Update Conference 2011

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Update Conference 2011

I recently returned from my very first trip to the UK — a family vacation that I planned close to Brighton Digital Festival, a month-long celebration of technology in one of England’s most creative cities. While I was unable to attend dConstruct, I did pick up a ticket to the brand new Update Conference, organized and curated by developer Aral Balkan.

Until then I had only attended An Event Apart so it was quite a different experience — from ticket price and social events, to conference format and entertainment, it was obvious that Aral not only wanted it to be a great learning experience, but a spectacle as well!

I won’t comment on every talk, but here are a few highlights:

Anna Debenham

Anna Debenham

Anna had what I thought to be the most important talk of the day — the frightening state of technology education in the UK. Generally, it’s the same here in Canada — classes focus on how to use specific software, with very little focus on how to build software. Here, most grade-school (and even college) classes teach web design through WYSIWYG applications without teaching the hows and the whys of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Anna encouraged everyone to get involved with teaching students the longterm, valuable skills they need. Taking her advice, I will be teaching my Introduction to HTML and CSS class to grade-school students again on November 26th, 2011 at Mount Pearl Intermediate. If you or your child will be in the area and want to attend, please let me know in advance. If you’re a teacher, I strongly encourage you to attend to see why web standards matters and why it is no longer acceptable for it to be absent from a technology curriculum.

Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith

I’ve seen Jeremy speak numerous times, and he’s earned my title of “Person Who Could Read The Entire HTML5 Spec Aloud And Make It Sound Exciting.” (He’s also got many other titles.)

Jeremy spoke about the One Web, reminding us how there isn’t a separate “web” specifically for mobile devices, and how we shouldn’t be treating it as such. He wants developers to push for universal accessibility instead of focussing on native apps that are device-dependant.

I see the reasoning for both. On one hand, I understand the importance of accessibility from any device. On the other hand, I do believe that a user experience can be finely tuned when designing around a device, but again — this user experience only applies to those people who own that particular device, thereby cutting everyone else out of the experience altogether.

What we make as developers and designers influences browser makers and feature implementation. If we focus too much on building apps, it’s quite likely that the browser will be ignored by more and more people. I believe that the content of each project should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and we should ask ourselves — does this really need to be a native app, and why? What’s more important, a better user experience for a few, or fully accessible content for all? Choosing to make an app just for the sake of wanting to have it in the iTunes store is not the answer.

Ronald Wayne

Aral Balkan and Ronald Wayne

There’s Steve Jobs, and there’s Steve Wozniak. But there’s also Ronald Wayne, the third founder of Apple, who gave up his share in the company for $2300. Aral invited Mr. Wayne as a special guest at Update where they had a relaxed conversation about Atari, Apple, and more. Aral and Team Update presented Mr. Wayne with an iPad 2 — his very first Apple product. While I didn’t get to meet Mr. Wayne during the conference, I was lucky enough to meet him in the lobby of my hotel the following morning.

A Royal Experience

Royal Dinner

It was great to see old friends and meet many new. Thanks to Aral for putting off a wonderful event (the dinner and tour of the Royal Pavilion was a highlight of my trip) and for planting a seed in my own head, as well. Watch this space.

All photos by Geri Coady. See the full set on Flickr.

Photo of Geri Coady

About Me

I’m Geri Coady — a designer and illustrator from St. John’s, Newfoundland — now living in Nottingham, UK. I've got an eye for detail, a passion for the web, and I'm ready to work with clients worldwide. Want to learn more?

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