27th June, 2009

@Media2009: The Process Toolbox

Yesterday I was very fortunate to speak at @Media 2009 alongside Andy Clarke, Jon Hicks, Dan Rubin, Mark Boulton and Jason Santa Maria. It’s been a fun but intense few days. Here’s a summary -  a bit rushed as I’m somewhat knackered.

Organic ProcessFigure 1: Organic collaborative process.

I’ve spoken at @Media before, but this was a big one for me. Single-track, my own topic, plenty at stake. Bizarrely after all the build up, I wasn’t at all nervous, and really enjoyed it. I could have waffled on for hours. I get a real kick out of doing presentations, so why I worry so much I’ve no idea.

Collaborating with Gregory

I spent many weeks working on my presentation, and am particularly proud of the slides themselves. These were the result of a thorough and enjoyable collaboration with my colleague and friend Greg Wood, who is in my eyes a total genius. Together we scoped out the visual ideas, structural flow and design details like one big storyboard, very carefully evolving the slides. Greg’s use of type and textures really seals the approach.

Within all of this, his idiosyncratic illustrations really impress - he’s got an uncanny way of describing a lot with just a few simple line drawings, and we had plenty of fun sketching out scenarios and silly ways of representing the topics. His final drawings are funny as hell - I love them.

We really tried give the thing a unique, lovingly crafted feel. It was refreshing to pour our creativity into something that doesn’t typically run in a browser.

Process slidesFigure 2: Selected slide designs.

So far lots of people seem to appreciate the efforts we made, which is wonderful. Gregory - I fucking love you for caring so much about this and doing all of that work. I owe you lots of beer. Such a shame he couldn’t join me at the conference, choosing instead to do a 7-day intensive diving course. Big thanks to all of my colleagues actually, as they offered plenty of support and allowed us to use plenty of office time to get this done.

I got a bit miffed earlier after receiving a couple of emails etc suggesting I was “out of order” to “get somebody else to do all [my] slides”, forcing me to try and explain via Twitter (140 characters was all I could deal with) about the concept of “collaboration”. Both Greg and I worked very hard on the slides, and pulling the narrative together took me a long time. I don’t know why I get so angry about one or two stupid people, especially when everyone else liked the talk.

The presentation

I wrote a 25-page script in exact detail to accompany the slides and ensure it was well-researched and made sense, but on the day I know I muddied a few points and waffled on way too many tangents. Its never a good idea to read from notes, and I do love just pacing the stage and having little rants (and I did indeed have a good rant), but this does mean I forgot some salient points. Still, the response was really positive, and lots of folks wrote/said they took great ideas away with them. That’s the best thing I could read/hear.

Anyway, I’ll probably release parts of the script as a number of blog posts over at our ErskineLabs site in the coming weeks.

Take a look…

You can download the slides as a 12mb PDF if you wish, or view on Speakerdeck with a bit more dynamic detail:

The conference at large

Hot on the heals of AEA Boston, it seems many similar themes were pooling, such as designing in the browser, dealing with IE6, the idea of the “system”, @font-face and foundries, and lots of talk about process and sharing business ideas and methods. I missed some of day two, but day one was thoroughly useful, with my brain swelling with the terrific knowledge being piped into it. I have so many ideas I want to try out back in the office now.

As with all great conferences, it was as much social as educational, and I met plenty of old friends and wonderful new people at the venue, in the bars, and in the “greasy spoons”. Way too many people to mention, but it was great to chat with all of you. There are probably plenty of pictures on Flickr - and don’t miss David Emery’s speaker shots. I also rather like Jeremy’s geeks on a bridge shots.

@Media will be presented by Web Directions

Finally, a huge “thank you” to Patrick Griffiths who has almost single-handedly organised the events for the last five years. He’s done an exceptional job for myself, my colleagues and the industry as a whole.

Patrick is moving on to follow other paths (albeit remaining as an advisor), leaving @Media in the very capable hands of John and Maxine - the folks behind Web Directions. Best of luck to all concerned. No doubt we’ll all be there again on 2010.

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