10th June, 2007

@Media Europe 2007 - the usual long-winded rambling overview

Well, that had to be the best @Media to date. The general consensus was that this year’s conference was a belter on all counts, and personally I thought the presentations were particularly optimistic and positive. Again I’ve got my post-conference verve and spirit back, and can’t wait to plough into the workload tomorrow.

What follows is a fatigue-laden ramble that I probably won’t even spell-check or re-read as I’m cream-crackered and would just like to go to sleep.

Atmedia montageFigure 1: Photo credits clockwise from top-left from Rachel Andrew, image of Drew from my slides, Taz Hussain, James Mellor

A few favourites

I especially enjoyed the thought-provoking presentations of Mark Boulton, Jon Hicks, Hannah Donovan and Simon “Speedy” Willison. As usual, Andy Clarke delivered a cracker, and as usual I was lucky enough to see his presentation twice (don’t ask). I’d love to say that I enjoyed Jason’s talk, but I was far too nervous at that time, so I have no idea what he covered. It looked good though.

High-Noon Shoot-out

I had the pleasure of presenting the High-Noon Shoot-out with Drew,  with an impromptu introduction from me old mucker Malarkey. I truly enjoyed banging on in front of a packed room and could have carried on for hours. I decided not to read from my notes, so I may have seemed a little waffly, but I guess that’s OK, even if it meant I didn’t quite remember some of my finely-crafted phrases to counter those Drew was peppering the audience with. I’ve done a panel or two, but it was the first time I’d presented to a big crowd of fellow webheads, so I appreciate any leniancy you gave me. Perhaps the context of the presentation wasn’t very easy for a beginner, but I reckon it went down pretty well.

For the two or three people who took umbridge with our presentation, you need to know that we were deliberately taking the piss

Although they’ll be entirely out of context without Drew’s own slides, I have uploaded my presentation slides as a 2MB PDF. Equally, our presentation was very much a “you had to be there” jobby, as the whole thing was deliberately tongue-in-cheek and presented with so much hammy acting that we’re quite surprised we got away with it. Update: The machine-like Joe Clark has posted his live-blogging notes from our presentation.

That said, a couple of people seemed to think I was suggesting that an accessible website cannot be a beautiful website, but just about anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been building with web standards for six years, write books about such things and wouldn’t compromise any site’s accessibility or usability for love nor money. I did discuss some examples of beautiful and innovative standards-based sites in the presentation, but I think a couple of attendees had simply decided that I was on a standards-bashing rant, or that Drew thinks visual design is pointless. I appreciated the offer of some web standards tuition, but I think it best that I decline.

I guess what we tried to do might have been a little dangerous, but then again, I do believe that irony is one of the more obvious verbal styles. Hey, even Joe Clark said he liked it. I did ask him why he yawned throughout, but apparently it was due to him having to live blog at the same time. Good enough for me. Anyway, aside from a couple of people who didn’t “get” it, everyone else said very kind things about it, which made me very happy. Thanks you lovely people.

Drew won the props war, with his supremely confident distribution of placards. He generally had me in stitches throughout. What few knew is that Drew and I had discussed all manner of props, and I too had readied placards, plus badges and couple of widgets for the plinth. Unfortunately my own printer let me down an hour before I left for London, and a last-minute Islington-based emergency print-run failed to happen due to the absence of yellow toner, apparently. Hey-ho - just wasn’t meant to be.

Still, when it came to the vote, I think it was clear that I won, although a draw was more fitting and in line with the moral of the tale. Drew may disagree, but he definitely saw all those design votes. I dunno, maybe I should be generous and say it was a 50/50 split. Either way, it was a blast, and I think we both really enjoyed it, not least because you all laughed at our funny bits. Gor bless yer.

A very social conference, and I have now lost my voice

I don’t think I have ever talked quite so much in my life. I literally talked to people for three days solid. My voice has all but gone now, but it was certainly worth it. It was a joy to spend so much quality time with my Brit Pals (who frequently chastise me for being a hermit) plus many of the folks I first met last year. I especially enjoyed the incessant attempts to convert Jason Santa Maria into a truly English “chap”. Certainly, the warm ale, bangers and mash, and faux pipe smoking were befitting such a smashing gentleman.  I guess dinner with Joe, Mark (and the charming Missus), Andy and Ian could have been better, but at least it was the atrocious food - not the company - that was to blame. I especially enjoyed meeting partners (and even offspring) of quite a few friends. @Media, the family conference.

It’d be foolish to try and list all the great people I was lucky to meet and spend time with this year, as I’ll only fail to mention a few. Besides, three days on the warm bitter has addled my noggin somewhat. That said I must mention the super-Dutch folks who were out in force, especially Hugo, Low (Lodewijk), Kristiann and Chantal. As yet unlinked hat doffs to Chris the Scouser from Colchester, and the gentlemanly Joe Epstein. I failed to grab cards or further info from many of those who said “hello”, and some of you had very long names, so do drop me a line.

I would also like to apologise for continually giving books to female attendees, but I’d like to think that such behaviour can be considered forgivable.

As much as I enjoyed attending previously as a member of the Agenzia team, it was especially good to be representing (with Jamie Pittock) our own company - now eight months old and strong as an ox. Top marks to Jamie for putting up with me for three full days and nights, and thank you to everyone who asked how the agency is doing. We still didn’t meet any awesome or potentially so Notts-based designers or developers in need of work though. Shame, as we need some.

What was my point? Yes. Sociable. Definitely. There seems to be even more “networking” (read smoking) time built in with every new conference, and most agree that this is vital. Lots of new friends, ideas, and it now appears that I owe drinks to half of the Netherlands, Philly, Brighton, and even a tiny part of Singapore. When the final panel summed up, we ran to the pub, and I had the very best seat outside, facing the sun and leaning back on the wall, with a pint in hand and friends all around. I had one of those “I’m so glad I do what I do” moments, and I see no harm in sharing that with you.

A quick thank you

Anyway, I have waffled on for far too long as usual. To conclude, I just wanted to say thank you to Andy Clarke, Jon Hicks, Drew McLellan, Mark Boulton, Jamie Pittock, Oliver Wood and Patrick Griffifths for the support - no matter how small or merely verbal - with my presentation. Much appreciated, chaps. Pints owed.

Joe Clark’s live-blogging notes

Joe Clark‘s live-blogging notes from our presentation, notes from Jason Santa Maria’s presentation, notes from Mark Boulton’s presentation, notes from Jon’s presentation and notes from Hakon Wium Lie’s presentation.

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