Back from @media

@media 2006 is over. All in all, it was a great event.

As Ben noted, there wasn’t much blogging going on during the conference itself. That was partly due to the crappy WiFi situation — provided in theory, but not really in practice — but also there was just so much going on that there wasn’t much time for blogging. As well as the twin tracks of the event itself, there was a whole lot of socialising going on in the evening. Having a pint and a chat takes precedence over a blog post for me. Besides, the hotel I was staying at, though lovely in every other respect, didn’t have free WiFi. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the swankiness of a hotel and the connectivity options available.

Apart from the network issues, the conference itself was pretty slick and professional. Most importantly, the subject matter was engaging and well presented.

Eric kicked off with a great trip down memory lane in his Thursday morning keynote. After that, the room was divided in two and the schedule was forked. I had to forego the design panel with Jon, Veerle and Cameron because I was speaking at the same time on Using DOM Scripting to Plug the Holes in CSS.

The slides from my presentation are now online. The presentation itself went pretty well. I got a lot of positive feedback from people afterwards but I didn’t feel I was knockin’ ‘em dead. I think I nailed it at last year’s @media so it was always going to be a tough act to follow. Still, I did have fun getting the crowd to identify Buck Owens, explain the Kobayashi Maru scenario and recite Jabberwocky.

I stuck around for Dave’s talk on Typography on the Web which I thoroughly enjoyed. During the Q&A, he was getting grilled with lots of specific questions about sIFR that made me want to ask a nice straightforward question like, “What’s your favourite typeface?”

After lunch, the accessibility panel discussed the merits and shortcomings of WCAG 2.0. There was a Joe-shaped void that dominated proceedings — his presence loomed large.

Jeffrey Veen finished off the day in typically superb style. He remains one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen. Once Jeff had finished speaking, the very first question from the audience was, “Where do we go to watch the match?”

Through the power of planning ahead, Patrick was able to avert a riot and provide a venue for all the @media attendees to watch some men kick a ball around a field. Jessica and I took advantage of the fact that the whole country was glued to the gogglebox and got a table at one of our favourite restaurants in Soho.

The high quality of presentations was maintained on day two. Dan got the day off to a great start when he walked us through some tips and tricks for Bulletproof Web Design.

The panel on JavaScript Libraries: Friend or Foe? was tremendously entertaining. I’m not just saying that because I have a soft spot for JavaScript. The panel was superbly moderated by Cameron and featured larger than life characters like ppk, Stuart, Simon and Dan.

The other Cameron turned out to be a very smooth talker indeed. I missed his presentation on Mobile Web Design at SXSW so I was very glad to be given a second chance to catch it. It was slick. While I admired Cameron A’s audacious use of Cooper Black for his slides, Cameron M’s slides featured the nicest use of Trajan I’ve ever seen.

For the afternoon, I listened to Nate give a behind-the-curtains look at three different projects from Yahoo Exclamation Mark: the Yahoo Exclamation Mark homepage, Yahoo Exclamation Mark Photos, and the new Yahoo Exclamation Mark Mail. The hands-on approach was continued with Tantek’s presentation on microformats.

As the day progressed, attendees were encouraged to fill out little cards with questions for a mysterious closing panel on Hot Topics. Sounds like my kind of panel. During one of the breaks, I asked Patrick if I could join in. It turns out he was going to ask me anyway. In fact, he asked if I’d like to moderate.

Would I like to moderate a panel? Of course I would! I’m a power-hungry dictator at heart. Panel moderators are the Dungeon Masters of tech conferences.

It turned out to be more fun than should be legally allowed. It was a dream panel of Molly, Jon, Eric and Tantek covering a nice range of high-temperature topics. I had a ball and, from the feedback I got later, a lot of the audience really enjoyed it too. I think it wrapped up the conference nicely.

Even though the official event was over, there was still time for eating, drinking and socialising with my fellow geeks. Thanks to Andy’s organisational efforts, we commandeered a pizza express before steamrolling onto one of the bars officially nominated for the evening’s carousing.

By Saturday morning, people were beginning to disperse. There was still time to hang out in St. James Park and watch the colour being trooped before heading off to the @media social on the other side of town.

After an afternoon in the pub immersed in geekery, I figured it was time to hit the road. I said some goodbyes (but, as usual, there were far more people I didn’t get to bid farewell to) and I caught a train back down to Brighton.

I had fun. I took pictures. Other people took pictures. I think they had fun too.

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