Tags: 2013



dConstruct 2013 videos

All the videos from last year’s dConstruct have been posted on Vimeo (with a backup on the Internet Archive). If you were there, you can re-live the fun all over again. And if you weren’t there, you can see just what you missed:

  1. Amber Case
  2. Luke Wroblewski
  3. Nicole Sullivan
  4. Simone Rebaudengo
  5. Sarah Angliss
  6. Keren Elazari
  7. Maciej Cegłowski
  8. Dan Williams
  9. Adam Buxton

Don’t forget the audio is also available for your listening pleasure. Slap the RSS feed into the podcasting application of your choosing.

Revisiting the brilliance of last year’s dConstruct should get you in the mood for this year’s event. Put the date in your calendar: Friday, September 5th. Last year was all about Communicating With Machines. This year will be all about Living With The Network.

More details will be unveiled soon (he said, hoping to cultivate a feeling of mystery and invoke a sense of anticipation).

New year

At the start of 2013, I wrote:

Let’s see what this year brings.

Well, it brought much the same as the year before. Here’s what I wrote about 2012:

Nothing particularly earth-shattering happened, and that’s just fine with me. I made some websites. I did some travelling. It was grand.

That’s also true of 2013.

The travelling was particularly nice. Work—specifically conference speaking—brought me to some beautiful locations: Porto, Dubrovnik, and Nürnberg to name just three. And not all of my travelling was work-related. Jessica and I went to the wonderful San Sebastián to celebrate her fortieth birthday. “I’ll take to you to any restaurant in the world for your birthday”, I said. She chose Etxebarri. Good choice.

Conference-speaking took me back to some old favourites too: Freiburg, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Amsterdam. I’m very lucky (and privileged) to have the opportunity to travel to interesting places, meet my peers, and get up on a stage to geek out to a captive audience. I enjoy the public speaking anyway, but it’s always an extra bonus when it takes me to a nice location. In fact, between you and me, that’s often the biggest criterion for me when it comes to speaking at an event …so if you want me to speak at an event you’re organising in some exotic location, give me a shout.

Mind you, two of my event highlights in 2013 didn’t involve any travelling at all: Responsive Day Out at the start of March, and dConstruct at the start of September, both of them right here in Brighton. I’m really, really pleased with how both of those events turned out. Everyone had a splendid time. I’m already starting to plan the next dConstruct: put Friday, September 5th 2014 in your calendar now. And who knows? …maybe there’ll even be a reprise of the Responsive Day Out in 2014.

Other highlights of the year include travelling to CERN for the line-mode browser dev days, and the inspiring Science Hack Day in San Francisco.

It was a big year for Clearleft. We moved into our lovely new building and hired quite a few new lovely people. So much change in such a short period of time was quite nerve-wracking, to be honest, but it’s all turning out just fine (touch wood).

Last year, I wrote:

I’m going to continue hacking away on Huffduffer and The Session whenever I can in 2013. I find those personal projects immensely rewarding.

Both projects continue to be immensely rewarding, although I probably neglected Huffduffer a bit; I definitely spent more time working on The Session. In 2014 I should really devote more time to adactio.com, because I also said:

I’m also hoping to have time to do some more writing.

I suppose I did a fair amount of wordsmithing here in my journal but perhaps in 2014 I might get my teeth stuck into something more bookish again. We’ll see.

So, all in all, a perfectly fine year for me personally and professionally. Like I said, it was grand.

Looking beyond my own personal sphere, 2013 was far from grand. The worst fears of even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist turned out to be nothing compared to what we found out about GCHQ and the NSA. It would be very easy to become despondent and fatalistic about the dystopian cyberpunk reality that we found ourselves living in.

Or we can look on the bright side, like Bruce Schneier, Glenn Greenwald, and Aral are doing. Schneier points out that the crypto works (it was routed around), Greenwald points to the Pinkerian positive overall trend in human history, and Aral reminds us that we have the power to build the kind of technologies we want to see in the world.

Whatever your reaction—despair, hope, or everything in between—we all owe Edward Snowden an enormous debt for his actions. I’m not sure that I would have had his courage were I in his situation. The year—perhaps the decade—belongs to Edward Snowden.

