Today’s comic continues the storyline started by the last episode in a display of continuity rarely tolerated here. It continues the celebration of my attendance at An Event Apart: Seattle by showcasing many of the speakers of that groundbreaking event: Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Aarron Walter, Jared Spool, Luke Wroblewski, Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Cederholm. Also making a noteworthy appearance is Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Mindfly Web Studio co-worker Janae.
It also is my response to Jeremy Keith’s challenge (made at the event) to create an icon for “Push to Dispense Free Cheese.” I dare anyone else out there to do better.
No, really. I want to see that.
For the past couple of years I’ve followed the going-ons of An Event Apart through the Twitterscape. The inaugural comic of CSSquirrel featured AEA: New Orleans 2008 (and Andy Clarke’s underpants.) This year was the first opportunity I had to attend in person. It blew me away.
Let’s start with the speakers. They are top notch, cream of the crop, cutting-edge members of our website-making industry. They aren’t just paving cow paths (HTML5 philosophy notwithstanding). They’re kicking down the door of the future and lighting up places we’ve never been before. Even better, they’re sharing these cutting-edge thoughts with the rest of us.
I am fully incapable of transcribing in a single blog post what I learned there. It took me eight hours of working alongside Janae to figure out how to compress this information into what became four hours of presentation for our esteemed Mindfly colleagues, and that was with access to informative slides. So instead, let me point you towards some online writings that sum up the event and the lore contained within:
As awesome as the speakers were, another amazing component of the conference was the attendees. I live in lovely Bellingham, WA. It’s about two hours north of Seattle, is nicely sandwiched between mountains and the bay, and is a great place to live. It is not, however, literally crawling with web designers in the same fashion as large cities like Seattle or New York. So to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of invested, devoted website-making peeps is a heady experience. With people coming from design studios, universities like UW, and even sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, it made for a great opportunity to talk shop with people of all different web design backgrounds.
At some point in the recent past I saw someone ask on Twitter if it was worthwhile to pay for a conference for information they could get later on a blog. I can say for certain that yes, it is. There is a quantity of data being that is shared in live meetings that any attempt by myself or others to fully regurgitate in writing is incapable of matching. Speakers absorb earlier comments by their fellows, incorporating ideas into their own presentations. Crowds at lunch and after-parties discuss the merits of the ideas discussed, bringing the focus of several hundred minds to the same issues in one short period of time. Friends known online become real concrete people with a firm handshake, a booming laugh, and other qualities that engrave the real feel of who they are.
Note to self: I forgot to actually acquire one of Dylan Wilbank’s excellent business cards. Dang it.
There’s one more comic that will finish this year’s AEA storyline. But knowing the quality of this event, having finally experienced it firsthand, I can tell you it won’t be the last time AEA gets the squirrel treatment.
Meyer, Zeldman and everyone else that made my two days in Seattle so awesome: Thank you.