DIBI Conference - My thoughts...
Original blog taken from http://www.adshill.com
Having had the bank holiday weekend swamped with travel and a looming deadline, I've finally got a chance to make a short write up of my experience at DIBI (Design it, Build it) a two track conference for web developers and designers that I attended last week at the Sage Gateshead.
Venues and HospitalityThe pre-conference party was great. While I am no fan of the Pitcher and Piano, its high prices, often pretentious visitors and a thorn I have from an episode years ago, it is understandable why the organisers chose it. Great views of a beautiful part of our city, good company, free drinks and the whole of upstairs reserved for the designers and geeks arriving from all over the country really made it an interesting and worthwhile night. I was shocked to discover that over half of the people arriving for the conference were coming from outside of the region - a testament to the promotion done by the organisers and a great advert for the North East as the hive of creativity it is.
For the conference itself, there isn't really many better venues in Newcastle (or Gateshead of course!) than the Sage. While traditionally a music venue, Hall 2 and the Northern Rock Hall lent themselves very well to the 350 delegates. I can't comment on the food as a last minute dash home for my laptop prevented me getting any, although I heard the burgers went down well! Plenty of coffee, Haribo, Muffins and the wonderful touch of Red Bull in the afternoon break were highly appreciated and instead of the bag full of sponsorship crap you're usually landed with at these things, we simply got our badge, programme and a Field Notes book - nice, simple and useful.
SpeakersNot really being specifically a designer or a developer, and somewhat out of the loop, I wasn't massively familiar with many of the speakers, however now I will be. All of the presentations were relatively short, followed by Q&A from Twitter and the audience - a format I enjoyed as it prevented anything feeling boring or drawn out.
After introductions, Jon Mcloone from Wolfram Alpha spoke to everyone about this amazing web-based tool that has been built on decades of computing experience. While appearing like a search system, the Wolfram site, (and iPhone App which I swiftly downloaded during the presentation) doesn't so much give you links to content on the web, but pulls web content, and expert content to supply you with answers to your questions. I was amazed at some of the things that Wolfram could do and will certainly be playing with this more.
For the first of the two-track sessions I was with Elliot Kember, getting a rampant tour through some of the gems available in jQuery - Elliot had a very energetic way of presenting and gave us a load of useful tips - esspecially for the jQuery novice like myself.
Next up was Sarah Parmenter of You Know Who - Sarah gave a really concise look at iPhone development and really managed to capture the essentials in 20 minutes. Checking out her site(s) I'm highly impressed by her work and am expecting more great things from her in the future.
Tim Van Damme went so quickly through his presentation that infact most of his time was Q&A, but actually I think it worked out for the best as he gave some "Ass kicking" to us all and I couldn't help but be inspired by his mentality.
Dan Rubin's account of usability was useful and made me think about the usability we'd done in the past and how maybe there were much better ways of doing things!
Simon Collison really made me think with his insight into more design theory, stepping out of the website thematic and stripping things down to the bare essentials. Since I never studied design I found this stuff facinating, if not a little overwhelming at times.
The final speaker of the day was Andy Clarke. A bit of a legend. Author, pioneer and damn talented designer, Andy gave a presentation like few others I have seen on the web, or infact technology in general terms. He made it interesting, informative and inspiring as well as making me laugh out loud on many occasions.
Overall, all the speakers created a melting pot of information, inspiration and enjoyment that well exceeded the relatively moderate entry price. Thoroughly well chosen by the organising team.
OverallThis was one of the most smoothly and professionally organised conferences I'd been to. All of the staff had time to chat, without coming across stressed or over-worked, the speakers were approachable and most of them stuck around for the after party. The attendees were a real mixed bag, which I liked immensly and the best thing? Well... in honesty, I have to say value for money. While conferences with this kind of line-up in london cost £250 - £300 per day, DIBI was a mere £150, making it ultimately worthwhile and a bargain at that. No expense appeared to be spared so it wasn't like there was cost-cutting going on, simply a fair price for a fantastic day. What's more, those attending the conference got a discount off next years event, meaning the following day I bought my ticket for DIBI 2011 for just £75. Amazing.
To the organisers I have to give a massive congratulations for doing something fantastic for the web community both in our region but also across the country. I'm already looking forward to next year.