That was my jam

Those lovely people at the jam factory have reprised their Jam Odyssey for 2013—this time it’s an underwater dive …through jam.

Looking back through my jams, I thought that they made for nice little snapshots of the year.

  1. : Meat Abstract by Therapy? …because apparently I had a dream about Therapy?
  2. : Jubilee Street by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds …because I had just been to the gig/rehearsal that Jessica earned us tickets to. That evening was definitely a musical highlight of the year.
  3. : Atlanta Lie Low by Robert Forster …because I was in Atlanta for An Event Apart.
  4. : Larsen B by British Sea Power …because I had just seen them play a gig (on their Brighton home turf) and this was the song they left us with.
  5. : Tramp The Dirt Down by Elvis Costello …because it was either this or Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead! (or maybe Margaret In A Guillotine). I had previously “jammed” it in August 2012, saying “Elvis Costello (Davy Spillane, Donal Lunny, and Steve Wickham) in 1989. Still waiting.”
  6. : It’s A Shame About Ray by The Lemonheads …because Ray Harryhausen died.
  7. : Summertime In England by Van Morrison …because it was a glorious Summer’s day and this was playing on the stereo in the coffee shop I popped into for my morning flat white.
  8. : Spaceteam by 100 Robots …because Jim borrowed my space helmet for the video.
  9. : Higgs Boson Blues by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds …because this was stuck in my head the whole time I was at hacking at CERN (most definitely a highlight of 2013).
  10. : Hey, Manhattan by Prefab Sprout …because I was in New York.
  11. : Pulsar by Vangelis …because I was writing about Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
  12. : Romeo Had Juliette by Lou Reed …because Lou Reed died, and also: this song is pure poetry.

I like This Is My Jam. On the one hand, it’s a low-maintenance little snippet of what’s happening right now. On the other hand, it makes for a lovely collage over time.

Or, as Matt put it back in 2010:

We’ve all been so distracted by The Now that we’ve hardly noticed the beautiful comet tails of personal history trailing in our wake.

Without deliberate planning, we have created amazing new tools for remembering. The real-time web might just be the most elaborate and widely-adopted architecture for self-archival ever created.

Listen to dConstruct 2013

If you didn’t make it to this year’s dConstruct, at least your ears can catch up. If you did make it to this year’s dConstruct, your ears can experience the fun all over again.

The audio is available, is what I’m saying here.

  1. Amber Case: Ambient Location and the Future of the Interface
  2. Luke Wroblewski: Infinite Inputs
  3. Nicole Sullivan: Don’t Feed the Trolls
  4. Simone Rebaudengo: Great; things are connected, but what will they actually talk about?
  5. Sarah Angliss: Tech and the Uncanny
  6. Keren Elazari: The Heroes and Anti-heroes of the Information Age
  7. Maciej Cegłowski: Fan is a Tool-Using Animal
  8. Dan Williams: Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area
  9. Adam Buxton: Is My Laptop Ruining My Life?

The audio is on Huffduffer for your listening pleasure. If you’d like to take it with you on the go, here’s the RSS feed—just pop that into your podcasting/catching software of choice.

While you’re at it, this might be a nice opportunity to go back and explore the dConstruct archive where you can find every talk from every dConstruct from 2005 to 2013. That’s 70 talks, or about 46 hours of listening pleasure.

Share and enjoy!

dConstruct music

If you were at dConstruct last week (lucky you!), you will have heard this music during the breaks. All of these tracks are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

Yes, that last one is from my band—a little bit of audio nepotism.

dConstruct 2013

dConstruct 2013 …wow! I could try to describe it but you kind of had to be there.

At the after-party—which was held right there in the Brighton Dome; a new twist which worked out great—I kept hearing people enthuse that it was the best dConstruct yet (although dConstruct 2012 was pretty bloody amazing). People congratulated and thanked me, which made me feel like a bit of a fraud because, frankly, I was very selfish in my curation: I got the speakers I wanted to see, talking about the topics that I wanted to hear.

