Tags: dconstruct2014

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dConstruct 2014

dConstruct is all done for another year. Every year I feel sort of dazed in the few days after the conference—I spend so much time and energy preparing for this event looming in my future, that it always feels surreal when it’s suddenly in the past.

But this year I feel particularly dazed. A little numb. Slightly shellshocked even.

This year’s dConstruct was …heavy. Sure, there were some laughs (belly laughs, even) but overall it was a more serious event than previous years. The word that I heard the most from people afterwards was “important”. It was an important event.

Here’s the thing: if I’m going to organise a conference in 2014 and give it the theme of “Living With The Network”, and then invite the most thoughtful, informed, eloquent speakers I can think of …well, I knew it wasn’t going to be rainbows and unicorns.

If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t there, it probably sounds like it wasn’t much fun. To be honest, “fun” wasn’t the highest thing on the agenda this year. But that feels right. And even though it wasn’t a laugh-fest, it was immensely enjoyable …if, like me, you enjoy having your brain slapped around.

I’m going to need some time to process and unpack everything that was squeezed into the day. Fortunately—thanks to Drew’s typical Herculean efforts—I can do that by listening to the audio, which is already available!

Slap the RSS feed in your generic MP3 listening device of choice and soak up the tsunami of thoughts, ideas, and provocations that the speakers delivered.

Oh boy, did the speakers ever deliver!

Warren Ellis at dConstruct Georgina Voss at dConstruct Clare Reddington at dConstruct Aaron Straup Cope at dConstruct Brian Suda at dConstruct Mandy Brown at dConstruct Anab Jain at dConstruct Tom Scott at dConstruct Cory Doctorow at dConstruct

Listen, it’s very nice that people come along to dConstruct each year and settle into the Brighton Dome to listen to these talks, but the harsh truth is that I didn’t choose the speakers for anyone else but myself. I know that’s very selfish, but it’s true. By lucky coincidence, the speakers I want to see turn out to deliver the best damn talks on the planet.

That said, as impressed as I was by the speakers, I was equally impressed by the audience. They were not spoon-fed. They had to contribute their time, attention, and grey matter to “get” those talks. And they did. For that, I am immensely grateful. Thank you.

I’m not going to go through all the talks one by one. I couldn’t do them justice. What was wonderful was to see the emerging themes, ideas, and references that crossed over from speaker to speaker: thoughts on history, responsibility, power, control, and the future.

And yes, there was definitely a grim undercurrent to some of those ideas about the future. But there was also hope. More than one speaker pointed out that the future is ours to write. And the emphasis on history highlighted that our present moment in time—and our future trajectory—is all part of an ongoing amazing collective narrative.

But it’s precisely because the future is ours to write that this year’s dConstruct hammered home our collective responsibility. This year’s dConstruct was a grown-up, necessarily serious event that shined a light on our current point in history …and maybe, just maybe, provided some potential paths for the future.

This week in Brighton

This is my favourite week of the year. It’s the week when Brighton bursts into life as the its month-long Digital Festival kicks off.

Already this week, we’ve had the Dots conference and three days of Reasons To Be Creative, where designers and makers show their work. And this afternoon Lighthouse are running their annual Improving Reality event.

But the best is yet to come. Tomorrow’s the big day: dConstruct 2014. I’ve been preparing for this day for so long now, it’s going to be very weird when it’s over. I must remember to sit back, relax and enjoy the day. I remember how fast the day whizzed by last year. I suspect that tomorrow’s proceedings might display equal levels of time dilation—I’m excited to see every single talk.

Even when dConstruct is done, the Brighton festivities will continue. I’ll be at Indie Web Camp here at 68 Middle Street on Saturday on Sunday. Also on Saturday, there’s the brilliant Maker Faire, and when the sun goes down, Brighton will be treated to Seb’s latest project which features frickin’ lasers!

This is my favourite week of the year.

Georgina Voss at dConstruct

It’s exactly two weeks until dConstruct. I AM EXCITE!!!11ELEVEN!! If you’ve already got your ticket: excellent! If not, you can still get one. It’s not too late.

There is a change to the advertised line-up…

Alas, Jen can no longer make it to Brighton. Circumstances have conspired to make trans-atlantic travel an impossibility. It’s a real shame because I was really looking forward to her talk, but these things happen (and she’s gutted too: she was really looking forward to being in Brighton for this year’s dConstruct).

