Refresh 06 | November 22, 2006

The conference itself was an interesting one. One the first day myself and Jeremy ran cut down versions of our CSS Mastery and Introduction to Ajax workshops to a group of about 25 people. Thinking that a lot of the attendees would have already read the book, I added in some new material, mostly dealing with new CSS3 techniques. Jeremy was on his usual good form and everybody seemed to enjoy the day.

I really like running workshops the day before a conference as it gives the attendees and speakers a chance to get to know each other in a more informal setting. On this occasion we all went out for food afterwards, followed by copious amounts of alcohol.

The conference was smaller than most, with about 75 people in attendance. This turned out to be one of the best things about the event as it was possible to meet and chat to everybody involved. As such it was a very social event. I got the opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as making some new ones. One of the most enduring memories has to be Jeremy being set up by Jina Bolton at a Japanese restaurant. I have to admit that I laughed so hard it hurt. Talk about schadenfreude.

The speakers were all great and I particularly enjoyed Cameron Moll on UI design and Brian Fling on mobile design. After chatting to Brian at some length over dinner, it seems like the mobile web design industry in the US is very different from the UK. Here we have several well established mobile agencies including our friends over at Future Platforms. However Brian was saying that in the US, most of the content is developed inhouse and there aren’t any dedicated agencies. If this is true, I see a huge gap in the market opening up very soon.

I think the biggest surprise for me was Paul Boag who delivered two very eloquent, although somewhat contentious presentations. In stark contrast to his weekly podcast and despite our constant ribbing, Paul’s presentations were extremely well organised and for the most part, factually correct. Imagine that! As such, I look forward to seeing Paul speak at future events.

I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently the organisers got some flack for using the Refresh name. I think some of the other refreshing cities were concerned about the concept getting too commercialised. I can understand these concerns but the actual event managed to maintain that self organised feel and was more of a big Refresh event than a small conference. With the Refresh concept proving a testing ground for new speakers, a yearly Refresh conference could give novice speakers the exposure they need, and create a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Posted at November 22, 2006 4:39 PM


Jeff Bridgforth said on November 22, 2006 6:38 PM

Enjoyed your recap of the conference. I also liked the small atmosphere because you were able to meet people and interact on the content.

I agree that Paul Boag did an excellent job speaking. He had a very sharp presentation.

I agree that having a yearly event would be a great chance for novice speakers to have the opportunity to share their wealth and develop their skills. I was inspired by your “superhero” talk and would like to have the opportunity to speak at a venue like this in the future as I grow as a designer and have something to contribute.

Ian Gray said on November 22, 2006 8:59 PM

I thought you were a little unkind in your dig of Paul’s podcast in that way! I’ve been a keen listener of his podcast since day one and really enjoyed it. It’s always informative and most of the time it is factually correct. Anyway I’m really glad you enjoyed your time and thanks again for dConstruct- it was great.

Andy Budd said on November 23, 2006 9:42 AM

Don’t worry Ian, it was just a friendly dig at the podcast. Paul himself admits it’s a little rambling at times, but therein lies its charm. Paul does occasionally get some of the technical details wrong, but don’t we all on occasion. In general I think the podcast is very well done and obviously very popular. Above all, Paul knows we love him really and the ribbing is simply a sign of affection

Saad said on November 24, 2006 4:15 PM

Glad you had fun at the conference! I am excited about the podcasts that will be posted.

Sidenote: Just want to say you guys are all very inpsiring! Im a 16 year old web designer (wannabe, im still in the decorating phase), and its so cool to see the design world in progress. I bought CSS Mastery, and it is very well done! I learned alot of stuff, especially about DTD’s and semantic markup!

Hopefully one day there will be a Refresh in Madison, WI. I would love to attend.

Matt Brown said on November 28, 2006 3:36 AM

Your CSS workshop on day 1 was excellent (especially with the “lightbulb moment” I shared with my workmate) and your Superhero session was truly inspiring. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to work together and I look forward to hearing you speak again.

Shimon said on November 28, 2006 3:51 PM

I hope next time I’ll get a chance to enjoy this great conference!

I’m a bit jealousy to those, who have been there.