Web Directions Conferences for web and digital professionals

Why speak at a conference?

Yesterday we opened CFPs for all our 2019 conferences. So I thought it made sense to talk a little more about why you should consider doing so. But let’s first address the objections people have, the reasons we find not to speak or even contemplate it. But I’m terrified of public speaking First it is […]

Speaking at a Web Directions event in 2019

While we only just wrapped up our 2018 events, we’re well into planning next year’s conferences. So, our calls for presentations for all our 2019 events are now open. We have 4 major events, Design, Code and Product in Melbourne, and then Summit in Sydney, which in 2019 will feature a separate Product Track, alongside […]

Web Directions Summit ’18 Wrapup

Since 2006 Web Directions has grown considerably, What was once a single event is now a family of related conferences across the year. But the essence of Web Directions is our annual, end of year event we now call Web Directions Summit. This year we returned to the Convention Centre in Sydney, which was our […]

The Meetup Muster returns for Summit ’18

Last year, long overdue, we added a new feature to our annual Summit, the Meetup Muster. The Meetup Muster was a cool addition to the event, introducing people to a range of Sydney’s tech meetups (SydCSS, SydJS, React Sydney, SydTechLeaders, SydPWA, Tech Talks). Many people come to conferences but don’t tap into the amazing meetup […]

Our Second Annual AI Conference

Last year when we held our first, very successful AI conference, not a few people scratched their heads and asked “why is Web Directions holding an AI conference“. Very often AI and Machine Learning are associated with complex technical specialisation (and this is certainly required for a lot of work with AI and ML). But […]

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

So much of the energy and focus in our industry is on the what and how: on design, on the technologies we use, on business strategy, on tactics. Yet as legendary management thinker Peter Drucker (reportedly) said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Drucker’s point is that if your organisational culture isn’t healthy, whatever else you […]

A brand new Web Directions Site

The earliest snapshot at the wayback machine for webdirections.org is from early 2006. April 13, 2006 to be precise. A simpler time. Some staples of the time include text rendered as an image (no doubt with some funky image replacement technique–ask your grandparents about those kids!), links to multiple versions of RSS! Tiny text (text […]

Future proof yourself at Web Directions Summit.

If you’ve been in the industry any length of time, you’ll know how essential it is to keep your knowledge up to date, and how much work that can be. One of our key goals with our events is to help attendees do just that, and as always this year’s Summit features keynotes, design and […]

Conference presentation videos are broken. Part I

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Very few organisers create a sustainable financial basis for their events – most of them are built on monumental, admirable, highly stressful volunteer efforts, and the risk organisers take that they'll cover their event costs. Do videos really benefit these organisers? From our perspective, we've had hundreds of thousands of views of videos from our conferences on YouTube (which even if we'd turned on advertising would have generated very little money) and yet we'd be hard pressed to demonstrate this brings any benefit in terms of future attendance at our events. And presenting is hard. A solid presentation is dozens or hundreds of hours work, built on top of thousands of hours spent developing expertise. No one is close to adequately compensated for these efforts. Which is why even speakers in high demand almost always do the same presentation numerous times. Just as most events exist because of the significant volunteer efforts of their organisers, they also exist because speakers volunteer their time and expertise. Do videos benefit speakers? Sure there's a bit of exposure (you know what they say about exposure and putting food on the table) - you can send potential conference organisers to your presentation (though this days many conferences have anonymous calls for presentations, minimising their value from that perspective). But the benefits, in return for the enormous efforts and expertise, are nebulous at best. It is easier to argue that industry professionals benefit (as do as the people who employ them, lots of free world class education!) But this benefit may be more illusory than first appears. With little financial incentive to prepare new talks with any great frequency, how much of their expertise is left untapped? And as organisers will typically want a number of more established speakers to draw attention to their event (who are most likely to be delivering a presentation they're already presented before) the opportunities for new speakers, with new perspectives and presentations to find an audience, and then be recorded, are more limited. This has troubled me for years (in addition to organising conferences I've spoken not infrequently, and also attend conferences). Surely there must be a better way? A way in which speakers and organisers can be better compensated, with the flow-on benefits of unlocking more of the expertise of existing speakers, opening up opportunities for new speakers, and providing incentive and compensation for organisers who provide the platform for recordings to take place. A true win-win-win. Not only have I been thinking a lot about this, we've been working on what we feel is a solution here at Web Directions. Stay tuned as we'll be letting you know more about this in the very near future. We're pretty excited to show you what we've been working on." ["post_title"]=> string(49) "Conference presentation videos are broken. 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So I thought it made sense to talk a little more about why you should consider doing so. But let's first address the objections people have, the reasons we find not to speak or even contemplate it.

