This year I participated in the conference as a volunteer, and I want to share with you my experience.
I did not watched all the talks, and some of them I did not watch completely. However, the feedback for the line up was excellent and you can watch them all online in the BT Conf channel of Vimeo
It was a mixed group of beautiful young people volunteering for years on the conference.
They are welcoming and committed, helping each other and making you feel part of the team right away.
They work hard, from start to end, they give their best and keep a lively spirit towards the attendees.
It was my first time, I had limitations with regards to the time I could be there helping, but the time I was there, I enjoyed it.
My favorite part, talk with people, make them laugh and at the same time help them with what they wanted or needed.
During the time in between I could see some talks, and these are the things I have to say from the ones I watched.
David Carson — design pro. Talk: Never Snap to Guides
He showed amazing pieces of his work and explained a bit the ideas behind them. His talk was unstructured, and took a bit longer than it should. From the story telling point of view, it was like a trip into the brain of a highly creativity focused person. Below some of his quotes:
Your view brings something unique to a project
Legibility does not ensure communication
Designers should be more subjective. Your unique eye. Don’t be lazy
Designers notice special things others don’t
I never learned design. I just did what made sense for me, people complained about me breaking rules… but that is what made his designs successful
People want to know that there is a human behind the design, more rough designs work therefore better than straight square ones.
If you don’t show the client crazy stuff they will never chose them
With conservative clients there is a different challenge. How do I do something that works for them and still is different.
Keep doing what you like and stay curious
Great ideas are greater than one person
So you gotta be open to the unexpected
David Delgado — a creative mind in NASA. His Talk: Imagination, Desire and the Call of the Future
He is a person working in a creative team for NASA somewhere in California. He creates experiences based on data and information about the space. From the story telling point of view, he evolves the story and puts pieces together, so that the story is more and more mind blowing.
I took less quotes of him, just one:
Sometimes is enough to get people curious to ask questions, design for curiosity, put something there that does not have all the answers and that it is not that obvious. Then people will interact with your design and start asking the right questions.
Shirley Wu — a D3 animator master. Her talk: Data, Design, Code
She mixes literature elements with data and code to visualize data and ideas in a compelling way. She also includes trigonometry and SVG paths animation to create the effects she wants.
She shows different projects, it’s goals and puts them in context of a tip coming out of her experience and knowledge.
She has a calmed tone of voice, uses hand and body language in a small manner and makes one or other joke.
Zach Leatherman — A CSS font pro. His talk: The Scoville Scale of Web Font Loading Opinions
His talk was very useful, he shared graspable tips about font settings, that are easy to apply in a project. His storytelling is a mix of tips and splits in terms of spicy food. His talk points and tips. His talk evolved as the spiciness level evolved.
“Edge on Chromium” Ask me anything with Christian Heilmann from Microsoft
In this session I saw a side of Christian that I did not see before. I remember the talks I saw from him containing interesting content, but with a confrontative tone which always made me feel uncomfortable. They gave me the perception he was an unapproachable man.
This time, I saw a totally different side, he was inviting, advocating for collaboration, and pointing out ideas from software development from an angle that felt fresh and relevant. From all the talks I saw, This is the one I felt I got things I can bring to my role of technical lead.
Disclaimer: I took these notes during the session, I tried to stay as close as possible at his answers. I will link the podcast session, so you can hear it.
Below you will find my notes of the questions and his answers.
Why did Microsoft choose chromium?
Browser vendors tend to develop non standard. As a company we want to allow businesses to upgrade, chromium allows that better and this puts us in an evergreen browser.
Moving to chromium allowed us to play better in open source and as it has less players is easier to have a voice in there.
We have more impact on the web if we joined the project that dictates the web, instead of trying to catch up.
How do they deal with old browsers?
The current edge will not exist will be replaced by the new one.
With IE: there are many businesses using it. They give them the chance to continue using ie rendering within edge. They offer different identities, so that they can switch engines.
Microsoft has contributed with performance and a11y in chromium for the browser and the dev tools.
They bring their views from working with businesses to chrome and improve things that already exist but where not well done because they focus on innovation.
Why not gecko?
Because they are too small, and that they need backport and automation that gecko does not have.
But you know what? seeing an engine die is something we did to ourselves by all of us choosing chrome. So, now that the web is as it is today, we need to adapt and make it better.
From Microsoft point of view, the fact that two companies work in chromium, brings to the project a different point of view that helps the project to keep close to the standards.
Microsoft wants to build the right things, for that they need diverse developers to make it better.
The idea of: “To make something better, you need to make it from scratch” does not work anymore. Nowadays we reuse components already available. We build upon what others have done.
We don’t want to compete we want to collaborate to make the engine strong, and be secure, accessible enough for the users while we still allow vendors to consume it and put their own UX to satisfy their needs.
He is tired of the battle among browsers, he thinks is better to collaborate.
There are other companies and participants within the chromium browser.What they are bringing is: standardization, they are betting on it actually.
They want to keep compatibility, we don’t want that chrome says where they go and everyone follows. Compatibility and standardization is very important.
My understanding: It looks as if Google’s focus is to bring in the cool new things and Microsoft focus is to ensure that the project keeps working, is not broken and is backwards compatible.
As Kubernetes evolved into the cloud foundation, could chrorium evolve beyond the borders of a company? The license of chrorium already allows it, Christain could see that things might evolve into that direction.
A booth worth to mention: Makuyuni.cologne
I did not interact that much with sponsors, however right before the end I got to know one of the persons behind this project. It is an organization that teams up with people in Tanzania to build a school.
Tantek Çelik — Open web advocate. His talk:
Take Back Your Web
This was the closing talk, and I must say, the message was pragmatic, easy to follow, easy to understand and was like the translation of this TED Talk from Carole Cadwalladr in actions that a developer can actively take.
It inspired me, and it felt on point, current and relevant.
He talked about how Facebook and similar companies are affecting and influencing opinions and dividing. Elections, etc. Below some of his tips:
He raised awareness of how personalization can go negatively.
Social networks like facebook create hooks that make us addicts, to the point that we are not used anymore to do nothing, We have the right to do nothing
Nothing can be uncomfortable
Maybe you should go for a walk instead of doing nothing
You can choose what to share if you have your own website and reference it somewhere else. Whatever.
You can use stuff like web mention to show likes on your own website, it is like a crowd protocol.
How to own your content:
He he is promoting indieWeb which stands for independent web
His tone is calm but active and makes a lot of pauses.
Using readers allows you to read the content in the web that you want and that you control.
As a developer you can use your own website as a means to learn new thing
Entry points to the indieWeb
My take: I would love to make in Cologne an indie web camp in form of an Unconference like he does.
What about the other talks?
I heard all of them were amazing, and I will watch them all as soon as they are available.
My overall impression.
Having lived the in and out of the conference, and meet the team behind it, they are doing a wonderful job, and Marc does a beautiful job. Yet he is an introvert, he is organizing an event that inspires and makes you start thinking on new different means to approach the web.
Not only that, the event is so diverse, people from minority groups come, and they feel welcomed. You see them with a smile on their face and empowered to go out there and bring all those new tools to their jobs.
I felt inspired, thank you volunteers team, Marc, Tania and Guido for welcoming me with open arms.
One more thing, all tech and logistics details were perfect.