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@Media Europe 2007

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.

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

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.

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. 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 Emma, 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.

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. Pints owed.


# Taz Hussain responded on 11th June 2007 with...

Hi Simon,

I just wanted to say that I thought your talk was definitely one of the best! It was my first time at @media and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t get a chance to tell you at the event but WELL DONE!

P.s am chuffed you used my pics :-)

# Kristiaan responded on 11th June 2007 with...

It was great meeting you, Simon. I put my thoughts on Drew’s and your presentation in a comment below this Flickr photo.

# budowa domów responded on 11th June 2007 with...

Good article

# Jonathan Andrew responded on 11th June 2007 with...

Hi Simon,

I found your presentation most refreshing, I believe that there is far too much emphasis and pressure on the designer to achieve high-levels of semantically correct and accessible markup.

Clients are increasingly wanting quick turn around times, and the creative process IS hindered by time put a-side for CSS hacks to ensure a site is truly inter-operable

Perhaps this is something Dan Cederholm should have touched base on (instead of shifting on to microformats) in his presentation (Interface Design Juggling), finding the right balancing act between what is an acceptable and relevant level of accessibility versus unique and inspirational design.

Congratulations on your presentation, yourself, Drew, and a few others made the @media experience worth while.



# Andy Croll responded on 12th June 2007 with...

As I said Colly - I’d have gone further with the opponent-bashing… but it seems I’d have been chased out of the auditorium being hit on the arse with one of Drew’s signs.

I was surprised that the obvious humour was missed, but it’s different strokes for different folks.

Terrific to share many beers with you, see you next year - but hopefully before (it is ok to communicate with the outside world you know!)

# Low responded on 12th June 2007 with...

It’s been great meeting you and Jamie. Thank you and Drew for the laughs. Wish I had a transcript… :)

# Simon Collison responded on 13th June 2007 with...

Thanks for the kind comments everyone - either here or on your blogs - great to meet you all. Incidentally, I have of course thought of many more people I should have mentioned, but it’ll just get silly.

Oh, and note that I have added links to Joe Clark’s transcripts at the base of the article.

I should have also registered a “thank you” to Molly and to Joe, both of whom announced their retirement from the web accessibility conference “circuit”. I’ve certainly been inspired by both, and enjoyed their company too. Best of luck, folks…

# Tomasz Gorski responded on 13th June 2007 with...

Thank You for another very interesting post Simon now i can see it (thanks to flickr). btw. Congratulations on your presentation!

# Karen Stout responded on 15th June 2007 with...

As one of the female attendees who you gave a book to, I’d like to say that I think it was an excellent policy and one which should be universally adopted by all author types at next year’s conference.

Cheers for the Web Standards Creativity book - I’m off to sit down with a cuppa to read it this afternoon.

# Emily Heath responded on 16th June 2007 with...

I really enjoyed your presentation, and although I knew I shouldn’t, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly to some of the ‘why should we care [about standards]?’ points you were making - despite being a passionate web standards advocate.  Your point about how books and magazines etc don’t have to have resizable text is something I find myself grumbling over regularly! It was great to listen to someone else who is both designer and coder, and to feel solidarity over the frustrations this brings.
Regarding the humour being missed (as Andy Croll commented above), I think it just caught people off guard a little - I even observed Molly huffing and puffing on the sidelines as you spoke - but I’m sure she got it in the end, or perhaps she was joining in the act. 
Thanks for a great show, from one of the orange shirted attendees, or Oompa Loompa‘s as we became otherwise known.

# Rolid responded on 17th June 2007 with...

Thanks for very interesting article. I really enjoyed reading all of your articles. It’s interesting to read ideas, and

observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. Keep up the good work. Greetings

# Simon Collison responded on 18th June 2007 with...

Karen: My pleasure!  In fact, I have a shelf-load to shift, so I’d better concoct some sort of competition or summat.

Emily: Yeah, I caught Molly looking horrified a couple of times, but right at the end (after we delivered the moral of the story) she said she’d enjoyed it, and had a chat with me afterwards about it. Apparently she’d joined the presentation mid-way, which was a big fear, as folks who did that wouldn’t necessarily get the context.

All: Right, I finally have a week off so I’m gonna shut the laptop. Bye for now…

# veronika responded on 21st June 2007 with...

Hi Simon,

starting a heavy workday with sobbing, that i - once again - couldn’t attend the @media, i found my self reading your impressions. klicking through the sheets of your presentation i had to actually laugh quite hard at the number one design principal to design everything in flash.

you had me there - so i guess i’ll check in here more often.

# Laura Francis responded on 29th June 2007 with...

Hi Simon,

I thought you and Drew’s talk was great fun and I believe I took some good stuff away from it. What I found was that many themes were repeated over and over at the conference by different speakers, which really re-enforced the positive messages.

Its all a bit muddled in my mind now, who said what, but in the best possible way, and personally I found that I went right back home and have implemented many of the things I took on board right away.

Yay! We have already improved our designs and the process we use to get there!

If you are ever heading down towards Bristol perhaps you’d like to come and talk at the amazingly successful (as deemed by Andy Budd) Bristol SkillSwap.

But I am very dissapointed because I didn’t get a book, even though I am female ;)

Thanks again


# Chris the Scouser responded on 10th July 2007 with...

Hi Simon,

Chris the Scouser from Colchester… He he he, I like that. I fear my Scouse credentials may have lapsed as I moved from Liverpool just before I was 2, although most of my large family are still there. That, and I live in Chester. I was off to Colchester to visit friends for the weekend. However, after a great night with you guys I ended up not getting there until 2am. Whoops - sorry Charlotte.

I did respond a couple of days after you posted but I messed up, typing in the wrong “spam prevention” text and lost my message somehow. I was too disheartened for a re-do. Sounds like you’ve done a ton of things in the time it’s taken me to get back. Congratulations on the house. Looking at your Flickr stream, it seems firstly, you exaggerated the ferocity of your slugs and secondly, you did make it to the Star Wars exhibition. Any good?

Bye for now,