But never fear. We’ve swapped out one fantastic talk for another fantastic talk. Brighton’s own Georgina Voss has very kindly stepped into the breach. She’s going to knock your socks off with her talk, Tethering the Hovercraft:

A careen through grassroots innovation, speculative design, supply chains and sexual healthcare provision, lashing down over-caffeinated flailing into the grit of socio-technical systems.

Awwww yeah!

I had the chance to see Georgina speak a few months back at Lighthouse Arts and it was terrific. She is the perfect fit for this year’s dConstruct—she really is living with the network.

It’s a shame that Jen can’t join us for this year’s dConstruct but, my goodness, what a great day it’s going to be—now with added Vossomeness!

Anab Jain at dConstruct

The countdown to dConstruct 2014 has well and truly begun. It’s just three and a half weeks away, and I am very excited.

I have some good news and bad news.

The bad news is that Leila Johnston can no longer make it—she has decided to cancel all her public speaking engagements to focus on the next Hack Circus event.

But the (very) good news is that Anab Jain will be speaking! Yay!

I had actually approached Anab earlier when I was still putting together the line-up for this year’s dConstruct, but it didn’t look like she could fit it into her schedule. Then as the line-up of speakers coalesced, it became clearer and clearer that she would be the perfect person to talk about Living With The Network and I was filled with regret.

Now that she has so graciously agreed to step in at such short notice, I couldn’t be happier. Seriously, I am so excited about the line-up that I’m like a kid counting down the days until Christmas.

There are still tickets available for dConstruct 2014. If you haven’t got yours yet, well, you should fix that. (Have I mentioned how excited I am about this year’s line-up? I’m quite, quite excited about this year’s line-up.)

If you’re the gambling kind, you can try your luck at winning a ticket to the conference, thanks to our lovely sponsors SiteGround. Fill in their short survey and you’re in with a chance.

Regardless of how you get hold of ticket, get hold of a ticket. And I’ll see you at the magnificent Brighton Dome on Friday, September 5th for a day of superb brain-bending entertainment from Warren Ellis, Mandy Brown, Cory Doctorow, Clare Reddington, Tom Scott, Aaron Straup Cope, Jen Lowe, Brian Suda …and Anab Jain!

dConstruct 2014 schedule

I’ve published the schedule for this year’s dConstruct. Curating an event like this doesn’t stop when the speakers have been finalised. Figuring out the flow of the day is another aspect that I really wanted to get right. It’s like making a mixtape.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got planned …but maybe I’ll add the “subject to change” caveat just in case I change my mind:

Registration
Warren Ellis
Jen Lowe
Break
Clare Reddington
Aaron Straup Cope
Lunch
Brian Suda
Mandy Brown
Leila Johnston
Break
Tom Scott
Cory Doctorow
After-party

Regardless of what order the talks end up in, I’m really excited about seeing every single one of them.

Warren’s talk is simply called “A Cunning Plan”:

Inventing the next twenty years, strategic foresight, fictional futurism and English rural magic: Warren Ellis attempts to convince you that they are all pretty much the same thing, and why it was very important that some people used to stalk around village hedgerows at night wearing iron goggles.

Jen’s is “Enigmas, not Explanations: a Speculative Nonfiction”:

A wander through indescribable projects, magical realisms, and the fantastical present. A speculation on resonances within the network and the good that can come from making questions without answers.

Clare will talk about “Memes for Cities”:

A giant water slide. A talking lamppost. A zombie chase game. These recent city interventions were enabled by networks of people, technology and infrastructure, making the world more playful and creating change. In this Playable City talk, Clare will take on the functional image of a future city, sharing how to design playful experiences that change our relationships with the places we live and work.

Aaron’s talk is intriguely titled “Still Life with Emotional Contagion”.

I love where Brian is going with “Humans Are Only a Self-driving Car’s Way of Making Another Self-driving Car”:

Over 10,000 years ago we lived in balance with the network. Since then we’ve tried to control, rule and bend it to our whims. In all that time, we’ve never asked ourselves if we’re building something that controls us?

