beyond tellerand 2012

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For the last few years I have been bemoaning the fact that I’ve been unable to attend a web conference due to time and especially money. These events have always been out of my reach, but this changed earlier this week when I attended beyond tellerand here in Düsseldorf. It was worth the wait.

Day one

The conference was spread out over two days and the first speaker was Dr. Nadine Chahine who gave us some fascinating facts on the mechanics of eye movement in reading and how different factors can affect reading. This was something that I guess most of us knew little about, but since we create things that are read on the web, it was very interesting indeed.

Next up was Mat Marquis who talked about responsive web design, techniques and methods, and specifically responsive images and the proposed picture element. Mat gave an entertaining and knowledgeable talk which was warmly received.

After a short break fellow HTML5 Doctor and all round loon Bruce Lawson took to the stage to regale us with stories of current web standards and what’s coming around the corner in terms of web development enhancements. He also gave us the immortal line of “CSS wants you to go to the pub.”

Following a long break for lunch, we returned to the marvellous Capitol Theatre to listen to Mark Boulton interview designer Mike Kus. The content was interesting enough, but personally I felt that the format of an informal chat didn’t really suit the conference as it lacks the structure and focus point that a talk provides. This had nothing to do with the participants and is just a personal opinion.

Geri Coady then explained colour theory to us which I found very interesting as we all see and use colour every day and yet I’ve never really formally learnt anything about the theory behind using it. Oh and her slides were simply beautiful to look at.

Legendary type designer Lucas De Groot spoke to use about readability per square centimetre which is a new term coined by himself, explaining how type can look on the web and in print and the various methods he uses to change them to make them more readable.

The Accidental Founder was the title of the talk given by Cameron Moll who explained how he “accidentally” ended up founding his company Authentic Jobs. Cameron also ended his talk on a humanitarian note with a short video showing how his company helps provide water to impoverished villages in Rwanda.

After grabbing a beer or two, “digital inventor” Brendan Dawes entertained us with his stories of how he tackled projects and completed them, even if in some cases it started with a “how on earth am I going to do this?”

Beer!

And so ended a highly entertaining and informative day of talks after which I was eagerly awaiting day two. I was also lucky enough to spend some time chatting to Bruce Lawson and later Remy Sharp (another HTML5 Doctor!), both of whom remarked that I look grumpier and fatter in my Twitter avatar picture than I do in real life. Charming.

Day two

The first two talks of the second day were similar in theme but had different content. Both Andre Jay Meissner and Remy Sharp spoke about development on mobile phones. Meissner’s talk started off with Tamagotchis (remember them?) and he urged us to test all our sites on at least 15 (15!) different phones! Remy spoke more about debugging on mobiles, how difficult it is and introduced some tools that can help us do this. Both were full of very interesting information, especially since I’ve recently been building my first ever hybrid application.

Next person on stage was Eva-Lotta Lamm who spoke to us about visual improvisation and using playfulness to create ideas. This was something that I would not know anything about, so I learnt a lot and Lamm’s presentation style was bouncy and energetic to watch.

The unknown (to me!) duo of Hellicar & Lewis then entertainingly told us about some of the very interesting interactive projects that they have been involved with. Very enjoyable.

Chris Shiftlett provided us with an interactive talk on how perception can be more powerful than reality. He showed us how we can be deceived into thinking we’ve have seen something when we have not, and vice versa, simply because of the way our minds work. Full of fascinating information.

After a short break Ben Bodien urged us to take on things that we’re scared or unsure of in order to learn and improve ourselves. This was an interesting talk which made me potentially rethink my decision to never become a speaker myself.

Mark Boulton returned to the stage to speak about one of the hot topics at the moment in responsive design and how we can tackle and think about it. He also spoke about the work that his company have done with CERN, which was fascinating to hear.

In the final talk of the day, and the conference, Andy Baio told us about how he became a record producer with Kickstarter when he decided to combine his love of jazz and the music from 8-bit games. He also spoke a bit about XOXO, a festival funded by Kickstarter which sold out in days and celebrated those who tried to do something different.

The end

I thoroughly enjoyed my first web conference and have now been bitten by the bug and can see why people clamour to attend such events. It’s also pleasing to hear that beyond tellerand 2013 will take place at the end of

As well as the talks, I also had a great time interacting with people. Not only did I have a good time with my co-workers (our development team went together – thanks to our employer pixolith) but I also met many of the people who I’ve conversed with over Twitter these last few years. In addition I met some new and interesting people, none more so than the fabulously named Rowdy Rabouw and the charming Charis Rooda, both of whom have almost convinced me to attend Fronteers next year!