But I'm terrified of public speaking

First it is important to acknowledge that many people find it highly challenging to stand in front of an audience and speak. While for whatever reason, this is not an anxiety that has caused me significant difficulty, I do have many others, so it's not that I am unable to empathise with how folks might feel about the idea. I know many accomplished, high profile speakers in our industry who are still consumed by nerves before speaking. And over time and with experience, the fears definitely diminish. So let's acknowledge the reality, but leave aside the concern. Don't fall at this first hurdle. Yiying Lu speaking at Web Directions Summit 2018, photo credit JJ Halans

But I'm not a world expert

There's an old joke about snowboard instructors, that they're just one lesson ahead of you. Which is very unfair, but speaks to I think an often overlooked aspect of good teachers, explainers and communicators. I studied mathematics at university. I have a passion for mathematics, but in all honesty no great aptitude. Over the course of my undergraduate degree, I would have had perhaps 30 or more lecturers (we'll leave aside the fact that every single one was a man). Of those 30, precisely two (the first I ever had, and more or less the last) were not terrible teachers (though I am sure tremendous mathematicians). The standard mode of teaching was simply to write long proofs on blackboards (look them up) over the course of an hour. The mathematically adept in the class I'm sure lapped it up. The rest of the class often sat bewildered, as once we lost the thread, it was very hard to pick it up again. Years later as I started teaching adults, in classrooms, but also through writing, although I was far less adept at my content than these mathematicians were at mathematics, I felt I did a better job, and realised it was in many ways because I was less adept. I could appreciate the things that were difficult to understand about learning a technology–and because the technologies were often relatively new to me (typically because they were new to everyone), I could still recall the stumbling blocks, the things that tripped me up. Which is a long winded way of saying, not being the world expert on a technology is in many ways an asset, not a liability.

So why do it?

There are numerous reasons, some obvious, some perhaps less so.

It helps you

First, when you present on something, it really helps, indeed forces you to explore the things you don't know about it. Why does that work that way? What are its limitations? You'll get to known area, a technique, a practice, a technology, far better, in a much more systematic way. It also helps you professionally by raising your profile. Even speaking at a local meetup will put you in front of many potential employers, future colleagues and collaborators and just like minded peers.

It helps your employer

As you no doubt are aware, the market for talented engineers, designers, product people and others in our industry is very tight. When you stand up and speak, you will often be associated with your employer. You'll show it is an interesting place to work, where in future they may be able to work with people like you. (BTW employers: if an employee of yours has the opportunity to speak, if nothing else don't make them take holiday time to go and in essence represent you! I hear his story far too often and it is extraordinarily short sighted).

It helps our industry

We are still an emerging industry, with a long tradition of informal education, and the sharing of knowledge and expertise in many ways. Our fields continue to evolve rapidly, and one way to help that happen well is to speak on your work, and share your expertise with your peers.

OK I'm sold, how do I start?

Write First

I've found often the best way to start is to write–perhaps a blog post, maybe on medium. Get your ideas down. Share them with a few folks. We've found more than a few speakers for our conferences from posts we've read. It helps shape your ideas, you can always go back and edit, and for many it's less daunting than standing in the spotlight on a stage!

Brown bags

Brown bag lunches (a term I think used more in the US than elsewhere) are informal presentations over lunch typically in a workplace. They give folks the chance to get some experience, and share their ideas with their colleagues. If your company doesn't do something like this, perhaps you might start one up!

Meetups

Meetups are numerous in most cities these days, and will frequently be looking for speakers. Start by getting along (there'll typically be free food and a drink or two too) and get a sense of what they talk about and the sort of style and vibe they have, then say hi to the organisers, thank them (they'll always appreciate that) and suggest a topic!

Take a Course

Why not take a course? People aren't born speakers as much as we might think it's an innate skill–they're made. Toast Masters is a global group dedicated to helping people "become more effective communicators and leaders". There are groups all over the world. If you're in Sydney, our very good friends Public Speaking for Life (we've run courses with them to help people develop their speaking skills) run courses and workshops, and will come into your workplace and train a group of colleagues.

Propose for a conference

Take the plunge and submit to a Call for Presentations. Many conferences, even some of the most high profile take many if not all their speakers from these proposals. PaperCall has a huge list of open CFPs.