Mandy will be talking about “Hypertext as an Agent of Change”:

Mandy Brown contemplates how hypertext has changed us, and what change is yet to come.

Leila’s talk will be the autobiographical “Running Away with the Circus”:

Lessons of launching your own magazine and event series, how to make it work, what not to do, and how to keep the right attitude and get interesting stuff done against the odds.

Tom will take us on a journey to 2030:

Privacy’s dead. What happens next?

And finally, Cory will declare “Information Doesn’t Want to be Free”:

There are three iron laws of information age creativity, freedom and business, woven deep into the fabric of the Internet’s design, the functioning of markets, and the global system of regulation and trade agreements.

You can’t attain any kind of sustained commercial, creative success without understanding these laws — but more importantly, the future of freedom itself depends on getting them right.

They all sound bloody brilliant!

There are still plenty of tickets left so if you haven’t got your ticket to dConstruct yet (what’s wrong with you?), you can grab one now.

Cory Doctorow at dConstruct 2014

This year’s dConstruct will be the tenth one. Ten! That’s a cause for celebration.

The very first dConstruct back in 2005 was a small affair. But we pulled off something off a coup by having the one and only Cory Doctorow deliver the closing talk. You can still listen to the talk—along with every dConstruct talk ever—at the dConstruct archive.

Cory Doctorow

It’s a great talk that still holds up a decade later. Cory’s passion for freedom and technology (and maintaining the intersection of both) is palpable.

Here we are in 2014 and the theme for dConstruct is “Living With The Network.” Who better to deliver a keynote address than Cory Doctorow?

That’s right—he’s back!

Cory Doctorow

I love the symmetry of having Cory at the first and the tenth dConstruct. Also: he’s absolutely bloody brilliant!

Get your ticket for dConstruct 2014 now. It’s going to be a magnificent day.

See you on September 5th!

A new website for dConstruct 2014

dConstruct 2014 has a new website. Huzzah!

When I announced the original website two months ago, I was very, very excited about the line-up, but I was less excited about the design of the site itself. To be honest, it was a somewhat rushed affair. It did the job but it didn’t have much pizzazz. I had some design direction—colour, typography, texture—courtesty of Mikey, but I didn’t push it to do anything very interesting.

dConstruct original 320 dConstruct original 600 dConstruct original 768

So Mikey took some time to iterate and revise, and he came up with a gorgeous new design. I think this does a much better job of capturing the spirit of dConstruct.

As well as a revised colour palette and lusher textures, there was also opportunity to do something quite playful in the masthead. Making sites for our own projects always presents a nice opportunity to try out some whacky stuff that we might not get a chance to do on client work.

In this case, the plan was to play with the theme of this year’s dConstruct—Living With The Network—and use it as part of the visual design, literally networking up parts of the interface.

It was a nice chance for me to play around with canvas. But I didn’t dive into code straight away. I had a think about how I could add this an enhancement to the responsive layout.

My plan was to generate a canvas element under the existing elements in the header using z-index to keep them separated while maintaining the appearance of having everything connected up.

Sketching before coding

It worked out pretty well. But I wanted to push it further. How about making it an interactive element that responds to the user?

I know, I know. It’s very silly and frankly a bit wanky, but y’know, it felt like it would be nice and playful.

I had no idea how to do it though. At an internal code review here at Clearleft, I demoed what I had so far and asked for advice. The general consensus was that I should probably be using SVG rather than canvas for making interactive graphical elements. They’re probably right, but I distinctly remember learning about hit detection and mouse events in canvas during Seb’s excellent Creative JS workshop.

So I stuck with canvas and fiddled around with numbers until I got to something that felt lke it reacted nicely to hover events (or touch/clicks if hover isn’t available …or even if it is). requestAnimationFrame was a godsend when it came to getting smooth animations.

Have a play with it. It’s hard to miss. It’s not exactly a subtle easter egg.

The content of the site remains much the same. While I was disatisfied with the original visual design of the site, I’m still pretty chuffed with the copy.

One small change I made was to give the code of conduct its own page (and expand on it a bit). Previously it was included with terms and conditions but there was a good chance that it could’ve been overlooked there.

