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Be a Creative Sponge

I’m just back from @media Europe where I talked about the importance of maintaining design collections and how to use them, under the banner “How to be Creative Sponge”. Having only ever resided on panels before now, and with the exception of a 15 minute talk at Oxford Geek Night 2, it was my first ‘proper’ speaking engagement. I was concerned that what I had to say was too obvious, too common-sense, but feedback so far has been good, and I’m really appreciative of those that took time to tell me they got something from it.

As promised, here are the slides from the the talk, and all the URLs mentioned in the talk can be found via the sponge tag on my delicious account: http://del.icio.us/jonhicks/sponge.

As for the conference itself, I had a whale of time. I meet new, lovely, interesting people every time, and always come away with new ideas and motivations. In particular though, I absolutely loved being able to share it with Leigh, and I have her parents to thank for that.

My lasting image of the event will undoubtedly be Drew whipping up the crowd in chants of ‘There is no fold!’, aided by placards. Especially after receiving a Request for Proposal that week, containing the requirement “All information on the homepage must be visible above the fold”, I was tempted to take one of the placards and send it back with my proposal!

Good Design vs Great Design

Never Mind the Comic Sans It was a real honour to prepare and present the “Good Design vs Great Design” panel with Veerle and Cameron, and I don’t care if that sounds trite. It’s something I’d never have foreseen, except in some sort of cheese-fuelled dream. As promised, here are the slides from our presentations, along with the URLs I mentioned:

Download great_design_slides.zip

Cindy Li and Steve Marshall both have notes from the panel, and I intend to get the podcast transcribed when its available from VIvabit.

URLs mentioned in the presentations:

Also, someone in the audience asked about the problem of scaling up’ in the future. This post by Dave Hyatt of the Safari team was the link I mentioned in my reply – I hope its useful!


Anyone who knows me, knows that I really don’t feel I’m a ‘speaker’, but Patrick Griffiths is very good at doing sad puppy eyes and appealing to ego, so I agreed to be a part of the panel! I’m really glad he did, in fact I wished I could talk for longer. There was so much about typography that I wanted to talk about, and the wee 12 minute slot that we each had was only long enough to highlight a few elements. It seemed to go OK, there were a lot of encouraging comments afterwards, and I had a star-struck fan-boy moment when Jeffrey Veen came up to tell me he enjoyed the panel (apparently he likes the ‘g’ of Meta too!).

It boosted my confidence that I might have something to say that some people would find interesting, and who knows, I may just do it again sometime.

I was also asked back for the wrap-up session of @Media , The Hot Topics panel, with Tantek, Eric Meyer, Jeremy Keith and Molly. Jeremy revealed hidden talents in moderating the panel like the genial host. I always feel that SXSW could do with a final wrap-up section like this, to avoid that ‘fizzling out’ feeling. Again I was chuffed to be asked, and genuinely enjoyed every minute.

I enjoyed @media even more than last year, with a superb venue (only let down by the Wi-Fi), and a great spread of people. As always, time is too short to get to speak to everyone as much as I would’ve wanted, or see every presentation. Hats off to Vivabit for organising such an enjoyable event. Please get those podcats online so that I can catch up on the ones I missed!

Th@t w@s @media

(Are you finding the use of in posts about media annoying yet?!) Sorry to be late with this post, but this is the first chance I’ve had to write up something about the UK’s first web standards and accessibility conference.

I travelled down early on the Thursday morning with Denis (designer of the @media branding), and the first thing that struck me was how slick the operation was. Patrick had done a stellar job in organising all of this – I’d expected the first conference to be ‘testing the waters’ with a basic venue, but that wasn’t that case. It was a swish location in London’s south bank, with the 2 days being very slickly organised.

The presentations were excellent, and in particular Jeremy Keith’s ‘Using Javascript for Good (not Evil)’ floated my boat. Joe Clarke was as engaging and entertaining as ever, and it was a thrill to see Zeldman speak in London. Was everyone else as amazed as I was at Malarkey’s transformation from Mod to sharp dressed man?

If I had one complaint, it would be that there wasn’t enough time to talk. Breaks and lunches were carried out a breakneck speed (although maybe this helped to disprove the myth of Brits always taking breaks for tea?). The party on the Thursday needed to be in a large beer garden with food served, so that we could mingle and talk easier. Then again, I come from the shires, where every pub has a garden, and these big cities just ain’t got room for such niceties.

Sadly I had to leave fairly early on the Friday evening, and didn’t manage to find everyone I’d met to say goodbye. I met a lot of great people, but I won’t attempt a list, for fear of missing someone out. However, I would just like to say how great it was to finally meet Roger Johansson, Pete Lambert and Veerle Pieters (You see the problem? There was also Patrick Lauke, Mark Boulton…). We’re all a nice bunch aren’t we? Unfortunately, my photos were generally really poor, and my flickr set isn’t up to much.

Now then Malarkey, what’s all this about my ropey old socks appearing on ebay ?

@media is upon us

Hooray! @media is finally upon us! I’m really looking forward to meeting people that I’ve only had email conversations with, people I met at SXSW, and people I haven’t heard of yet. The speaker lineup and subject matter looks great, but apologies in advance if I fall asleep during a seminar. This may be only opportunity to catch up.

Come and say hi, I’m very approachable…