The Personal Disquiet of

Mark Boulton

Probably the last to talk about @media

– June 12th, 2005 –

Been rather busy since I got back from London - up to my eyeballs in Persona’s and Application flows… But here goes the very short review.

Simon and I headed up to London on Wednesday afternoon and checked into the hotel. It was a relaxing journey right to the hotel door before we headed out for a pint and some scran before crashing early for the somewhat early start the next morning.

So, there we were at 6.30 eating some breakfast before heading down to Waterloo for 8.00am to register. The venue wasn’t too difficult to find as there were so many others doing exactly the same thing (we bumped into one poor woman who came down from Skye and had just arrived!). Upon checking in we got the (still smelling of print) programme and a rather retching fetching orange bag emblazend with the @media logo.

I’m not going to go over the presentations but I’ll skip through some of my thoughts.

Zeldman was good, although I couldn’t hear him very well at the back (the conference as a whole had a bit of a problem with the sound).

Doug Bowman was good as always with both his presentations.

Joe Clark was superb. It’s a shame I didn’t get to meet him as I’ve got a few important questions to ask him - maybe I’ll just send him an email.

Robin Christopherson was very, very good. I think this was simply because he’s blind and it is always refreshing to see a screen reader user using the web.

Andy Budd’s, Jeremy’s and Ian’s presentations were also excellent.

One that really stood out for me was Andy Clarke’s presentation. I guess this was because I come from a very similar angle being a designer who happens to use web standards. What I mean by that is WS doesn’t define what I do with design and this brings me on to my summary of the whole conference.

The accessibility side of the conference was superb. A real eye opener to get some practical advice on how to design for better accessibility. Joe’s presentation, ‘Zoom the Web’ was very good and I’ll be implementing a zoomed layout here shortly. The Web Standards side of things was a little disappointing. Only because I felt, judging by the amount of raised hands at one point, there was a large degree of ‘preaching to the converted’. It was the wrong audience to talk about the virtues of Standards based design, and maybe this was reflected in a lot of the questions which were generally very in depth with regards to syntax etc.

Now don’t get me wrong, the more Web Standards is used by the community the better it is all round, but don’t you think we are close to approaching the point where it’s ‘just the way it’s done’? Then what are we going to be talking about? AJAX? Oh no, we’re doing that already.

Here’s my two penneth about where this is all heading:

I don’t think there will ever be a standard platform for the web, not really. It’s simply not possible for the industries big players to sort themselves out because they are big, slow moving er… (tries to think of an animal) cows (?) after feasting on grass for a week (what??). What I mean is, they can’t react quickly. But anyway, that’s a whole big mess that I’m not even going to get involved on.

We, as designers, are now emerging from a time when you needed to know php, mysql, flash, javascript etc. in order to make a living. I think we’re beginning to see a time of going back to core skills. Designer’s will begin to be employed for their design skills and hopefully this will rekindle the the craft of design again.

During the @media party Jon Hicks, Simon and myself were sharing a nostalgic moment about Omnicrom and the dark and distant past of print design. There’s something about print design which still really appeals. I think it’s about the craft, it’s about making something with your hands. I wonder in a few years time if we’ll be looking back on this period of our careers with the same amount of fondness.

Familiar faces

It was great to finally meet some people whose stuff I’ve been reading now for a couple of years, so a quick shout out to them. If I appeared a bit subdued after about 9pm at the party this was entirely due to an empty stomach, after 9pm I became entirely focussed on getting some grub!

And a few more people besides (particularly the Uni of Glamorgan lot). If we didn’t meet this time, maybe we will next.

Right, I’m off for some lunch!

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