Tags: barcampbrighton

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dCapsule

As is now traditional, there will be a BarCamp in Brighton straight after dConstruct. This year it’s happening at a new venue, the Old Music Library in the middle of town—right across from the Brighton Dome, venue for dConstruct. The first batch of tickets went on sale yesterday but there’ll be more to come (if you don’t fancy playing web booking roulette, a sure-fire way of getting a ticket is to contribute to sponsoring the event).

If you’re coming to Brighton for dConstruct, I highly recommend staying for the weekend and sleeping over at BarCamp.

If you’re not coming to Brighton for dConstruct, why not? Haven’t you seen the line-up? It’s going to be fantastic.

Here’s one way to get a ticket; add something to the dConstruct time capsule:

Take a look around you. What do you see that you would like to preserve for the future? Take a picture of it, upload that picture to Flickr and tag it with dconstructcapsule.

The ticket you could win is no ordinary ticket. It’s a VIP ticket that will get you into dConstruct itself, two nights in a luxury hotel in the centre of Brighton, and a place at the speakers’ dinner the evening before the conference.

Even without the competition aspect, I think this is a pretty nifty project. People have already posted some great items:

Minidisk Player
This used to be cool. I think it still is.

Red Ring of Death
The infamous red ring of death. A symbol of recreation in the naughties and a beacon of utter despair.

Howarth S2 oboe
…though my oboe is a product of centuries of instrument making techniques and technology rather than something new, it’s certainly something (along with the skills that made it) that I believe needs preserving for the future as an example of beautiful design and craft.

time capsule banana
Clever future-people! Please clone this fruit—it’s a design classic (iconic styling, great usability), it’s nutritious, and it’s tastier than the bland efficiency-gruel you slurp down the rest of the space-week.

Now it’s your turn. What would you add to the dConstruct time capsule.

Beauty at BarCamp Brighton

As soon as dConstruct was over, it was time for the next wonderful gathering of geeks: BarCamp Brighton 3.

I didn’t manage to make it to the event for the kick-off, having spent the previous evening celebrating at the after-party and after-after-party that my talk was really over and done with. That meant that I missed some of the early speaking slots but I still managed to see some great talks (including Nat’s excellent IE6 bug-squashing quiz) and spend a pleasant evening playing CSS Specificity Snap and Semantopoly.

Despite the fact that the venue boasted eight separate locales for giving talks, speaking slots were at a premium, which is a testament to the enthusiasm of the attendees. I managed to grab a spot towards the end of the day two. My presentation was very hastily prepared—in fact, I was preparing it while giving continuous partial attention to Rebecca and Jessica’s excellent presentations.

I gave a short talk called The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, an appellation once applied to Hedy Lamarr. I figured that my fellow geeks would enjoy the story of her oft-overlooked contribution to technology.

Hardware

While I had to travel quite for to attend the geek Summer camp that is South by Southwest, the next geek event I went to was a lot closer to home. BarCamp Brighton 2 was the perfect way to come down after SXSW without going cold turkey on passionate geekery.

My hat is off to everyone who helped put the event together and to the University of Sussex for agreeing to host such an unusual gathering. This was the fifth Barcamp I’ve attended and, as usual, it was simply fantastic. There were some excellent talks ranging from primatology to data visualisation. I did my bit by contributing to a panel discussion on portable social networks with Aral, Tom, Colin, Christian and Aleks, who covered the implications of social network portability for virtual worlds.

There was also plenty of hands-on hacking to be done thanks to a heavy arduino presence. I sat in on one session, managed to get an LED to blink and I was hooked. I now have my own little arduino kit, a bread board and a lucky bag of LEDs. Alas, know next to nothing about basic electronics so I’m really going to have to brush up on this stuff. It will certainly be a long time before I’ll be performing the kind of arduino/wiimote hacking that Nigel Crawley was doing.

There was more arduino/wiimote hacking to be seen at the Flash Brighton meetup a few days later. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit by Rachel Beth Egenhoefer that’s currently running in the Lighthouse gallery in Brighton—in the same building that houses the Clearleft HQ. The show runs until April 5th. Be sure to check it out if you want to see the knitting equivalent of Guitar Hero.

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.

dConstructivism

I’m feeling a very strange mixture of excitement and apprehension this week.

As the days count down to dConstruct 2007 on Friday, I’m feeling like a little kid at Christmas time. I’ve been looking forward to this all year. Now, as my friends from distant shores begin to wend their way towards Brighton, I’m fit to burst with anticipation.

At the same time, I’ve been frantically preparing for the microformats workshop I’m doing with Tantek two days before the conference. We’re planning to have a very hands-on practical day, light on slides but heavy on exercises. It makes a nice change from the DOM Scripting and Ajax workshops I normally do. They have a minimum level of complexity that doesn’t lend itself to hands-on exercises. The nice thing about a deliberately simple technology like microformats is that someone could potentially begin the day knowing nothing about microformats and end the day markup up hCards and hCalendars to beat the band.

I think the workshop will be good but the demons of doubt always descend at this point. I’m going to try to harness their insidious whispers to keep working on my material instead of letting them paralyze me into inaction.

Still, I’ll be glad when the workshop is done. Then I can really let my hair down and enjoy the conference… as well as all the other events going on in Brighton this week:

In the midst of all this merriment, conference attendees can also indulge in the dConstruct Photo Scavenger Hunt which starts on the 5th and ends on the 9th. To participate, take suitable pictures around Brighton and tag them with , , , , , , , and .

I don’t know what that last one’s all about.

If you’re coming to dConstruct, I’ll see you soon and together we can let the good times roll. As soon as I’ve done this workshop.