Speak at Web Directions

Did we mention CFPs are now open for all our 2019 conferences? We've helped hundreds of people take their first speaking steps and further their career on stage and it is a source of enormous pride for us. We'd love to hear your proposal." ["post_title"]=> string(26) "Why speak at a conference?" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(25) "why-speak-at-a-conference" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-11-16 12:37:45" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-16 01:37:45" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8738" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#1068 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8731) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-11-15 11:46:22" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-15 00:46:22" ["post_content"]=> string(2114) "While we only just wrapped up our 2018 events, we're well into planning next year's conferences. So, our calls for presentations for all our 2019 events are now open. We have 4 major events, Design, Code and Product in Melbourne, and then Summit in Sydney, which in 2019 will feature a separate Product Track, alongside the traditional Design and Engineering Tracks. In addition, we have 3 one day leadership/culture focussed events, Design Leaders, Code Leaders and Culture. So, there's plenty of opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with our audience of your peers. Below you'll find the dates for when each CFP closes, starting with late January for Design, but we keep an eye on proposals as they come in, and proposing early certainly doesn't hurt your chances. You can also make multiple proposals! We highly recommend you pay attention to the details on our speaking page, which outline the sort of presentations that typically do well at our events. So start planning what you'd like to present, then let us know, and we look forward to hearing your proposals! " ["post_title"]=> string(42) "Speaking at a Web Directions event in 2019" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(42) "speaking-at-a-web-directions-event-in-2019" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-11-15 11:46:22" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-15 00:46:22" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8731" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [2]=> object(WP_Post)#1067 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8712) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-11-09 09:26:13" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-08 22:26:13" ["post_content"]=> string(2364) "Since 2006 Web Directions has grown considerably, What was once a single event is now a family of related conferences across the year. But the essence of Web Directions is our annual, end of year event we now call Web Directions Summit. This year we returned to the Convention Centre in Sydney, which was our home from 2007 until it closed for redevelopment in 2013. We've finally made it back after it reopened, and it was a wonderful homecoming. Many of the attendees I spoke with had come to Web Directions South (as it was then called) at the convention centre, and while it is radically remodelled, there was the sense that the atmosphere of the event–collegiate, warm, welcoming, full of enthusiasm for what people do in our industry harked back to the earlier Web Directions events. It was wonderful to see so many people who have been coming for many years, as well as hundreds of new faces as well. The Convention Centre is already booked for 2019, and we can't wait to be back. If you missed it, and want to know more about the genuinely stellar presentations, as he has for many years, Ben Buchanan has wrapped all the sessions he attended in his "Big Stonkin' Post". And as he so often has, JJ Halans took hundreds of photos, of speakers, and the event overall, which you can view in his Flickr gallery. WDS18 If you missed it, well there's always 2019, and events across product, design and engineering (and more) in Sydney and Melbourne throughout the year. A huge thanks to the speakers, volunteers, partners and above all attendees who came and made it such an amazing event. " ["post_title"]=> string(32) "Web Directions Summit '18 Wrapup" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(31) "web-directions-summit-18-wrapup" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-11-09 09:27:14" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-08 22:27:14" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8712" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#1066 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8654) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-10-16 12:09:06" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-16 01:09:06" ["post_content"]=> string(4119) "Last year, long overdue, we added a new feature to our annual Summit, the Meetup Muster.
The Meetup Muster was a cool addition to the event, introducing people to a range of Sydney’s tech meetups (SydCSS, SydJS, React Sydney, SydTechLeaders, SydPWA, Tech Talks). Many people come to conferences but don’t tap into the amazing meetup scene in between, so hopefully the Muster will encourage more people to join their local communities. Or, if there isn’t a meetup that scratches their itch, perhaps they’ll be the ones to start them!
Ben Buchanan, Web Directions Summit 2017 "Big Stonkin' Post" Photo by JJ Halans, go check out his album of last year's Summit for many fantastic photos. We're excited to be doing it again, with a range of existing, and new, meetup partners, across design and engineering in Sydney. Here's who's participating this year.
  • React Sydney
  • SydPWA></a></li>
			
	<li>				<a href=Sydney Tech Leaders></a></li>
			
	<li>				<a href=Node Sydney></a></li>
			
	<li>				<a href=IxDA Sydney
  • Women Who Code
  • SydJS></a></li>
			
	<li>				<a href=Design Systems Sydney
  • SydCSS
  • TGD in Tech

If you're attending our Summit, make sure you get along and say Hi! and join a meetup you've not joined before. And if you're a member of open of these, and are keen to come to Summit, check your inbox or hassle an organiser (don't hassle them, contact them very nicely, they do amazing stuff for our community) and ask them for a special code to get you a great deal (and thank them for being awesome!)

