Ben Ward

@Media 2005


I’m probably the last of the ~400 delegates to complete their ‘proper’ @media write up, but I shan’t be discouraged. I may, of course, sound like an old record.

The glorious ‘first time’

This was my first conference. I don’t have the money to afford such things and won’t have for a number of years. However, thanks to a stroke of luck, some jammy holiday planning and selfless generosity on the part of Steve Marshall I got a place. That’s Steve who still doesn’t have a blog to link to, by the way.

I only attended Friday, but it was splendid all the same. I met some wonderful people, learned a lot and became something of a DOM convert (like everyone else present at Jeremy Keith’s ‘Using JavaScript for good, not evil’).

‘Hang on, that’s Jon Hicks’ (and other stories)

As a student that shouldn’t really have been there, the itinerary worked like this:

  1. Learn as much as possible from presentations (because there won’t be another chance for years)

  2. Consume free coffee, tea and lunch

  3. Hunt out and hassle as many recognisable people as possible (not least because I was there on my own).

I’m delighted that I managed all three of those. It’s fantastic to meet, chat to and share beer with people you hold a great deal of respect for. I’m just going to reel off a list because it beats thinking of an original way of presenting this.

Huge thanks to Jon Hicks and Denis Radenkovic for keeping me company for most of the day (and the beer). Lovely people. Andy Clarke (who has been rightly praised all over the web these last few weeks), Andy Budd, Colly (far too brief a hello for the man whose blog I comment on most often), Roger Johansson (friendly guy), Paul Haine and Emma Sax (lovely to have met you both. I’ll be visiting London quite a lot over the next few years and will try and remember to shout ‘fancy a pint’ sometime soon).
The best bit was how inclusive everyone was. It’s a shining beacon of wonderment about this part of the web design community how bloody nice everyone is. It’s just as true in person as in blog comments.

For example, over lunch I agreed to steal Andy Budd’s site design. How more friendly can you get?

There’s more to that, of course. He has agreed to steal it back, on the condition that we repeat the process ad infinitum until we achieve design perfection. I regret to report that phase one (‘stealing’) has hit a hitch, though. I don’t think I’ve got the right font to change the text in the header image. As such there’ll be no movement on this revolutionary design process until I can change my name by deed poll to ‘Andy Budd’. Am I likely to get free stuff with that name?

Learn something

I do wish my university lectures were as enjoyable. Douglas Bowman was excellent and did a great reassurance job for me. I came out of his tour through the Blogger redesign thinking ‘Thank goodness for that, I am doing this right’.

Jeremy Keith was a revelation. I’ve had DOM related ideas in my head for a while (we have a decent sized JavaScript enhanced web application at work which is ripe for redevelopment) and Jeremy gave a fantastic overview on how to do it right. I think his master-stroke was showing DOM selectors (getElementById, getElementsByTagName) alongside the equivalent CSS selector. Talking to an audience of the CSS enlightened, you could see the light bulbs go off. It was such a simple comparison to make but it converted a room of 400 to the wonders of the behaviour layer.

Andy Clarke’s part-spontaneous presentation-come-rant was, I think, the perfect piece to end on. This is not a man who claims to be hugely techy; to him CSS and HTML are just tools. After a day of solid standards evangelism Andy offered a vital ‘come down to earth’ message. To paraphrase: ‘Are web standards, accessibility, and any other techy bollocks any more important to your client than a good design? Fuck no’. He was dynamic and entertaining throughout, but if I babble any more I’ll dilute that core message.

Spare any change�400?

I loved it this year. The knowledge that I wont be able to afford to go next year is a bit frustrating. If you’d like to sponsor me to go and enjoy myself for 2 days in 2006 I wont say no. Not really. Really. Nej. Ja. There are probably some more deserving people than me to give a free ticket too, really. Don’t worry, I’ll be all right (on the outside).

To all those who feel utterly gutted for not going this year, do go in 2006. It’s really, really worth it. Patrick Griffiths did an outstanding job in organisation and I’ve no doubt he’ll do the same again.

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