Beyond Tellerrand — an event about web, dev, design (edition 2018)

Beyond Tellerrand is a great human experience to live, not only for people working in web or design, but for everyone. Let’s be honest, now more than ever, we need to renew ourself, to evolve, to adapt, to innovate. Beyond Tellerrand is the place to be if you need inspiration to learn how to think out of the box.

So it’s start pretty much like this:

Alex (colleague and friend)— We need to go to Beyond Tellerrand. I’ll go and I think you really should come too.
me— Hum cool.
Alex — It’s so great, you can drink beer with your favorite designers. Conferences are very interesting. It’s so inspiring.
me— Ok, cool.
Alex — The first evening, we empty fridges so every beers are free.
me— You know that I don’t drink alcohol, right?
Alex — Yes, but there’s a great japanese neighbourhood with a lot of restaurants and…
me — COUNT ME IN, SIR!

While we were in Düsseldorf, I talked about this specific conversation to Alex and about how I didn’t really understand what he was talking about when he mentioned data visualization, three.js and digital art. It was at a time we started BeCode so, in my opinion, our job was to teach how to create amazing websites to adults in only 6 months. For me, this mission was already pretty hard to do. Not impossible but not easy. But Alex didn’t let go on his ideas. And I think I know Alex enough now to know that if he’s passionate about something, there’s a pretty good reason. So I promised myself to find the key to understand his point of view. The selling point of the « restaurant » was just a cosmic bait to lead me to an epiphany.

A real road trip never goes as planned

Alex succeed to convince other people from BeCode to come with us. We organize the journey and planned to go to Düsseldorf.

I’m sure you saw a lot of road trip movies too. So you know that every road trip never goes as planned. So we had the car the day before. Our bags were packed. Everybody had their sunglasses. It was too perfect. The day of the departure, everyone is on time but my phone rang. « The car is not there anymore ». Wait, what? The car was parked in front of a store. At least we thought. The store wasn’t a store, it was a pretty cleaned garage. The car was taken by the pound. Great, so let’s go get back the car. « We can’t. The owner is at the other side of the planet ». So let’s take a train. Nope, it’s the annual period of strikes (lol), there’s no train. Let’s take a bus. Nope, bus don’t leave before tomorrow and we have to change too many time to arrive at destination. Last solution : the renting car.

7:30 AM. Renting car’s office open. We asked for our reserved car. « The car will be ready at 10 AM. » Yes, we tried to negociate but the guy at the renting car office is incorruptible. « 10 AM is 10 AM ».

10 AM. We were expected a new surprise like a new bomb alert, some crazy fucker who shoot people in the station, an alien invasion or (it was pretty close to me) stomach flu. But destiny was finally kind to us and let us take the road. 2 hours later, we were at Düsseldorf.

Let’s get the real shit started

We were just arrived at the Capitol Theater when a hostess gave us a cloth bag filled with a mug, a t-shirt, socks, books, pens, sickers,… There was a book in particular that catch my attention “24 Work Hacks… we wish we had discovered sooner” by Sipgate.

Collections of good practices to be put in place in a company for not taking dust

I still didn’t finished to read it but I already want to set up the good practices at BeCode for me and my interns and for me and my colleagues. Advice n°24 is « Drop In ». Instead of staying with the same people, Sipgate organize once a month an event where they invited renowned people and asked them to talk about something. External people are allowed to come as well and it helps having others point of view.
I remember before starting BeCode, me and three of my soon to be colleagues were invited to participate at a training to become trainers in France. I remember all the wonderfull ideas I wanted to steal and the others not so good ideas I noted to be very bad so we don’t waste time testing those shit. It was really informative. I like to keep in touch with my old trainers so we can discuss what’s working and what’s shitty and especially why. I think it would be great my interns would have the opportunity to meet other people too. (Like when they met my friend Yann. Yann thank you for passing by, you’re welcome whenever you want to come back ❤ )

Now things are starting to get serious

Super classy, right? Got your name, picture and twitter so people you meet knows who you are and you have the schedule inversely so you can pick an eye to see what’s coming next!

