HybridConf 2016

Late at night, in bed, I received a newsletter from codebar with a heading “Would you like to have a ticket for HybridConf in Berlin, 18th — 19th August?” The term ‘hybrid’ resonates with me, and I miss the city. I didn’t think about it too much and sent my application. I thought I’d be able to spend some days there beforehand, and the line-up already looked pretty exciting. Plus it’s Berlin. I could also visit Jan, who I met at ScotlandJS in 2015.

So I won a ticket | scream of joy |and enjoyed these few days as much as I could. I’ll tell you more about the different talks and why it naturally made sense. I arrived in Berlin two days before the conference and stayed in a cosy and inspiring place in Prenzlauer Berg. Amazingly two streets from where I used to live as an intern in a viral marketing agency. Zack and Laura sent us all the necessary details beforehand, and gave us access to their Slack channel to prepare us for our trip or get to know the other attendees. Living in Britain made me a coffee amateur so I instantly listed various coffee shops to wander to whilst in town. I really enjoyed my first cold brew at The Barn and this glass of real nectar at Happy Baristas. Plus a stop at 19 Elephants for a slice of cheesecake! I got all that I needed before even meeting any Hybrid people.

A pre-party was organised at BRLO Brewhouse in Schöneberg. It’s always hard for me to introduce myself — especially without any lanyard or signs. Mary was the first one to dare. How lucky was I — a product designer for better emails. Also an extremely talented illustrator! I had a few drinks and quickly met two members of the Hybrid team, Lauren and Andreas. Plus Florent, one of the attendees, always handy to talk French when you really want to. The excitement was growing and I already felt so energised by all of the different voices and projects. 
 — DAY ONE —

I bumped into Mary in the street. We were ready and awake. Excited for sure but craving caffeine. We sat two seats from the stage, not too far but close enough for us. The conference started with spontaneity. Alex Jegtnes gave his first (pocket) talk about losing bad habits. A great opener, I have added ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg to my reading list.

Up next Stewart Scott-Curran, from Intercom, who told us more about the power of human relationships, how it is important to design for the MANY, and not just the few. I also wrote other words in capital letters in my notebook : humility, empathy, diversity. The last one is DEBATE. It’s essential to combine our voices. 
Then Dan Edwards gave us an excellent reminder — the tool are better than ever. Design is not art. Really? Dan knows his craft! He encourages consistency and flexibility. And pattern libraries too. I’d like to recommend the work of Alla Kholmatova, who gave an amazing talk at ResponsiveConf last year. 
Cameron’s got a weird job and insisted on the fact that we have to constantly become beginners. Do you want to build something in the next few months? He made a pinball machine, from scratch, for his son. I’m thinking of fixing my bike and imagining the best outdoor pizza oven for next summer. 
Pete Thomas would rather be in the woods. A pocket talk about calm technology. The term was developed in the 90s by Mark Weiser and other researchers. A tea kettle is an excellent example : It can be set and forgotten, until it sings. It does not draw constant attention to itself until necessary. Oh, the second book on my list and it deals with non-intrusive design and its principles. You can also find Amber Case’s talks online
Yes, Mary is on stage and talks about side projects. A perfect question to ask to Hybrid attendees, your colleagues, or any creative person you got the chance to meet. I do so at each codebar session if I get a new mentor! You can find relations to one of yours. Mary keeps drawing and it’s on Instagram #100daysofmagicrealism.

