Over the past couple of months, I’ve been honored and excited to speak at five events in three continents. It was a lot of work and a lot of travel, but worth every bit. I’ve had the time of my life, met a ton of great people, and share and gained more knowledge than I ever could have imagined.
I’ve always been happy to post the slides I present at conferences, and the recent talks are no exception. However, besides regular hour-long conference talks, I’ve done some full-day workshops that attendees pay quite a lot more for, and I’m not as comfortable posting those. I hope you understand.
With that out of the way, here’s an overview of my recent speaking engagements:
Carsonified Workshop, London
In early September, I spent a few days in London (which remains my favorite city in the world to visit) giving an eight-hour workshop on Django to about 15 people. Having never spoken publicly about Django before, it was a bit nerve-wracking, but I’ve finally gotten over my “I’m a designer, not a programmer” thing and just accepted that now-a-days, I’m both. And while I’ll never be the world’s great Python programmer, I do believe I’m quite good at explaining the basics of Django to people who are new to it. The workshop went over quite well, I thought — the attendees I spoke to seemed pleased. I enjoyed doing it, and it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of. Carsonified does a great job with their events. I’ve been to a handful of their conferences and done two workshops for them, and they’re always top notch. If you’re looking for a community event to attend, you could do a lot, lot worse than a Carsonified joint.
Besides the workshop itself, I had a nice, relaxing few days in London. Usually when I travel I tend to have a lot of friends around, but on this trip I was alone almost the entire time — and you know what? It was great. It was a much-needed break from everything in possibly the greatest city in the world. Thank you so much for having me, Carsonified!
Web Directions South, Sydney
As I mentioned here before, Australia has been at the very top of my list of places to go since I was a child, so I couldn’t have been more excited to have been invited by John and Maxine to speak at Web Directions South 2008. Before the event, I gave the same full-day introduction to Django workshop I gave in London, and it again seemed to go pretty well. None of the attendees had ever used Django before, and most seemed impressed by it and reasonably interested in checking it out on a deeper level.
At the conference itself, I gave an updated version of the talk on web typography I’ve been working with for a while, now. If you’ve seen the slides from the original version, you’ll find a lot that’s familiar — but there’s a good bit that’s new, too. I got generally very good feedback on this talk from the attendees I spoke too, although I apparently raised the eyebrows of some accessibility-types by suggesting that perhaps its time to consider moving away from relative units for sizing type with CSS. A week later, Dave Shea (separatley) wondered the same thing on his blog, taking the discussion worldwide. There’s good arguments to be made on both sides, and I think the decision probably has to be made on a case-by-case basis right now. However, one thing is clear: in the relatively near future, the need to use relative units in order to facilitate text resizing in all browsers is going to go away, making absolute units relevant again.
The slides from Elegant Web Typography:
Beyond the conference, I had a fabulous time in Sydney (which now ranks as the world city I’d most like to live in), packing in a ton of touristy activities — from bridge climbing to whale watching to Opera House photographing to beach carousing — and a good bit of partying, dining, and drinking with a ton of great friends, including my fiancé Michelle. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was a fabulous trip and I can’t wait to go back to Australia again.
The Web Directions crew is also amongst the very best in the industry at putting together events. I’d highly recommend anything with the words “Web” and “Directions” in front of it. And if you head to Web Directions North in Denver next February, I’ll probably see you there. ;)
Webmaster Jam Session, Atlanta
J Cornelius and the kick-ass CoffeeCup team invited me back for Webmaster Jam Session again this year. The event, which was in Dallas last year, has moved to Atlanta, which was quite a welcome change, if you ask me (sorry, Big D). I have to say: I love this conference. Besides being the most fun I’ve had at a web event two years running, it’s full of really great content packaged in a much more free-form, laid-back, everyone’s-approachable sort of way. The name “Jam Session” is completely appropriate, because it really is a situation where anyone can jump in and be heard. I love it.
The bulk of my pre-conference work for this event was decided to a premium session I presented with my friend and co-worker D. Keith Robinson. It was a two-day, five hour marathon of a session in which we tried to really give a sense of the entire workflow and process we use at Blue Flavor, from planning and strategy to IA and UI design, to visual design, to both front-end and back-end development. It seemed to go over extremely well, as I heard several people say it was their favorite session of the conference. In typical Jam Session fashion, though, I participated in three other panels, critiquing web sites and talking about social media. The slides from each day of the session Keith and I gave follow:
One of the things I really love about this conference is the audience. For whatever reason, this events tends to attract folks who aren’t the blog-reading, standards-loving, web-design-is-my-lifestyle-not-my-job types you tend to find at SXSW, Web Directions, and Future of Whatever. I’m generalizing — there were definitely a handful of really clued-in folks there, as well. Of course, that clued-in crowd is full of my friends, and I love them, but there’s something really, really great about talking to an audience that is at a level which affords them more opportunity to learn. They tend to be more appreciative of all the work that goes into these talks, whereas the hater standardista crowd won’t hesitate to pick you apart and slam you on Twitter for one slide they didn’t approve of. I think we often forget that probably 90% of professional web designers and developers out there aren’t like us. They’re nine-to-fivers working at universities, in health care institutions, at banks, and so forth. These are the people that I’m really excited about talking to, and both years I’ve done it, Webmaster Jam Session has definitely afforded me that opportunity.
Finally, and I’ll keep this short: no conference — not event SXSW — parties like Webmaster Jam Session parties. Couldn’t have had a better time with all my friends and so many great new friends I met there!
Web Design and Developer Conference, Orlando
In mid-October, I headed down to the Sunshine State for a unimaginatively-named conference put on by Mogo Media. I once again gave a (slightly-shorted) version of the Elegant Web Typography talk seen above, and also presented a drastically simplified, hour-long, presentational version of the Introduction To Django workshop. Again, I felt like both went over well — I got a lot of really good feedback from attendees. I won’t post the slides from the Orlando typography talk, as they’re virtually identical to those above, but here are the slides for the Django session:
This conference also had a slightly unusual-to-me audience. It seemed to include a lot of print designers making the transition to web. Again, it was exciting to talk to a group who, by and large, were hearing things they’d never heard before and were really able to get a lot out of it.
As I knew almost no one there, I ended up paling around mostly with a really great chick, name of Kelli, who I’d met briefly in Atlanta the week before. This conference may not have been full of great parties and mixers, but I managed to make a great new friend anyway, so that’s pretty kick-ass.
Just a brief closing word to say a sincere thank you to everyone involved in these events: the organizers who were kind enough to have me, the attendees who came to the sessions, the great friends I see all over the world as I do these events, and all the new friends I made along the way. It’s really been a great couple of months, and I can’t wait until the next conference season gets going so I can get on the road again.
If you’re looking for someone to talk at your event, I’m always available. Get in touch!