d.Construct 2006: a second feedback

The programme at d.Construct left hardly any spare time, so filling in a feedback form far before the end of the conference did not make much sense. But we had to, otherwise we didn’t take part in the contest. So here’s a quick wrap-up, which can be considered to be my final feedback for d.Construct. Let’s start with the top issues and end with the horrors:

++

  • Jeffrey Veen’s talk on Designing the complete user experience was again a splendid performance. He alone was worth the entry fee for this conference.
  • Derek Featherstone’s examples of real life accessiblity problems with simple user interfaces compensated a lot the interesting (but accessibility neglecting) speeches on AJAX and Flash.
  • Yahoo! idea of ‘hack day’ (presented by Simon Willison and Paul Hammond) is an absolutely interesting concept for other internet companies too.
  • The backnetwork (only accessible by attendees) was excellent. Well done!
  • Brighton is a perfect location for web conferences. Not that far from airports and meanwhile sunny, beachy, interesting and alternative.
  • Serving tea with milk! This is one of the greatest shortcomings of the Netherlands.

+

  • The talks on AJAX and mash-ups definitely triggered me. Being an accessibility advocate myself, I’m normally not that interested in trendy technics that break the usebility or accessibility experience. Now, I’m sure to try out some things. As Jeremy stated “just because the joy of it”.
  • Meeting other attendees is always interesting. I talked to PPK on his new book and we came to the idea that in the Netherlands we are in need of a mash-up that compares book prices of different Amazon shops (USA, UK, Germany), including their shipping fee.

  • Jeff Barr’s talk on Amazon’s web services was totally useless, being nothing more than an ordinary sales talk on Amazon’s activities. Clear:left apparently needed the money?
  • It would have been very convenient if the organisation had handed out some paper to make notes on. As blogging was nearly impossible, ordinary hand written notes came to the rescue.

– –

  • The conference centre Brighton Corn Exchange, ouch, is not a conference centre! There was so little space between the chairs that my legs still hurt and I didn’t know where to put my arms. Working on a laptop of course was impossible, even if there had been more light. I suppose there hasn’t been a lot of blogging during the day. Tip: choose something like a university auditorium for the conference?
  • There were no power supplies available in the conference room, so unless you brought in three spare batteries, your laptop would have run out of service during the first or second session. As mentioned above, blogging was hardly possible, so this is just a tip for next year. I definitely will not come back next year if these last two points won’t be solved properly.

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2 reacties »

  1. Andy Budd said

    Thanks for the honest and open feedback. Let me briefly touch on some of your points.

    We invited Jeff Barr to speak becasue we think Amazon are doing some really interesting things in the field of APIs. Some people thought his talk was a little too marketing oriented and I would tend to agree. However others thought it was one of the best talks of the day, so I guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Whether you enjoyed the talk or not, it is important to note that all our speakers are chosen on merit. We do not accept sponsorship in exchange for a speaking slot and turned down several well known sponsors for just that reason.

    I agree that a notepad would have been useful for those people without a laptop, and we’ll definitely suggest it to our sponsors next year. However as a web developer conference, we assumed the majority of people would be taking notes on their laptop and live blogging the event. Their was FREE WiFi on the day, although some people did experience problems trouble getting a connection during the morning sessions.

    Sadly the nature of the venue meant it was impossible to supply power outlets to all the seats. Because of this we set up a sizeable laptop charging station in the tea and coffee area, which proved very popular between sessions. Bringing a spare battery would definitely make sense. However if your laptop is only getting a maximum of an hour and a half battery life, you probably want to think about getting a new battery.

    You are correct that the venue wasn’t a dedicated conference facility and that seating was a little cramped. Unfortunately dedicated conference centres are very expensive and would have almost doubled the cost of entry. As d.Construct is a low-cost, grassroots event, it is extremely important for us to keep costs down and make the event as affordable as possible. We could have used a university auditorium, but both universities are far enough out of town to have made transport and lunch problematic. Also Universities in the UK tend not to let you install or use WiFi, which is a significant issue for a tech conference.

    We felt that the Corn Exchange’s central location–within walking distance of Brighton station and numerous eateries–made it the optimal venue for our event. If the lack of legroom proves to have been a significant problem, we may consider doing away with the tiered seating next year. However flat seating obviously has its own issues such as a restricted view from the back of the auditorium.

    I’m sorry that that lack of power outlets by your seat and slightly cramped conditions may put you off coming back next year. However please do put these issues in the context of the low cost and grassroots nature of the event.

  2. Thank you very much for your open and extended answer, Andy!

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