@media 2009 Day 1 – Afternoon

Not providing lunch at the conference was perhaps a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, Wagamamas is just so close (mmm… chicken katsu curry); on the other hand, lots of people were nodding off in the warmth of the first session.

Which is a great shame, because Dan Rubin is a really good speaker (and singer, as it happens). His session was all about reflecting the real world in our user interfaces in order to make them much more usable. It was also about taking real items and using them in designs (such as real textures from scanned objects) because of the much better emotive affect that has with our users. It was pretty inspiring, even though at the end of the day everything he talked about should be common sense.

And then… Mark Boulton. Wow! There’s a man who’s passionate about his specialism, and his specialism is typography. Even though it wasn’t a technical session I learned bucket loads of stuff during his session which talked around the area of, whilst not dipping into the how-to of embedding type with web pages in those browsers which support it. A very key point he raised had not occurred to me: to work successfully in the web environment, fonts must have more glyphs in them to cover multi-language issues, and must have lots of hinting information in them to work at varying sizes on the screen. The upshot of those needs is a big font, and that raises issues of download time, potentially rendering content in a default typeface then re-rendering when the embedded one loads and lots of other questions which I personally think underline the technology as being very young. I’m very interested to see how that all develops and I’m certain that Mark will be a big voice in the forthcoming discussions.

Now we’re outside, enjoying the sun and, ironically, cooling off a little – it was quite warm in the Purcell Rooms. It’s hot out here too, but there’s a lovely cool breeze.

One of the things about blogging is that you can’t see the lovely cut scene. Imagine a fade to black. Our hero attends the final session. Fade back for the finale.

Jason Santa Maria does some really compelling work. He delivered a very eloquent session about approaching design, using grids, finding inspiration in lots of things, sketching through ideas and finally typography. It was a really good session for me.

Which is interesting, because I seem to have said that about all the sessions. I think there’s a great deal of mileage in the idea of a small conference with carefully picked presenters who deliver content which is all about areas of thought in an industry or subject area., Huge conferences mean you are pulled between different sessions in multiple tracks. I really like the simplicity of the small, one track conference where thought has been put in to the content and how it flows. that’s @media and that’s why I like it.

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