On Thursday and Friday of last week I attended the @media2007 Europe conference in London. I took a ridiculous amount of notes (using OmniOutliner which I am loving for taking meeting notes right now) but will try and condense those into a brief round-up of the sessions I attended.

There were many more highlights than lowlights for me during the two days. I felt that the quality of speakers was excellent and it was well pitched for the mixed crowd. It felt less crowded and busy than last year, one didn’t have to queue for ages to get food or coffee, and there were plenty of places to have a quiet chat with people between sessions. The biggest downside was the lack of wi-fi. I’m not going to have a big rant about it here but we are connected people, more so every year, the things we use and need are online. I can completely understand the issues surrounding providing internet access for so many people, however I can’t believe that in 2007 this isn’t a solved or solvable problem.

Day One

Drew and I missed the first session due to needing to drop the Small Person at school before heading into London, so my first session of the conference was Molly E. Holzschlag, “The Broken World: Solving the Browser Problem Once and For All”. I have to admit to never having seen Molly present before although I know Molly and so had an idea that she would be very good, and I wasn’t disappointed. The content of the session was really interesting, exploring the background to the various browsers we have available today, and helping to explain a bit about why fixing the problems we all have to battle with isn’t as simple as it might seem.

After listening to Molly I headed on over to the “High-Noon Shoot-Out” where Drew McLellan and Simon Collison went head to head discussing Design versus Implementation. This session was very tongue in cheek but raised the important point that standards, accessibility and beautiful design have to all work together to end up with the best product. It isn’t really a case of either/or. It was all great fun – Drew’s “there is no fold“ placards and timely display of the Olympics logo had the crowd laughing as did Colly’s evil Drew slide and pitching of The Fonz against Jakob Neilson.

After lunch I listened to Dan Cederholm talk on “Interface Design Juggling”, I’m not a designer but find it most useful at these conferences to hear designers talk about what they do. Most of my work involves working with designers to implement their ideas and so try to keep up to date and interested in web design in order that I can work with people and understand what they are trying to achieve.

Dan spoke about microformats, giving a brief introduction to the subject which seemed to encourage a mass exodus to the other room after his presentation as people went to listen to Tantek Çelik speak in depth on the subject. Tantek explained the most popular microformats available and what benefits there are in using them, I felt there was a huge amount of interest in the subject this year.

The final session of day one was Joe Clark, “When Web Accessibility is Not Your Problem”. As one expects from Joe Clark this was a slightly controversial take on things which web developers shouldn’t need to worry about. Joe will be publishing the talk on his own site but he also announced that the WCAG Samurai Errata has now been published along with two independent peer reviews.

Day Two

Day two started out with “How to be a Creative Sponge” by Jon Hicks. As mentioned I enjoy listening to designers speak, and I felt that this session was perfectly pitched for the really mixed crowd listening. Jon’s slides and presentation style were great and I’m quite keen to start collecting things myself for the odd time when I do need to make some attempt at design.

The second session saw Hannah Donovan of Last.fm and Simon Willison discuss two very different projects as examples of how they worked on these projects. Hannah talked about how Last.fm was developed, some of the mistakes that had been made and the things they felt worked well for their team. Simon talked about working on The Lawrence Journal-World websites.

I have to admit ducking out of the last session of the morning in order to deal with some emails and try and rid myself of the headache I seem to get from squinting at slides in the dark!

After lunch I really enjoyed Dan Webb‘s talk, he gave an informative introduction to Javascript but also raised several slightly more complex issues and problems without going into too much detail. Again, I felt this was pitched at a great level. One thing I took away from this presentation was hearing about the testing tool Selenium. I already use Firebug daily but hadn’t come across Selenium, and as we seem to be using more and more JavaScript I think it will be well worth learning how to use.

The Hot Topics Panel rounded off the two days with Jeremy Keith chairing a panel consisting of Joe Clark, Drew McLellan, Richard Ishida and Dan Cederholm and answering questions posed by the attendees.

On a personal level I really enjoyed meeting up with people who I have spoken to and worked with online for years but never met “in real life”. In particular it was very cool to meet my editor from Sitepoint – Simon Mackie – who I have worked with for years but never met due to Sitepoint’s far flung location and my hatred of air travel. It’s a long journey to Australia in a boat!

Many of the speakers have put their slides online and I have listed all those I have found here – if I have missed yours out leave a comment and I’ll link them up. My photos can be found on Flickr.

[tags]atmedia, atmedia2007, london, simoncollison, tantekcelik, joeclark, jonhicks, simonwillison, danwebb, dancederholm, drewmclellan, jeremykeith, andyclarke, hannahdonovan, mollyholzschlag[/tags]


Jeremy Keith June 11, 2007 Reply

Hi Rachel,

I’ve thrown a PDF copy of my slides online now too:

They don’t make sense without the context of the talk but you can add them to the list.

Simon Mackie July 10, 2007 Reply

It was great to finally meet you too, Rachel 🙂

I have to say that @media this year was fanatstic – the presentations were of a very high standard.

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