Anyway, I hope you like the new site. I think Mikey did a terrific job with the design and it was a lot of fun to put together …especially the silly wanky bit. The only slight disadvantage is that the page weight comes in slightly larger than the previous design. But I’ll keep optimising to see if I can shave off some bytes here and there.

Device testing dConstruct Device testing dConstruct

Oh, and you might notice one significant change on the home page. In addition to the speakers that are currently listed, there’s an addendum that reads “…and more”. That’s because the line-up for this year’s dConstruct, awesome as it is, is not yet complete. It’s going to get even better.

If you don’t have your ticket to this year’s dConstruct yet, what are you waiting for?

See you on September 5th.

Ten years of dConstruct

Tickets for dConstruct 2014 have been on sale for just over a week now. If you haven’t nabbed yours yet, here’s the URL:

ti.to/clearleft/dconstruct-2014

This will be the tenth dConstruct. Ten years! It’s pretty crazy to look back through the archive and see how the event has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2005 to last year’s magnificent tour-de-force.

If you missed out last year, the videos are all online. You can watch the talks by Sarah Angliss, Maciej Cegłowski, Dan Williams and all the other terrific presenters.

And after you’ve done that, book your place in the Brighton Dome for Friday, September 5th, 2014. Believe me, you don’t want to miss out on this year’s event.

Ten years! Crazy.

It’s kind of fun to look back at the themes for each year:

dConstruct tickets

Tickets for dConstruct 2014 go on sale on Monday morning at 11am.

I expect there’ll be quite a rush for tickets initially, but don’t worry—if you aren’t able to get to an internet-enabled device to secure your place the moment that tickets go on sale, rest assured that there’ll be tickets available for quite a while. For the past few years, there have been tickets still available right up until a month before the event itself.

That said, you might as well grab your ticket straight away. You definitely don’t want to miss this year’s event. Just look at that amazing line-up.

Oh, and that line-up just got a little bit more amazing. I’m pleased as punch to announce that Jen Lowe will be joining us for dConstruct. Just one more brilliant and talented person to add to the roster of brilliant and talented people who are going to make this year’s dConstruct something else.

If you’re travelling from outside Brighton, then the first thing you might want to do after securing your dConstruct ticket is to find some accommodation. Here’s a dConstruct page on AirBnB listing plenty of available lodgings.

I recommend sticking around for the weekend after dConstruct too. As well as the annual Maker Faire and the Brighton and Hove Food Festival, there’s going to be plenty of other events happening under the banner of the Brighton Digital Festival.

Brighton is definitely the place to be in the first week of September.

And the dConstruct ticket page is definitely the place to be on Monday morning.

(One thing to note: if you’re buying a whole bunch of tickets for your workmates, please make sure to add a name for each ticket. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to update the names on the tickets at any time up ‘till a couple of weeks before the event itself. So even if you’re not sure now who the final attendees will turn out to be, you can adjust the tickets once you figure it out. But you can’t leave the names blank—if you do, I’m afraid the whole order will be cancelled.)

Announcing dConstruct 2014

I’ve been puttin together the website for this year’s dConstruct and I reckon it’s in a decent enough shape to ship, so without further ado, I present to you…

dConstruct 2014 — Living With The Network

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. dConstruct 2014 takes place on September 5th in the Brighton Dome.
  2. Tickets will cost £150+VAT.
  3. Tickets go on sale at 11am on May 19th.
  4. It will be bloody brilliant.

To clarify that last point, it will be bloody brilliant because of the people who will be speaking. Like, ooh, I don’t know …Warren Fucking Ellis!

Mandy Brown!, Aaron Straup Cope!, Clare Reddington!, Tom Scott!, Leila Johnston!, Brian Suda!

I’m ludicrously excited about the line-up for this year’s event, and what’s on the website isn’t even the full roster; there’s more to come. But I can’t contain my excitement any longer and I just have to share this with everyone.

Now, you may not recognise every name on the line-up. Heck, you may not recognise any the names on the line-up. But if you were at dConstruct last year (or the year before) than I hope I’ve earned your trust. And trust me, this is going to be a fantastic day.

So put Monday, May 19th in your calendar so you can grab your ticket when they go on sale (don’t worry—there’s plenty to go around). And put Friday, September 5th in your calendar and I’ll see in the Brighton Dome for the event of the year.*

*Not hyperbole

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).