I love the thoughtfulness that Sally put into her personal write-up of dConstruct.
Saturday, September 17th, 2022
Thursday, September 15th, 2022
Wow, what a day. A really diverse selection of talks that went all over the map. From building vast world-changing health systems, to scaling and archiving global online communities, to the beauty and joy of calligraphy. And lasers. I enjoyed the lot, which is rare for me at an event like this.
A rather lovely write-up of the final dConstruct!
Above all it was nice to see the diversity of approaches and reasons for doing ‘design’ / art / whatever. Some of us are solving the hard problems, some of us are thinking philosophically or creating new tools, and some of us are just having fun – and all approaches are valid and useful.
Tuesday, September 13th, 2022
That was dConstruct 2022
dConstruct 2022 happened last Friday, September 9th.
And what an event it was! All eight talks were superb. To have eight speakers and not a single dud is pretty great. To have eight speakers and each one be absolutely brilliant is more than I could’ve hoped for.
Hidde has written a summary of the talks. I loved each and every one. I got to sit there in the front row of the beautiful Duke of York’s cinema and watch these supersmart people blow my mind.
With six of the eight speakers having spoken at previous dConstructs, there was a lot of nostalgia in the air on Friday.
It was the last dConstruct.
A lot of people seemed surprised by this even though I kept saying it was a one-off event. Really, the last dConstruct happened in 2015. This year’s event was a one-time-only anniversary event.
Obviously because the day was so great, people expressed sadness and disappointment that there wouldn’t be another. But like I said, if a band like The Velvet Underground reforms to do one last gig, that’s pretty cool; but if a band like The Velvet Underground reforms to go on endless tours, that’s kind of sad. It’s time to move on. Have one last blow-out and go out in style.
And who knows? Maybe there’ll be some other kind of dConstructy gathering in a different format. Perhaps an evening salon event is more suited to this kind of interdisciplinary mish-mash. But as a one-day conference, dConstruct is now officially over.
To be honest, there was never any doubt that dConstruct 2022 would be an excellent day of talks. I knew that each of the speakers would deliver the goods. I played it somewhat safe with the line-up. Because this was a kind of “best of” event, I could draw upon speakers from previous years who were guaranteed to be mesmerising.
In a weird way, that also highlights the biggest problem with this year’s dConstruct. Even though every individual talk was terrific, when you pull back and look at the line-up in aggregate, you can’t help but notice its lack of diversity.
That’s on me.
I could show you the list of people I tried to get. I could talk you through the spots that fell through. But all I’d be doing is giving you excuses. I could show that my intentions were good, but intentions don’t matter as much as actions. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and what we ate last Friday was wonderful but also sadly representative of dConstruct’s homogenous history. For that reason alone, it’s time to draw a line under dConstruct.
It was a bittersweet send-off. On the one hand, I got to enjoy a day of brilliant talks. On the other hand, I’m pretty disappointed in myself that the line-up wasn’t more diverse. I can make all the claims I want about valuing diversity, but they’re hollow without meaningful results.
So that’s enough looking to the past. I’m bidding farewell to dConstruct and setting my sights on the future, a future that features more and different voices.
If you came along to dConstruct 2022, thank you! If you enjoyed attending dConstruct just half as much as I enjoyed hosting it …well, then I enjoyed it twice as much as you.
Monday, September 12th, 2022
Marc very kindly took loads of pictures at dConstruct on Friday—lovely!
Sunday, September 11th, 2022
A great write-up from Hidde on dConstruct 2022 and how the speakers tackled the theme of design transformation:
They talked about turning a series of penstrokes into art, lasers into fireworks, human experiences into novels and patient data collection into a minimal effort task.
A lot of our work in web design and technology has a power to transform and that is wonderful, especially when we manage to be intentional about the how and why.
Thursday, September 8th, 2022
One day to dConstruct
Just one more sleep until dConstruct—squee!
Not that I anticipate getting much sleep. My sleepnessness will partly be like that of a child on the night before Christmas. But my sleepnessness will also inevitably be that of an adult neurotically worrying about trifling details.
In reality, everything is all set. Thanks to the stellar Clearleft events team, I don’t need to lose any sleep. But my stupid brain can’t help but run a conveyer belt of potential problems through my mind: what about dongles? Power? Timings? What if there’s an impromptu rail strike? A deluge? Other emergencies you can’t even imagine?
I try to ignore those pestering pointless questions and instead think about the fantastic talks we’re going to get. I’m genuinely excited about each and every speaker. I’m pretty sure that once the day begins, I’ll forget all my worries and bliss out to the mind-expanding presentations.