I’ll admit that it was very gratifying to find out that trusting my gut worked. Let’s face it, it wasn’t exactly a safe or typical line-up for a tech conference. I’m feeling vindicated (and very relieved) that the risks paid off. And how!

Every single speaker was amazing. Seriously, I’m trying to think of how I can thank each of them, but I keep coming up short. Words alone can’t express how grateful I am to all of them. Each of them put in so, so much effort …I was truly gobsmacked.

The cumulative effect was astounding. There were emergent themes and strands that were woven throughout the day, resulting in the perfect balance. The two over-riding feelings were fear and fun. The audience were, by turns, terrified and entertained.

The topic of “Communicating With Machines” resonated wonderfully with other Brighton Digital Festival events too: dConstruct, Improving Reality, and Immaterials felt like they were all tackling the tricky task of making the invisible visible—networks, power structures, technologies—but the dConstruct speakers did it with bucketloads of entertainment value thrown in. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much at an all-day event.

Mind you, it didn’t feel like a long day. The time just flew by! I thought it was just me but then lots of other people said the same thing at the after-party. That’s quite something when nine talks just whizz by without a single dip in quality.

Seriously, I am blown away by the generosity and talent of the speakers.

Amber, Luke, Nicole, Simone, Sarah, Keren, Maciej, Dan, and Adam: thank you so, so much!

Video and audio from dConstruct 2013 will be available soon …but you kind of had to be there. And if you were there …thank you!

Counting down to dConstruct 2013

It’s dConstruct week—just a few more sleeps to go! The speakers are starting to arrive into town, the conference badges have been delivered, and the epic task of applying hundreds of stickers to hundreds of badges has begun.


The Brighton Digital Festival is already in full swing. Reasons To Be Creative kicked off yesterday so the town is already full of geeks hanging out, drinking coffee, listening to talks and discussing them afterwards over a beer, and generally having a good time—exactly the kind of Brighton behaviour that curmudgeons like Andy and Colly love to hate.

The Immaterials exhibit headed up by Timo is opening at Lighthouse tomorrow. I’ve been walking past in the mornings coming into work and it’s looking fantastic. Although it did lead to a moment of cognitive synaesthesia:

Meanwhile over at 68 Middle Street—soon to be Clearleft’s new home—an exhibition of The New Sublime is already underway.

There’s so much going on this week: Reasons To Be Creative from Monday to Wednesday, Improving Reality on Thursday, Maker Faire and Indie Web Camp on the weekend, and, of course, dConstruct on Friday.

I’m so excited about this year’s event! It’s definitely not your typical web conference and it’s certainly not your typical conference line-up. It’s going to be a blast spending the day in the company of such splendid speakers.

If you’re coming to town for dConstruct—or for any of the other wonderful events going on—here are a few tips on some places to eat…

The Guardian recently published a list of the top 10 10 budget restaurants and cafes in Brighton. Seems like a pretty fair sampling. The Seven Bees cafe is recommended for its fry-up—a recommendation endorsed by Lomokev who has eaten and photographed just about every fry-up in Brighton and beyond.

Chris has put together a Foursquare list of places to try.

On the weekend, the Brighton and Hove Food Festival will be running its market on New Road and Jubilee Street, right by the locations of Maker Faire and Indie Web Camp, so there’ll be no shortage of tasty treats on offer.

On the day of dConstruct itself, we won’t be providing lunch, but we have arranged for some discounts at nearby cafés and restaurants. Also, it’s a Friday and that means Street Diner will be happening just up the road from the Brighton Dome.

Alas, the weather forecast is looking pretty damp for Friday—even though it’s going to be gloriously sunny until then—so be sure to bring your brolly.

August in America, day twenty-five

Today was the second day of An Event Apart Chicago and I kicked things off with my talk The Long Web. But this time I introduced a new variable into the mix—I played a bit of mandolin.

A Man and His Music: Jeremy Keith at An Event Apart Chicago 2013

It was relevant …honest. I was talking about the redesign and relaunch of The Session, which involved giving a bit of background on traditional Irish music, so it seemed appropriate to demonstrate with a hornpipe. I screwed it up a little bit, but people didn’t seem to mind.

