Virtually no where else in the world can you spontaneously gather a group like this to talk about technology, programming, and weather. Just like working for an international company, it broadens your perspective on technology and other more important things.