Brighton daze

It’s been quite a few days here in Brighton. dConstruct passed by in something of a haze. I was so busy running around trying to make sure everything went smoothly that I didn’t pay all that much attention to the presentations. I should have just relaxed and enjoyed myself; everything went fine. But of course, anything could have gone wrong at any moment and that’s what kept me wound up.

I didn’t have a speaking slot this year so I had nothing to worry about. But I did introduce some of the speakers and I found that almost as stressful. I’ve come to the realisation that the amount of speaking time doesn’t matter that much; it’s the situation of standing on stage in front of an audience of peers that’s scary.

Of all the stages to stand upon, the Brighton Dome has got to be one of the best. It really is quite an amazing venue.

The day went off with nary a hitch and most people seemed to enjoy themselves. Some of the presentations divided opinion. The same talks that underwhelmed some people had others enraptured. I kind of like that. We tried to put together a mixed bag and I’d rather that a talk was loved or hated rather than being judged just average.

As I said, I didn’t have much chance to pay attention to the presentations though I made a point of catching Denise and George chatting on the sofa. I loved it. It was the perfect format for the middle of the day and the content was fascinating. I can understand if it wasn’t everyone’s bag (if your big company has sent you to a conference with an order to “go learn stuff” then you’d be sorely disappointed) but I thought it was wonderfully relaxed and entertaining. Or maybe I just enjoyed the F-bombs and C-grenades.

Cameron was as smooth, dependable and awesome as always. Tom excelled himself. Heck, all the speakers were on top form. Matt is giving himself a hard time but just check out his presentation: it’s a beautiful study in apophenia.

Once the conference was done (and the after party… and the after-after party) it was time for BarCamp Brighton. I got a little sidetracked by the Brighton Food and Drink Festival on the way but when I showed up I found the BarCamp spirit in full swing.

The venue was great, the food was superb and the presentations were fantastic. The plan was to just have ethernet internet access but Dave worked some of his Pier to Pier magic to provide rock-solid WiFi. In short, the whole thing was wonderful. Matthew talked about Cornish politics, John told us how to make the perfect cup of tea, Mikel showed off the OpenStreetMap data for Brighton, Paul taught a magic trick and I talked with Tantek about portable social networks.

I missed the talk by Jon Linklater-Johnson but I caught with him afterwards to see his CSS specificity cards. He made a memory game out of matching the specificity of selectors. How cool is that?

Hats off to Glenn and the whole Madgex for a job well done. I was feeling pretty exhausted after dConstruct but BarCamp completely revitalised me. And yes, there was Werewolf a-plenty (I’ll never believe Natalie again).

With the out-of-towners coming to dConstruct and BarCamp, I wanted to make sure that everyone enjoyed their time in Brighton. I think everyone did. The weather was great, there was lots to do and there was a great buzz in the air.

I’m lucky enough to get to travel to quite a few geek gatherings in far-flung places. I really enjoy that. But for the past few days, Brighton has been the epicentre of geekdom. Welcoming my peers to my adopted hometown is a particular thrill. Brighton—if you’ll forgive the cliché—rocks.

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Previously on this day

15 years ago I wrote It's a funny old sci-fi world

The plan to have stunt pilots in helicopters catch a returning satellite didn’t work.

17 years ago I wrote Mexican singer loses fingers in helicopter accident

Mexican popstar helicopter accident:

17 years ago I wrote Road trips for the wilfully ignorant

You may remember when I told you about the road trip I took in Arizona, I mentioned going to the wonderful Meteor Crater.