The day before a conference feels kind of like the build-up to a battle. All the strategic decisions have been made, everything is in place, and now there’s nothing to do but wait.
I’ve communicated (or maybe over-communicated) all the relevant details to the speakers. And one week ago I sent one final email to the attendees with details of the schedule and some suggestions for lunch.
I also included this request:
Could you do me a favour? Would you mind getting a hold of a Covid test sometime in the next week and taking a test a day or two before dConstruct? (And if you test positive, please don’t come to the event.)
If you can’t get hold of a test (I know it can be tricky), then could you please bring a mask to wear when inside the venue?
I think asking everyone to take a test is a reasonable request, and nobody has objected to it. I worry that it’s yet another form of hygiene theatre (like providing anti-bacterial handwash for an airborne virus). After all, the antigen tests are most effective when you’ve already got symptoms. Taking a test when you don’t have symptoms might well give a negative result, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have Covid. Still, it’s a little intervention that might catch an infection that otherwise would’ve spread further.
I’m assuming that everyone coming to dConstruct is vaccinated. Maybe that’s naive on my part, but I figure if you’re intelligent enough to get a dConstruct ticket, you’re intelligent enough to protect yourself and others. So we won’t be requesting proof of vaccination. I hope my naivety aligns with reality.
See, this is all one more thing for my brain to gnaw on when I should be thinking about what a fantastic day of talks I’ve got ahead of me. Roll on tomorrow!
Tuesday, August 30th, 2022
I have got one update to the line-up to report. Sadly, Léonie Watson isn’t going to be able to make it after all. That’s a shame.
But that means there’s room to squeeze in one more brilliant speaker from the vaults of the dConstruct archive.
Back then he was entertaining us with hardware hacking and programming for fun. That was before he discovered lasers. Now he’s gone laser mad.
Don’t worry though. He’s fully qualified to operate lasers so he’s not going to take anyone’s eye out at dConstruct. Probably.
Wednesday, August 17th, 2022
The schedule for dConstruct 2022
The last ever dConstruct will happen just over three weeks from now, on Friday, September 9th.
That’s right—if you don’t have your ticket for this event, you won’t get another chance. The conference with its eye on the future will become a thing of the past.
dConstruct is going to go out with a bang, a veritable fireworks display of mind bombs. A calligrapher, a writer, a musician, and a nueroscientist will be on the line-up alongside designers and technologists.
Here’s the schedule for the day:
So the first talk starts at 10am and the last talk finishes at 4:30pm—all very civilised. Then we can all go to the pub.
There isn’t an official after-party but we can collectively nominate a nearby watering hole—the Unbarred taproom perhaps, or maybe The Hare And Hounds or The Joker—they’re all within cat-swinging distance of The Duke Of York’s.
Lunch isn’t provided but there are some excellent options nearby (and you’ll have a good hour and a half for the lunch break so there’s no rush).
The aforementioned Joker has superb hot wings from Lost Boys Chicken (I recommed the Rufio sauce if you like ‘em spicy, otherwise Thuddbutt is a good all ‘rounder).
And the famous Bardsley’s fish’n’chips is just ‘round the corner too.
So there’ll be plenty of food for the soul to match the food for your brain that’ll be doled up at dConstruct 2022.
Monday, August 8th, 2022
Matt shares some details on what he’ll be speaking about at dConstruct:
I’m going to talk generally around tools for togetherness which is my new framing for my long-running territory of general curiosity: how can we be together online, what we can do there, what it does to us, what are the design considerations, etc.
Get your ticket if you haven’t already!
I’m one of eight speakers – there’s a robotic artist, a neuroscientist, and a calligrapher. It should be an excellent day.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2022
The line-up for dConstruct 2022 …revealed!
Alright, I’ve kept you in suspense for long enough. It’s time to reveal the magnificent line-up for dConstruct 2022.
I’ll now put names to the teasing list of descriptions I previously provided…
A technologist, product designer, and writer who defies categorisation. They’ve headed up a design studio, co-founded a start-up, and now consult on super-clever machine learning stuff. Their blog is brilliant.
An award-winning author from South Africa whose work has recently been adapted for television. Some of their work is kind of sci-fi, some of it is kind of horror, some of it is kind of magical realism, and all of it is great.
An artist and designer who has created logos and illustrations for NASA, Apple, and Intel as well as custom typefaces for British Airways and Waitrose. A lover of letterforms, they are now one of the world’s highest-profile calligraphers posting their mesmerising work on Instagram.
This is Seb Lester.
A Canadian digital designer who has previously worked in the agency world, at Silicon Valley startups, and even venture capital. But now they’re doing truly meaningful work, designing for busy healthcare workers in low-income countries.