" ["post_title"]=> string(40) "The Meetup Muster returns for Summit '18" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(39) "the-meetup-muster-returns-for-summit-18" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-10-17 17:27:10" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-17 06:27:10" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8654" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [4]=> object(WP_Post)#1065 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8632) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 14:39:38" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 03:39:38" ["post_content"]=> string(2834) "Last year when we held our first, very successful AI conference, not a few people scratched their heads and asked "why is Web Directions holding an AI conference". Very often AI and Machine Learning are associated with complex technical specialisation (and this is certainly required for a lot of work with AI and ML). But what we saw a lot of people overlooking was how AI and ML can help designers, product owners and managers, decision makers and developers build better products and services today. And with the rise of AI APIs from IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Ali Baba, and numerous startups, adding speech to text, text to speech, conversational and chat interfaces, image recognition, natural language programming and other AI capabilities to existing (and new) digital products and services is far more doable than many people might think. So, our program this year focusses on several key areas, but is relevant to anyone working on digital products and services Big ideas: As with any emerging area of practice, there are big ideas, around ethics, opportunity and separating hype from reality. Our keynote speakers Caroline Sinders and Joe Toscano will address these big picture issues. Design: Design is becoming a central competitive advantage and driver of innovation across enterprise, government, education and startups. There's a big focus on the intersection of design and AI at the conference. The Business of AI: What's the business case, and ROI of investing in these technologies? How is AI being used in the Enterprise? We'll cover all this and more. The technologies of AI and ML: What's the current state of the art? What's emerging as technologies to focus on? We'll address this issue from the perspective of designers, engineers and product people. You can see the full schedule and speaker lineup to get all the details on this very strong lineup. For over 15 years, Web Directions has focussed on no just what is now, but what comes next. If are part of delivering digital products and services, we believe strongly that AI and Machine Learning are a critical part of the future. Get a head start at Web Directions AI, in Sydney October 31." ["post_title"]=> string(31) "Our Second Annual AI Conference" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(31) "our-second-annual-ai-conference" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 14:39:38" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 03:39:38" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8632" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [5]=> object(WP_Post)#1064 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8643) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 14:16:09" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-11 03:16:09" ["post_content"]=> string(2432) "So much of the energy and focus in our industry is on the what and how: on design, on the technologies we use, on business strategy, on tactics. Yet as legendary management thinker Peter Drucker (reportedly) said: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Drucker's point is that if your organisational culture isn't healthy, whatever else you do will likely be far less successful. We've seen numerous cases in point in recent years. Uber was poised to totally dominate ride sharing. Lyft, their nearest rival was running out of cash, and could not find additional capital. But a series of disastrous steps and revelations about the company (its terrible internal culture, accusations of intellectual property theft, and worse) saw Uber lose a significant number of great employees (more important than funding in many ways), lose many riders and drivers to competitors, while Lyft was able to raise a significant amount of funding and start seriously eating into Uber's market share. Theranos was one of the most exciting companies in the world. A charismatic leader in Elizabeth Holmes, a mission to drastically improve health care, a board of powerful, influential people. But ultimately a company built on fraud and deceit. Holmes faces criminal charges. A billion dollars of investors' funds have evaporated. Talented passionate people who spent years of their lives are out of work. There are numerous examples of such failures in recent years, large and small. And at the heart of these failures is culture. Recognising the value of this to our industry, last year we started the Culture conference, focussing on creating healthy team and organisational cultures, and how to build and grow them. This year's event is shaping up as a very worthy successor to last year's highly successful conference, so if you lead or manage teams or organisations, or work in people ops, HR, Culture or Talent, Culture will expose you to the latest thinking on hiring, onboarding, growing your teams and people, don't miss Culture, on October 31st the Convention Centre in Sydney. We guarantee one day invested will help you and your team immeasurably." 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I have to be really candid. At the first event we ever ran, back in 2004, we only came to the realisation very close to the event that our speaker line-up was all male. We were chastened, and hopefully learnt our lesson early, and from that time on, here at Web Directions our goal has been to have a speaker line up and audience that reflects the diversity of our industry.

We want everyone to feel welcome at our events, and want the diversity in our line-up to also be reflected in the audience that attends. We firmly believe that Diversity makes events better (and life better in general). But we also recognise that often those from under-represented backgrounds find conferences hard to afford.

