Archive: October 19th, 2005

Back from Brussels

I spent the weekend in Brussels attending the Euro IA summit… well, kind of.

Jessica and I took the Eurostar over on Friday afternoon. That was fast, convenient and far preferable to flying. We were whisked away from the centre of London to our stylish and atmospheric hotel in the heart of Europe in just a couple of hours. We spent the first evening sampling fine Belgian cuisine.

Next morning, we went along to the conference. Now, I don’t call myself an information architect but I firmly believe that it’s an integral part of building websites, whether you’re a front-end designer or a back-end programmer. For Jessica, who deals with multi-lingual websites on a day-to-day basis, the conference also had some appealing items on the agenda.

The opening remarks by Andrew Dillon were thought-provoking. After that, the speakers got down to the nitty-gritty. Unfortunately, nothing really engaged me all that much.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by @media and South by SouthWest, but I wanted to experience presentations that would knock my socks off. Instead, I got some competently delivered powerpoint slides (it was strange being at a conference where no-one used S5). Don’t get me wrong: there was some interesting stuff; the state of IA in Norway, a comparison of Italian and British governmental websites. But as the presentations went on, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing out on a beautiful day in Brussels.

When the day’s official events ended, it felt a bit like getting out of school. Saturday evening was spent exploring the restaurants and bars of Brussels, sampling more food and of course, the famous Belgian beer.

By Sunday morning, the charm of Brussels had won me over. I skipped the conference hall in favour of the cafes and museums. I have to admit, I really wanted to see Thomas Vander Wal but on the day, he just couldn’t compete with Breughel.

Jessica and I rounded off our day of truancy by meeting up with the finest web designers in Belgium. Veerle and Geert drove to Brussels to meet us for drinks and, yes, yet another fine meal out.

I knew when I was booking my place at the Euro IA summit that it might not be entirely my cup of tea, but it was very reasonably priced and I did have some enjoyable lunchtime conversations [the quote of the day on usability: “People are stinking barrels of emotion”]. But the weekend itself was a wonderful experience.

Beer and Breughel, moules and frites… these are a few of the cliches in my photos of Brussels.