I thought I would write a quick rundown of my first Barcamp experience from the perspective of the non Developer or Designer in the room.
I tried to hop around the talks to a variety of topics some of direct interest to my role in Marker and some quite new or challenging. First talk of the day was given by Peter McLennan. He was talking about his passion for designing and collecting Vinyl covers. This was a great way to ease myself into the day as within my comfort zone of anything designy or arty and I found the way he chose to group designs interesting some by designers, some by labels, some by genres and so on as each grouping showed ways that trends occurred and a hidden label language was created.
Next up was by the young name behind the event Ludwig Wendzich (I figured it would be plain rude not to see the founder speak atleast once). He talked about the way you can rethink the UI experience of sites for topics like magazines using the new movement recognising technology. How using this natural motion that is directly connected to what is seen on screen is more instinctual than the third party use of a keyboard or mouse driven command. I especially liked the idea of this type of technique making the web more accessible for the really young or old, eradicating the old analogy of the remote control being too fiddly/small/complicated debate.
Adbreak here, I have to say the food alone is reason to come as we had everything from healthy fruit to scones with cream and jam, carrot cake, M&Ms and brownies to lasagna and salad. I have to say the best spread at a conference I have ever eaten – beats the bain-marie slop often had at the hotel based ones. The t-shirts were also a great design and very wearable once you upped your size x 2 as the fit was extremely small for the ladies.
Then I enjoyed some healthy debate about the future of Digital TV in NZ with Steven Ellis at the helm.
Usability was next on the cards from a one month kiwi Haunani Pao (A new inductee from San Fran) whose breakdown on what and why we have this thing called usability provided me with lots of great ways to help sell the benefits to clients. Particularly liked her picture representation of why with the beautiful red jug that although on the surface looked great due to the spout and handle being on the same side was rendered useless.
Then hands down my favourite discussion of the day from Mike Dickison who presented from his academic point of view what the roadblocks to getting Wikipedia into mainstream use in Universities were and his ideas on ways to rid them. I loved his suggestion of replacing or supplementing the essay form of testing to making the students actually publish their research as a wiki page and leave it open for public debate as opposed to the one person critique of the lecturer. I also appreciated his emphasizing the need for a mind-shift from research only to more focus on critique of the said research sources.
Then we landed in the world of Science Fiction for an analysis of leadership in today’s working environments. Corporate being similar to Star Trek, Independent to Doctor Who and Start-up to Firefly. It was a fabulous way to make concepts which are sometimes quite abstract really tangible. Can’t wait to read the book once its out.
My last talk for the day was by my colleague Darren Wood who I love to hear speak as his passion for his craft is always so evident in his presentations and the reduction of code and new way of adopting the flexibility of new working styles in HTML5 was really interesting I appreciated the fact that even at code level they had recognised the need for people to show their individual flair. He was partnered by Matthew Buchanan who I am also a bit of a fan of via his blog as he has a knack for hunting out great design on the web. His brief demo on the possibilities for rendering what was once image based only solutions now being done with CSS was simultaneously exciting and scary as can see the ever faster shift to the blurring of art and science and wonder when the science will become too hard for the artist to use and as such render them handicapped and the world of the web into many an un-designy hand. I am a fan of the pretty picture after all.
Overall I was really impressed by the entire day and will be back if I can secure a spot next year.