The World-Wide Work

I’ve been to a lot of events and I’ve seen a lot of talks. I find that, even after all this time, I always get something out of every presentation I see. Kudos to anyone who’s got the guts to get up on stage and share their thoughts.

But there are some talks that are genuinely special. When they come along, it’s a real privilege to be in the room. Wilson’s talk, When We Build was one of those moments. There are some others that weren’t recorded, but will always stay with me.

Earlier this year, I had the great honour of opening the New Adventures conference in Nottingham. I definitely felt a lot of pressure, and I did my utmost to set the scene for the day. The final talk of the day was delivered by my good friend Ethan. He took it to another level.

Like I said at the time:

Look, I could gush over how good Ethan’s talk was, or try to summarise it, but there’s really no point. I’ll just say that I felt the same sense of being present at something genuinely important that I felt when I was in the room for his original responsive web design talk at An Event Apart back in 2010. When the video is released, you really must watch it.

Well, the video has been released and you really must watch it. Don’t multitask. Don’t fast forward. Set aside some time and space, and then take it all in.

The subject matter, the narrative structure, the delivery, and the message come together in a unique way.

If, having watched the presentation, you want to dive deeper into any of Ethan’s references, check out the reading list that accompanies the talk.

I mentioned that I felt under pressure to deliver a good opener for New Adventures. I know that Ethan was really feeling the pressure too. He needn’t have worried. He delivered one of the best conference talks I’ve ever seen.

Thank you, Ethan.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

https://jeremycherfas.net

Finally, late this afternoon, I found time to watch the video of a talk by Ethan Marcotte that Jeremy Keith had recommended.

[Y]ou really must watch it. Don’t multitask. Don’t fast forward. Set aside some time and space, and then take it all in.

I did. Set aside the time, watched and only watched, at normal speed.

It was well worth it. A beautifully crafted talk, superbly presented, all one could wish for, thought-provoking and stimulating. And of course I could just leave it at that, an unalloyed “Like”.

Two things, however, call for more.

The first is that to even pretend that the sewing machine could end poverty is to buy into a very dubious proposition, on two counts. There will always be poor and not so poor, and even the UN’s poverty line is adjusted from time to time to reflect that despite rising tides and all that, some boats just remain lower in the water. More importantly, while the sewing machine may not have ended poverty globally, it has most definitely helped an awful lot of people improve their lot. Ethan showed pictures of white folks working in sweatshop conditions, possibly even in the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Yes, they were exploited. But they did have a job and an income. And then the factories were exported to poorer countries where the same machines and their successors gave the same sorts of people their first step out of absolute poverty. And the process goes on, the poor countries that once housed the sweatshops now affluent enough to buy the cheap clothing produced in the new sweatshop countries. I think the sewing machine did end poverty, for many people.

The second is a technical niggle, but an important one given what Ethan was saying about accessibility. My hearing isn’t 100%, or 20:20, or whatever perfect is when it comes to audio. I found the sound as it emerged from my monitors full of echo. Headphones were better, but it was still obvious that the left channel was a nice, close mic while the right was who knows where picking up almost exclusively reflections. Sure, I could have done a lot more tweaking and just duplicated the left channel, but Jeremy said not to get distracted, so I stuck with the headphones. None of this is the speaker’s fault, of course. But I do wonder, did anyone else have problems with the audio?

Now, of course, I need to find the time and space to work my way through the rest of the programme.

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

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# Shared by Simon Collison on Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 3:32pm

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