By the time we arrived, we missed The Dangers of being a web dev. Fortunately, as soon as the event Beyond Tellerrand is finished, every conference are available to watch on vimeo. I'm currently watching the video but I have to admit that it doesn't have the same impact on me than it would have been in live.

So to those who think it’s OK to watch the conferences on vimeo, I want you to know that you’re missing out on something essential. The staging is made for you to be immerged into the speech of the speaker. The atmosphere, the lights but most of all, the people that surround you, the complicit laughters of the audience make you realize that you’re not just a viewer, you’re part of it.

I think I wouldn't have watched the conference of Mike Monteiro until the end if I watched it on my computer. Yet, I will tell you later how much his intervention was emotionally intense and how it was important and needed to me.

From a crappy situation we can always take advantage

The first conference we were able to see was Vic Lee’s: « No effing Failure« . Vic starts by explaining to us how he began. He worked in agencies in some sort of classical way but then overwhelmed by projects he needed to take a break. Vic didn’t go on vacation. Vic took advantage of his time to rediscover the pleasure of drawing with felts.

Today, Vic is illustrator. He designs illustrations for office’s walls, for cities’ walls, for museum’s brochures,… He is the one who designs the 2018 Beyond Tellerrand illustration that is on the t-shirts that were given to us when we arrived.

He reminds me of Poppy Mili, the illustrator who decorated the walls of my classroom a year ago and who is also one of my friends.

Hacking programmed obsolescence

Beyond Tellerrand is an event that brings together several conferences. Outside the conferences, there are artists’ stands. The pictures you see above are pictures I made at Jean-Philippe Côté’s stand. Jean-Philippe is a Canadian programmer/artist. In Düsseldorf, he brought an old bike dating back to 1986 that was going to end up in the garbage. Jean-Philippe turned him into a portraitist.

The principle is simple: a camera takes your picture, a computer treats the image by contrast, then the old machine, armed with a felt pen, draws your portrait in the way of Chappie would have drawn.

Not bad for recovery gear!

Wesley Grubbs — that moment I finally understood Alex (part 1)

Wesley Grubbs’s conference was about the importance of being able to say « stop », to admit failure and most of all to learn from it. That’s why, it was called: The Importance of Failing Successfully. He also talked about his work in dataviz. And I finally understand why Alex insisted so much that we suggest some dataviz exercice to our interns. Because it’s also one of the many jobs in digital technology.

At BeCode, we are supposed to train web developer. But the way our curricula is made allow us to train people so they become project manager, community manager, testers, security developer, hacker, web designer, front-end dev, back-end dev, full-stack dev,… So yes, it makes sense to know dataviz and dataviz tools.

Plus, when it’s done well, it’s really beautifull. And as a popularization enthusiast, being able to make understand datas ou complicated principles with shapes and colors, dataviz is obviously something that I like.

Jared Tarbell’s cubes — that moment I finally understood Alex (part 2)

One of Jared Tarbell’s cube, given to the audience in limited number. The more brutal and fast you are, the luckier you were to get one. This one belongs now to Anthony, one of my colleague.

After the dataviz conference, the generative design conference gave me a second echo about Alex’s speechs. I was listenning to Jared and I realized I’ve already seen thoses things. I just never took the time to really look at them, to watch them for what they are: real works of art generated with simple rules, random and a computer. A few simple lines of code can create those beautiful shapes.

I know, I know. You want to ask « and so what about the cubes? » One day, Jared had the idea to realize his artwork IRL. Kids cabins, huts, cubes were created. Algorithm gave birth to a new digital and real art form. It’s so inspiring. What if, we too, we took the trouble to go further, to think beyond the real, outside the box, beyond tellerrand…

Out of the box

Usually, when we tak about design, we think about design web, interior design, but we rarely think about event design. Kate Dawkins create live performances. During her conference, she showed us her work on the Commemoration of the Third Battle of Ypres and explained her thoughts about the creation of the Fast and Furious Live show.