I’m reading through my notes, it looks like I was as anxious as Joel at different stages of my life. Am I doing the right thing? Attending Hybrid was the right choice, no doubt! This talk helped me focus on my (growing) list of things I want to learn. I was a community manager, a trainer, a growth hacker. I am now a musician / barista. As a child, I wanted to be an oceanographer or a art gallery owner. Now, I want to be a UX researcher. Joel, I’m sure it can keep me up until 5am. 
Spot on, Casey! I’m an impostor. We’re all impostors. It takes time to be able to ask for help… I also agree — writing is one of the best therapies! 
The remotiest workflow…. I wish I could have met Justine Arreche and Lisa Passing earlier. When I was experiencing life as a French remote worker, based in England and communicating with colleagues from Portland / New York to Helsinki. Developers on my left, designers on my right. I never thought to sync up working hours for more overlap, and enjoy meal times with the rest of the team. Personalities and cultural differences play such an important part in our everyday lives. And yes, you start a collection of screenshots of Slack conversations. It takes some extra (extra extra) time to express yourself, explain without judgement. Asking questions was not natural at all, but it was the best way to maintain the right space to grow and learn within a distributed team. Thanks again for this inspiring talk, I went away and spent a couple of hours reading in more depth about second-language acquisition!

Ashley Baxter is here to talk about her journey with Jack. We could feel in her voice , that it was hard. She shared so much of her journey. She reminded us how cutting corners and lacking focus can be dangerous for not only your business but yourself too. It’s essential to keep control over the design and the technology, and learn to say no to the unimportant. She also presented the concept of the dip, these remaining 20% of the decisions: quit or commit? This momentum is, according to her, should be used to measure how serious, engaged we are. My dad also runs an insurance business — and the evolution of this sector became more interesting while I was growing up/old, traveling, working abroad, as a creative person. Def check out Jack!

Stevyn Colgan did the last talk — a storyteller that knows how to take action. 
This first day was so intense. No bowling tournament for me. I needed some time off for my feet & mind.

— DAY TWO — 
Familiar faces. Smiles all round. Half-closed eyes. A caffeinated fix, and we’re back. 
I was really excited for Jess’s talk. She shared with us how she learnt to draw. Specifically autoportraits. She discussed how drawing can reveal the unseen, the intangible. She also described the work and process of three international artists: Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusamo and Ai Wei Wei. She recalls — through these examples — the importance of collaboration and humanisation. Our inner voices. 
Robert Stulle shared with us the life of the agile agency, called Edenspiekermann. Such a mindset improved the way they work with their clients. I’ve always been fascinated by scrum boards: to do, doing, review, done. He also focused on values such as transparency & trust, autonomy, mastery & purpose. Can’t wait to sit on one of their sofas, and listen to them about their latest projects in different languages. 
Jojo Hedaya, founder of unroll.me, is right — everyone starts somewhere and has to believe in what s/he’s doing. He basically transformed email management. He emphasised that it’s even better if you find the right parters, in order to constantly be inspired. Self-motivation is also part of the ‘trial & error’ adventure. 
Laura Laugwitz explained her view of empowerment. Marginalised groups can empower themselves to build the tools they need, encourage collaboration and change the structure of how things work in the society. I wrote two words bigger : love + intention

Trent opened the door of the indie game world and his life building the digital board game Armello with a remote team. They decided to use a point system to foster collaboration. I also really liked his conclusions from this growing experience, such as the necessity to leverage your own strengths and that every victory must be celebrated.
Helena also had a disposable camera and didn’t worry about what others were doing. She picked a thing — photography — and 100% committed. I thought of some of friends, freelancing in this field, and that sounds right: make the work you want to be hired for, get out and meet people. Treat success as temporary and use your skills to do good in the world. I was honoured to see her and please do experience/share her project: Techies

Luke, from Siberia brought us in the world of robots…. and Doc Waller beyond certain emotions — tears and laughs. 
What did we do next? Share a couple of beers at Pratergarten. Photographs, drawings, business cards. Sparkling eyes.

So full of hope on my way back to the airport. On a train.
Thanks so so so much codebar, especially Kim and Charlotte. And a huge special mention to Hybrid organisers Zack & Laura! I keep working on my main side projects and I’m about to apply for a new job / enroll in a design course. I walked away with a good pile of books and workshops already planned by the end of the year.

I’m proud to be hybrid.
P.S: I will come back to Berlin to explore the coffee scene more and talk UX while eating a yummy ice-cream sandwich. Are you in? Give me a shout!

P.P.S A special thank you getmulticolour for donating the tickets to codebar, you made 3 people extremely happy. From the codebar team :)