Jeremy Keith at An Event Apart Chicago 2013

Once I was done with my talk, I was able to relax and enjoy an excellent presentation by Adrian on interface details; lots of great food for thought in there.

Once the day was done, myself, Jessica, Jason, Ethan, Brad, Kristina, and Karen made our way to The Purple Pig, where we proceeded to eat all the food. Excellent food and excellent company; a good way to spend my last night in Chicago …and indeed, the United States.

Tomorrow I begin the journey home.

August in America, day twenty-four

Today was the opening day of An Event Apart Chicago so I spent the whole day at the back of the room absorbing the knowledge bombs being dropped.

As usual, the quality of the talks was excellent, and quite a few of them set me up nicely for my talk tomorrow. I’ll be reiterating a lot of what Ethan said about progressive enhancement—no surprise there.

I’m on first thing tomorrow. That’s the hangover slot (thanks for booze, Media Temple). I’m kind of nervous about the talk. Now that I’ve given it once already—at An Event Apart DC earlier this month—I shouldn’t be worried, but I’m going to attempt something a bit new tomorrow. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be left with egg on my face.

Wish me luck.

Brighton in September

dConstruct is now exactly five weeks away. To say that I am excited would be quite an understatement.

I am insanely excited about this year’s dConstruct. I think the line-up is quite something—a non-stop parade of fantastic speakers. And the speakers themselves are equally excited, spurred on by the excellent company they’ll be keeping. Seriously, this is going to be an amazing day.

I’m also excited about all the other events happening around dConstruct as part of the Brighton Digital Festival.

The first week of September will kick off with the Reasons To Be Creative conference: three days of three tracks of all sorts of design and code.

Reasons finishes on Wednesday, September 4th, which is the same day that Seb will be running his fantastic CreativeJS workshop. I took this workshop myself a few months back and I can’t recommend it highly enough—you’ll come away feeling like you’re superpowered. Seb is a great teacher. And don’t be put off by the whiff of coding; this workshop is for everyone. In fact, I think designers with very little experience of code would be best served by it.

There are still some tickets available for Seb’s workshop and remember that booking onto the workshop also gets a complementary pass to the dConstruct conference day as well.

In between Seb’s workshop and the dConstruct conference proper, there’s Improving Reality, that wonderful conference on technology and culture curated by Lighthouse in Brighton. I’ve really, really enjoyed the last two years so I’m going to be there again this time ‘round on Thursday, September 5th.

Then right after dConstruct, there’s a weekend of good stuff happening over the Saturday and Sunday:

  • Brighton Mini Maker Faire — a day of interactive exhibitions on the Saturday followed by a workshops and panels on the Sunday. There’ll be talks and panels on the Saturday too, including a panel moderated by Maggie Philbin!
  • The Big Sussex Market will be running all weekend as part of the Brighton and Hove Food Festival. This will be on New Road, right by the Brighton Dome where Maker Faire will be happening.
  • Indie Web Camp will also be running all weekend, just round the corner at Lighthouse. This little gathering is something very dear to my heart. I was talking about just the other day on the Breaking Development podcast.

Phew! That’s quite a full dance card.

If you’ve got a ticket for dConstruct, remember that as per the terms and conditions, if you need to cancel or transfer the ticket you’ve only got one more week to do so.

If you haven’t got a ticket for dConstruct, what are you waiting for?

See you in Brighton in September.

dConstruct bulletin

I have some dConstruct news for you. First and foremost, mark your calendar:

Tickets for dConstruct go on sale at 11am on Tuesday, May 21st.

That’s just eight days from now. In some previous years, tickets went very quickly. I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of those heady days of selling out within 24 hours this year, but it’s still worth grabbing your ticket nice and early. At £135+VAT, it’s a steal (as usual).

If you want to be all set next Tuesday, the Eventbrite page for tickets will be dconstruct2013.eventbrite.com. Speak, friend, and enter.

If you’re wavering about whether or not to come this year, dispel your doubts. Just look at how much people enjoyed last year’s dConstruct—it was truly awesome, as you can hear for yourself on the dConstruct archive. This year’s line-up continues the tradition of blowing minds with brilliance.