A multi-instrumentalist musician, producer and robotic artist who composes for film, theatre and the concert stage. They play a mean theremin.
An Australian designer and entrepreneur. They work in the cultural heritage sector and they’re an expert on digital archives. Their latest challenge is working out how to make an online photography archive last for 100 years.
A tireless defender of web standards and co-author of the Inclusive Design Principles. They’re a member of the W3C Advisory Board and of the BIMA Inclusive Design Council. Expect some thoughtful takes on the intersection of accessibility and emerging technologies.
This is Léonie Watson.
A professor of neuroscience who is also a bestselling author. They conduct experiments on people’s brains and then talk about it afterwards. Their talks have been known to be mind-altering.
This is Anil Seth.
That’s quite a line-up, isn’t it?
Deducing the full line-up just from those descriptions wasn’t easy, but Hidde de Vries managed it. So Hidde gets a free ticket to dConstruct 2022 …or, at least, he would if it weren’t for the fact that he already has a ticket (because Hidde is smart; be like Hidde). So a friend of Hidde’s is getting a free ticket instead (because Hidde is generous; be like Hidde).
Tuesday, July 19th, 2022
The line-up for dConstruct 2022
The line-up for dConstruct 2022 is complete!
If you haven’t yet got your ticket, it’s not too late.
Now here’s the thing…
When I announced the event back in May, I said:
I’m currently putting the line-up together. I’m not revealing anything just yet, but trust me, you will want to be there.
I still haven’t revealed anything, and I’m kind of tempted to keep it that way. Imagine showing up at an event and not knowing who’s going to be speaking. Is this is the best idea or the worst idea?
I suspect I’m going to have to announce the line-up at some point, but today is not that day. I’m going to string it out a bit longer.
But I am going to describe the line-up. And I’m going to throw in a challenge. The first person to figure out the complete line-up gets a free ticket. Send a tweet to the @dConstruct Twitter account with your deductions.
Ready? Here’s who’s speaking at dConstruct 2022 on Friday, September 9th in The Duke Of Yorks in Brighton…
- A technologist, product designer, and writer who defies categorisation. They’ve headed up a design studio, co-founded a start-up, and now consult on super-clever machine learning stuff. Their blog is brilliant.
- An award-winning author from South Africa whose work has recently been adapted for television. Some of their work is kind of sci-fi, some of it is kind of horror, some of it is kind of magical realism, and all of it is great.
- An artist and designer who has created logos and illustrations for NASA, Apple, and Intel as well as custom typefaces for British Airways and Waitrose. A lover of letterforms, they are now one of the world’s highest-profile calligraphers posting their mesmerising work on Instagram.
- A Canadian digital designer who has previously worked in the agency world, at Silicon Valley startups, and even venture capital. But now they’re doing truly meaningful work, designing for busy healthcare workers in low-income countries.
- A multi-instrumentalist musician, producer and robotic artist who composes for film, theatre and the concert stage. They play a mean theremin.
- An Australian designer and entrepreneur. They work in the cultural heritage sector and they’re an expert on digital archives. Their latest challenge is working out how to make an online photography archive last for 100 years.
- A tireless defender of web standards and co-author of the Inclusive Design Principles. They’re a member of the W3C Advisory Board and of the BIMA Inclusive Design Council. Expect some thoughtful takes on the intersection of accessibility and emerging technologies.
- A professor of neuroscience who is also a bestselling author. They conduct experiments on people’s brains and then talk about it afterwards. Their talks have been known to be mind-altering.
Sounds pretty freaking great, right?
Some further clues…
Many of these people have spoken at dConstruct in the past. After all, this year’s one-off event is going to be a kind of “best of.” So you might want to have a nose around the dConstruct archive.
Also, I’ve mentioned some nationalities like Australian, Canadian, and South African, but my self-imposed carbon footprint policy for this event forbids me from flying anyone in. So that’s a clue too.
The game is afoot! Tweet your deductions to the @dConstruct Twitter account or, even better, write a blog post and tweet the link, mentioning @dConstruct. The first correct answer gets a free ticket.
For everyone else, you can still get a ticket.
Thursday, May 26th, 2022
dConstruct 2022 is happening!
No, really, for real this time.
We had plans to do a one-off dConstruct anniversary event in 2020. It would’ve been five years since the event ran its ten year course from 2005 to 2015.
We all know what happened next. Not only was there no dConstruct in 2020, there were no live events at all. So we postponed the event. 2021 was slightly better than 2020 for live events, but still not safe enough for us.
Now, finally, the fifteenth anniversary edition of dConstruct is happening, um, on the seventeeth anniversary of dConstruct.
