This was my first big conference, thus do not look for comparisons with SxSW and other events. There are probably plenty of people that will do that. I just want to briefly summarize my impressions.
Organization was great. Registration was nicely organized, small queues, with cheerful fellow getting people to the appropriate points. The catering and the food itself - both lunch and cookies - were superb. Really tasty, warm and cute. There were no tables to seat down though, which was not that big of the problems. The floors are clean, thus everyone just sat down and ate their meal.
The sound was perfect (apart from one part of Håkon’s presentation), both from speakers and attendees asking questions using a wireless mic. I don’t believe a better job could have been done there.
Presentations were good and interesting. Most speakers use Macs, thus Keynote ruled here, with Hakon using HTML and Opera’s projection mode - as you would expect from the Opera’s CTO. With english not being my native language, I did not have problems following anything - except Joe Clark’s presentation. He speaks so quickly and seems to use so much references that I had a hard time understanding anything. Add the fact that there were no slides shown - only examples for the topic he covered…well I left before the end.
I also had to miss Mark Boulton’s presentation which I’m really sorry about. However, I had a previously arranged meeting with Sony repair engineer. My laptop’s CPU fan was failing and had to be replaced. I spent 3 days trying to convince Sony phone support that it was not a software problem and thus repair underwent during the conference. We were quite a sight in the hallway - entire laptop in pieces because damn fan is screwed from under the motherboard. It took an hour to get it done and the guy was really quick at that. Piecing all back together went without a hitch, with just a BIOS in/out needed.
…and how I see them.
Joe Clark is really funny and sharp. He looks like like Mr. Bin (Rowan Atkinson) so much and makes almost identical faces at times that the Hot Topics panel at the end was really fun. Jeremy Keith is great panel lead, witty and always in charge. Jason Santa Maria gives of an impression of the Master Designer. The attitude, the way he speaks about design process, all the steps he takes during that - a Master. Intimidating to approach, although I guess it might not be that case in reality.
Dan Cederholm is a complete contrast - much more down-to-Earth guy. I could completely recognize myself in he way he explains his design process. The “I just enter the Photoshop, play around a lot and usually something comes up from it after a while” approach. :)
Jon Hicks is great - his talk about the ways of sucking up the creative bits from all kinds of places was entertaining and useful. Jesse James Garrett is a veteran who gave a very inspiring talk which immediately drove me to mock-up interfaces and user experiences for a betting search for the company’s sites.
A highlights for me were presentations by Hannah Donovan from Last.fm and Simon Willison about local sites for Lawrence, Kansas. I always like to read/hear case-studies and these two were great examples. Hannah is beautiful too, thus it was a double pleasure - to listen and to look. ;) She was also the only speaker I heard that said “fucked”, “screwed” and “sucks” in the space of 25mins. “Sucks” repeatedly :)
Let me not forget Simon Collison and Drew McLellan and their funny shoot-out - really joyful presentation. The best moment was when Drew was “bashing” designers and just at the moment when Jason Santa Maria entered the hall he put up a quote from him as an example of designer lies. :) Great timing.
Andy Clarke is a rock star. When you see him, the way he speaks, walks, the casual suits he wears - an image of British rock star. His presentation was the most…hm, philosophical. Interesting topic none the less. one I never thought about. Is there a country or region specific web design? Can web design even be influenced by traditional design of, say, France or Italy?
On that topic - what would be Serbia’s specific design history? The fact that I have no idea and that I work as web designer for 10 years is probably the best answer to his question. I believe that majority of web designers are not art history students and art school students. As such, they can’t know what would design heritage be and thus can’t relive it on the web. At least I would not know. I always looked at someone’s design as personal, not part of a movement or part of the world.
It was a worthwhile visit, with lots of creative stuff to be heard. I would love to visit next year, will see how that goes.