Claire L. Evans spoke about the place of women in the history of computer science and most of all how, without women, IT wouldn’t be what it is today.

Jan De Coster explained how came his passion for designing robots and about his thoughts about the consciousness of robots

A conference a little more focused on the code was presented by Miriam Suzanne. She evoked her own grid system (Suzy) but explains why today it is more relevant not to use a grid system

Where else can we talk about artificial intelligence, code, Fast and Furious and the history of computing the same day? Well now you know: Beyond Tellerrand.

How to build an atomic bomb, by Mike Monteiro

Fucking Mike Monteiro…

Before going on stage, he prowled in front of the front row and watched us. He already looked angry. During the conference, when people applauded or laughed, you could see clearly that he did not want to laugh, not want to be applauded. He wanted to wake people up, he wanted to share his frustration and pain due to all the things that revolted him. He wanted us to understand what he had understood a long time ago. I think he wanted to finally feel less alone in this ocean of cynicism and injustice.

I won’t tell you the story, just watch the video. But for my part, it reinforced me in my idea not to neglect the ethical questions with my interns. Speaking about it is absolutely necessary. Having debates about the news, the new laws, the Net Neutrality, GDPR, censorship, what we can do but we must not do,… we HAVE to talk about all those things at BeCode. As architects and web builders of today and tomorrow, we have an important responsibility. We have a duty, like every citizen, to act with humanity, with conscience, with ethics.

Design Ethics by Mike Monteiro.

Even his way of distributing this book was filled with emotion and principles. He was outraged that it’s always men who jumped to the stage to recover goodies. This time, he invited women to get up, to come and take a book. « The rest of you can fuck off and pay me for it », he added.

Everything is a question of ethics, choice, commitment. Nothing is insignificant.

Yes, but what about the food???

As I was saying at the beginning, we were super late, we hadn’t eaten, we were hungry as fuck. Among all the people, I would say that there was a lot of french speakers. You can be sure that the vast majority of them knows Alex ’cause Alex goes at Beyond Tellerrand for years now and he is so excited about the concept that he always try to convince everyone to come as well. People of BeCode now, but as he was working at the HEAJ before, people from HEAJ too (Hi Remy, how you doin’?). So we had just arrived and Alex is already surrounded by friends, who are hungry too. So yes, we went to Burger King.

Don’t judge me

At the end of the day, when the night has come and the sun was setting, restaurants were closing. Before leaving Brussels, I spotted a Japanese restaurant called Takumi on the Internet. Easy to remember, it is called as the restaurant in Ixelles where I like to go.

Düsseldorf’s Takumi is a wonder. We showed up at passed 10 pm, we found barriers, probably for people who lined up to get in. But at this time, a Monday, there was almost no one left. The dishes were succulent. It was great because it was Corentin’s birthday (one of my interns).

Takumi in Düsseldorf

I usually don’t eat breakfast. Nevertheless, when there’s a way to find free waffles with chocolate and free hot chocolate, I’m never too far. I was talking about artist stands, selling stands and stuff but you have to know that there were sponsors stands as well. It was Accenture who gave us hot beverages. Adobe XD fed us with waffles and gave us the opportunity to test its software. Publicis gave us a lot of pens so we could take notes during the conferences. Mozilla was there with stickers… I don’t remember everyone and everything but we were well surrounded.

Yes, we were spoiled.

Waffles offered by Adobe Xd and hot chocolat offered by Accenture at Beyond Tellerrand

TL;DR

If you’re bored in your life or in your work, if you’re afraid of always doing the same thing, if you just want to be inspired by people who have done « something else », if the bullshit talk about « success » pisses you off and that you want to hear real people talking about real things, come to Beyond Tellerrand.

Seriously, come.

Want some more?