On the subject of this year’s line-up, it is now complete with the addition of Simone Rebaudengo who will share his tells of neurotic network-enabled toasters. He was a huge hit at this year’s UX London and it became clear to me that I had to have him for dConstruct. I mean, the theme is “Communicating With Machines”, for crying out loud!

I’ve also been rounding up the finest and brightest teachers for full-day workshops that will precede the conference. The workshop tickets also go on sale next Tuesday. A workshop costs £395+VAT and that includes a complementary ticket to the conference day as well. Your choices are:

(Speaking of workshops, if you fancy a full day of responsive design with me, I’m doing a workshop on a workshop right before Ampersand in June and you can grab a 20% discount before the end of this month—‘twould be lovely if you could join me.)

In case you can’t tell, I’m getting very excited indeed about this year’s dConstruct. It’s going to be a lot of fun! Hope to see you there.

dConstruct 2013

Last year’s dConstruct was amazing. I know I’m biased, but you don’t have to believe me: everyone agreed it was an amazing conference.

Personally, I had the time of my life. Literally. The one-two punch of Brighton SF and dConstruct was one of the best couple of days I’ve ever had in my life.

But the day after dConstruct 2012 I remember waking up and thinking “ah, shit …how am I ever going to top that?”

Well, clearly, I can’t. But I can still do my damnest to put together a fantastic line-up for dConstruct 2013so that’s what I’ve done:

I think you’ll agree that’s not your typical conference line up. It’s going to be great! And it’s going to be a lot of fun. Trust me.

Trust is something I feel I’ve earned after last year’s tour-de-force. Last year’s line-up was pretty unusual too, but it worked superbly. Now I’ve got to make sure that I don’t squander the trust I earned.

So if you came to dConstruct last year, I don’t need to tell you why you should come back this year.

If you didn’t make it to last year’s dConstruct, you can make up for it this year. You don’t want to miss out two years in a row now, do you?

Tickets will go on sale in a few weeks time. I’ll announce the exact date soon. I’ll also be updating the information about the workshops we’ll be running this year.

And if you’re planning to come to Brighton for dConstruct, make sure to stick around for the weekend. The Brighton Digital Festival is happening again this September. That means a Maker Faire, meetups, hack events, and art shows all around town.

See you on the first Friday of September!

New year, old year

2013 is one week old. This time of transition from one calendar year to another is the traditional time to cast an eye back over the year that has just come to a close. Who am I to stand in the way of tradition?

2012 was quite a jolly year for me. Nothing particularly earth-shattering happened, and that’s just fine with me. I made some websites. I did some travelling. It was grand.

I really enjoyed working on Matter by day and hacking away at relaunching The Session by night.

The trip to New Zealand at the start of 2012 was great. Not only was Webstock a great conference (and I’m very happy with the talk I gave, Of Time And The Network), but the subsequent road trip with Jessica, Ethan, Liz, Erin and Peter was a joyous affair.

Thinking about it, I went to lovely new places in 2012 like Newfoundland and Oslo as well as revisiting New York, Austin, Chicago, and Freiburg. And I went to CERN, which was a great experience.

But the highlight of my year was undoubtedly the first week of September right here in Brighton. The combination of Brighton SF followed by dConstruct was simply amazing. I feel very privileged to have been involved in both events. I’m still pinching myself.

Now it’s 2013, and I’m already starting to plan this year’s dConstruct: be sure to put Friday, September 6th, 2013 in your calendar. Before that, I’ve got the Responsive Day Out—more on that soon. I’ve got some speaking engagements lined up, mostly in the States in the latter half of the year at An Event Apart. Interestingly, apart from compering dConstruct and BrightonSF, I didn’t speak at all in the UK in 2012—the last talk I gave in the UK was All Our Yesterdays at Build 2011.

I’m going to continue hacking away on Huffduffer and The Session whenever I can in 2013. I find those personal projects immensely rewarding. I’m also hoping to have time to do some more writing.

Let’s see what this year brings.