It’s all very confusing, I know. But this is the important bit:
dConstruct 2022 is happening on Friday, September 9th in the Duke of York’s picture house in Brighton.
Or, at least some tickets are available now. Quite a lot of eager folks bought tickets when the 2020 event was announced and those tickets are still good for this 2022 event …which is the 2020 event, but postponed by two years.
I’m currently putting the line-up together. I’m not revealing anything just yet, but trust me, you will want to be there.
If you haven’t been to a dConstruct event before, it’s kind of hard to describe. It’s not a practical hands-on conference where you learn design or development skills. It’s brain food. It’s about technology, culutre, design, society, the future …well, like I said, it’s kind of hard to describe. Have a poke around the dConstruct archive and listen to the audio from previous talks to get some idea of what might be in store.
Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
The dConstruct Audio Archive works offline
I’m really proud of the three years I ran the show—2012, 2013, and 2014—and I have great memories from each event. I’m inordinately pleased that the individual websites are still online after all these years. I’m equally pleased with the dConstruct audio archive that we put online in 2012. Now that the event itself is no longer running, it truly is an archive—a treasury of voices from the past.
I think that these kinds of online archives are eminently suitable for some offline design. So I’ve added a service worker script to the dConstruct archive.
But what about the individual pages? For something like Resilient Web Design—another site that won’t be updated—I pre-cache everything. I could do that with the dConstruct archive. All of the pages with all of the images add up to less than two megabytes; the entire site weighs less than a single page on Wired.com or The Verge.
In the end, I decided to go with a cache-as-you-go strategy. Every time a page or an image is fetched from the network, it is immediately put in a cache. The next time that page or image is requested, the file is served from that cache instead of the network.
Here’s the logic for fetch requests:
- First, look to see if the file is in a cache. If it is, great! Serve that.
- If the file isn’t in a cache, make a network request and serve the response …but put a copy of a file in the cache.
- The next time that file is requested, go to step one.
Save for offline
That caching strategy works great for pages, images, and other assets. But there’s one kind of file on the dConstruct archive that’s a bit different: the audio files. They can be fairly big, so I don’t want to cache those unless the user specifically requests it.
If you end up on the page for a particular talk, and your browser supports service workers, you’ll get an additional UI element in the list of options: a toggle to “save offline” (under the hood, it’s a checkbox). If you activate that option, then the audio file gets put into a cache.
Now if you lose your network connection while browsing the site, you’ll get a custom offline page with the option to listen to any audio files you saved for offline listening. You’ll also see this collection of talks on the homepage, regardless of whether you’ve got an internet connection or not.
So if you’ve got a long plane journey ahead of you, have a browse around the dConstruct archive and select some talks for your offline listening pleasure.
Or just enjoy the speediness of browsing the site.
Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Benjamin’s retrospective on three years of volunteering at web conferences, some of them run by Clearleft.
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Just like Nick, John Willshire has put his slides together with the audio from his gobsmackingly good dConstruct presentation on metadesign.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Nick Foster has put the audio of his fantastic dConstruct talk together with his slides.
It’s a terrific, thought-provoking presentation, superbly delivered …and it even has some relevance to progressive enhancement! (you’ll know what I mean if you watch/listen to the whole thing)
Monday, September 14th, 2015
John expands on just one part of his superbly dense and entertaining dConstruct talk.
Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Brighton in September
I know I say this every year, but this month—and this week in particular—is a truly wonderful time to be in Brighton. I am, of course, talking about The Brighton Digital Festival.
It’s already underway. Reasons To Be Creative just wrapped up. I managed to make it over to a few talks—Stacey Mulcahey, Jon, Evan Roth. The activities for the Codebar Code and Chips scavenger hunt are also underway. Tuesday evening’s event was a lot of fun; at the end of the night, everyone wanted to keep on coding.
I popped along to the opening of Georgina’s Familiars exhibition. It’s really good. There’s an accompanying event on Saturday evening called Unfamiliar Matter which looks like it’ll be great. That’s the same night as the Miniclick party though.
I guess clashing events are unavoidable. Like tonight. As well as the Guardians Of The Galaxy screening hosted by Chris (that I’ll be going to), there’s an Async special dedicated to building a 3D Lunar Lander.
But of course the big event is dConstruct tomorrow. I’m really excited about it. Partly that’s because I’m not the one organising it—it’s all down to Andy and Kate—but also because the theme and the line-up is right up my alley.
Andy has asked me to compere the event. I feel a little weird about that seeing as it’s his baby, but I’m also honoured. And, you know, after talking to most of the speakers for the podcast—which I enjoyed immensely—I feel like I can give an informed introduction for each talk.
I’m looking forward to this near future event.
See you there.