PHP NorthEast and a couple of Podcasts

I’ll be speaking at PHP NorthEast (a PHP and UX conference) next week in Boston, providing the closing keynote. The opening keynote is Steve Krug, so, uh, no pressure, right?

I believe there are still tickets available, so come on by and say hi to me.

If you want an idea of the sort of things I’ll be chatting about, you might want to listen to an interview I recorded with Jen Kramer a couple of weeks back.

Also, I forgot to mention that Matthew Sheret and I recorded a show with CivicCast a couple months ago, talking about GDS and Design Principles. Find Episode 1 on their website to listen to it.

April recap – TXJS & Front-Trends

April was pretty decent. I got to attend two very good conferences and I got to speak at them.

TXJS, Austin, USA

Austin! One of my favourite cities (mostly because I love tacos). Was very pleased to be asked to return to this conference after I spoke there last year. The day was remarkable, if only because it’s one of the first conferences in a very long time where I actually watched all of the talks (although Rebecca, being on before me, may have only had half of my attention). Really a very well curated day, and I felt very lucky to be in the line-up.

Alex was not overly prescriptive in what I should talk about, but suggested he liked the content of last year and would like a little more on that. So, I decided to pick an aspect about that that I felt was important to us at GDS and fundamental to the success of our Design Principles.

For me, it’s been our honesty and simple language. The words that we’ve used to talk about user needs, technical aspects of the site and the ethos have been plain and no-nonsense. I think this is hugely down to the strength of a team that has the confidence to cut through bullshit and say what it really means – Russell and Sarah are particularly brilliant at this, and have had huge parts to play in getting this cult of simple down in writing.

The tech scene is sort of rife with nonsense words. Buzzwords and clichés and the new name for the next big thing, which is actually the new name for the same old sensible thing – but with better marketing and a twitter hashtag. Ugh. I want a lot less of that in our world.

So, I picked on a few of these and showed a few examples from how we’re dealing with them at GDS. I believe the video for that talk is out now, but the slides are here.

Front-Trends, Warsaw, Poland

I attended this conference last year – definitely a favourite for its surprisingly sunny weather and for being one of the most friendly events I had been to in 2012. So, I was really glad to get to come back and share our Design Principles with the crowd.

It was very similar to the talk I gave at TXJS last year, except we’ve done a whole lot more at GDS since June of last year – we released v1.0 of gov.uk, and a bunch of other stuff like the performance platform, Inside Government (and the 24 departments) and foreign travel advice, to name a few. I showcased some of these things, and then went through the design principles with the lovely, receptive, Polish audience and it seemed to go over rather well. The slides for this version of the talk are here.

Three days are a lot for a conference, but it was really high quality through-out and the breadth of subjects was really great. I wouldn’t recommend putting the party on the second night again, however – that last morning was something of a challenge. :)

SXSWi 2011 Microformats panel

It is that time of year again: SXSWi panel pimpage! I’ve put together a somewhat vague panel proposal on behalf of microformats.org and I would appreciate it if you could give it a vote.

Apparently voting only counts towards a relatively small percentage (30%) of whether or not it will be selected, but with 2346 proposals in the system, I suspect it counts a lot more than that.

The session is rather vaguely defined because I’m not really sure right now what’ll still be interesting in a few months. I also want to garner as many opinions from the community as they can about what they want to know more about, see speak or show off – so do make your voice heard in the comments.

SXSW submissions are a bit nuts, really.

The mega-conference happens in March every year. By the time you’re done clearing your credit card bill and the fuss on twitter has died down a few weeks after the event, it’s already time to submit proposals for the coming year with the deadline at the start of July.

That means you need to think about your proposal a good 9 or 10 months before the next event.

In my mind, it’s incredibly difficult to predict what will be a hot topic or really relevant 10 months down the line in an industry like ours. Things move incredibly quickly. I also find it very difficult to know what to vote for – I may find at the beginning of next year that actually, I really could have done with knowing more about The Latest Technique, but right now I don’t know what it is to vote for it.

I also worry that interesting topics that I don’t know about yet don’t have the community around it to rally support and get the votes. Inevitably, the topics that are most trendy or have the most well-known organisers/panelists will be the topics that get the most votes. They tend not to be the panels I’ve enjoyed the most, though. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly hard to figure out which sessions are going to be great and which aren’t, since SXSW is just so big now – I think it has become quantity over quality. </ complain>

Anyway, not a lot I can do about that other than play along and attempt to include a session that I will attempt to put together at a level that I deem acceptable quality. I do want to see microformats.org have a representation there, so help me out, huh?

p.s. The spelling of the tag “microformats” as “micoformats” is not mine. It’s theirs. And I asked to have it corrected, but apparently their system doesn’t easily allow for that at the moment. WTF?

London Web Standards – slides and further info

Sorry for the delay, but I finally got around to sticking my presentation from last month’s London Web Standards meet-up on slideshare. Slideshare is a bit naff to be honest, but it’ll do for now. If you click through to the talk on slideshare, you’ll be able to get my notes which should hopefully make the pictures more useful. Jake‘s busy syncing up both of our presentations to the videos so that we can show them on the BBC developer blog, so as soon as they’re available I’ll link those up too and you can view me in full hand-flapping, ranting form.

I think I speak for both of us when I say that we really enjoyed the evening – everyone was lovely and friendly and asked really excellent questions. Highly recommendable meet-up, and we’re both intending to try and make it to some of the future sessions.

Some useful links from my stuff:

London Web Standards Talks

Jake and I will be guests at March’s London Web Standards meetup. We’re giving a pair of JavaScript themed talks that should give plenty of fodder for the latter half of the evening’s discussion. I’m doing “Pro bun-fighting“, covering how we manage working on a large scale JavaScript project with a small team, our process, the performance and quality testing we do, and how to integrate group hugs, and Jake will be doing “The events left behind“, talking about the horrors of keyboard events, how to work around them and what’s their future.

Although it’s not a Glow specific talk, we will be using Glow in our examples, so feel free to come along and talk to us about the library too, if you’re interested.

Tickets are available now for the event on Wednesday 31st March at The Square Pig in London.

(19 + me) x 2

20×2 is an ongoing project that exists to showcase the creativity that lurks in each of us. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, web geeks and other bon vivants are asked to take two minutes each to answer the question of the day. The results can be as varied as the emotions and reactions they evoke.

20×2 is coming to London next month, and I’ve been invited to do a spot! It’s probably a moment of insanity on my part to agree to do it, but it is only 2 minutes, and I did say I wanted to do more “things”.

Basically, 20 people are each given the same question and fill a 2 minute slot based upon this question, and you can do or say whatever you like!

This session’s question is “Where Am I?”. I don’t have the foggiest idea what to do yet – so I’m taking suggestions. What do you think?

20×2 is going to be in London on the 19th November at Madame JoJo’s in Soho.