So, we have been able to offer diversity places in the past, however this year our venue is a little larger and we want to be able to extend the opportunity to as many people as possible.

We want Summit 18, Australia's long running, world leading event for web and digital designers, engineers, developers, and decision makers to have the most diverse audience it possibly can. That is why we are taking inspiration from JSConfEU and enabling the Web Directions community to directly support someone from an under-represented group, who otherwise would be unable to afford to attend to come to Summit 18.

We know not everyone has the means to do so, but if you are able to help we have 3 levels of support. We're pricing our diversity tickets at half the price of a regular ticket. Supporters can

  • Pay $195, or 25% of a diversity ticket
  • Pay $395, or 50% of a diversity ticket
  • Our pay 100% of a diversity ticket, $795
Or if you or your company and want to support diversity to a larger extent please drop us a line.

In recognition of your support your a name will be given a presence at the event (or you can remain anonymous if you prefer). You can support the diversity scholarship even if you are not able to attend this year as well.

Apply for a scholarship

​If you are a member of an under-represented group, or know someone who'd benefit,  living in Australia and wish to apply for a scholarship to attend  Summit 18, applications are open now. Successful applicants will get a silver Ticket (Conference ticket, plus videos). For successful applicants residing in Australia but outside of Sydney, travel and accomodation will also be covered.  More information and how to apply is here." ["post_title"]=> string(83) "Support our diversity scholarships and help make Summit our most diverse event yet!" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(82) "support-our-diversity-scholarships-and-help-make-summit-our-most-diverse-event-yet" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-10-10 09:03:45" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-09 22:03:45" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8623" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [7]=> object(WP_Post)#1062 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8563) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-10-04 10:40:19" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-04 00:40:19" ["post_content"]=> string(3240) "The earliest snapshot at the wayback machine for webdirections.org is from early 2006. April 13, 2006 to be precise. A simpler time. Some staples of the time include text rendered as an image (no doubt with some funky image replacement technique–ask your grandparents about those kids!), links to multiple versions of RSS! Tiny text (text for some reason had to be tiny back then). I suspect Maxine and I whipped this one up over a couple of days. The site evolved through the coming year or so, even adding multiple columns, but the barebones style didn't last long. In 2007, Cam Adams (now at co-founder at Canva, who was instrumental on Google Wave, and who's spoken at our conferences multiple times) built our first, event-focussed site for Web Directions South 2007. There were rounded corners! There were gradients (renowned designer Daniel Burka credits Cam for introducing gradients into Web Design). With the move toward multiple events a year (initially Web Directions North in Vancouver and Web Directions South in Sydney), we built what has it turns out been the foundation for our site ever since, designed and built by Ben Webster now founder of the successful insure tech company Insured By Us). The layout is similar, a classic two column layout so familiar from the mid 2000s, that dreaded text as an image (though less and less.) and that's the way it's largely stayed (individual conferences have got their own times and styling and IA over the years, but the main website has largely stayed unchanged.) Some time in 2015 or so we bumped up the font size a little, changed the typeface to Helvetica Neue (very stylish), and that's about it. Which given we're all about the Web is more than a little ironic. A big part of the reason for that is we've been working away on a complete overhaul for a long long time now. No screenshot needed as you are looking at it now! Art Directed and designed by Simon Wright (whose also responsible for the Art Direction of our event web sites) and built by the marvellous Mae De Leon it's worth the wait we think. Perhaps it too will serve its a decade or more? Time will tell." ["post_title"]=> string(31) "A brand new Web Directions Site" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(31) "a-brand-new-web-directions-site" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-10-04 10:40:19" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-04 00:40:19" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8563" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [8]=> object(WP_Post)#1061 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8546) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-26 12:24:47" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-26 02:24:47" ["post_content"]=> string(5045) "If you've been in the industry any length of time, you'll know how essential it is to keep your knowledge up to date, and how much work that can be. One of our key goals with our events is to help attendees do just that, and as always this year's Summit features keynotes, design and engineering track sessions that focus on this near term. After all, when we named Web Directions, we chose the word "Directions" for a very specific reason - our goal has always been to think about what comes next. Not in some hand-wavey, 10 years down the track way. But emerging trends, ideas and technologies we believe our audience should be investing in now, or at least investigating as part of developing medium term strategy and solutions. In our keynotes,
  • Caroline Sinders will consider the raft of new technologies that promise a revolutionary impact not unlike the rise of the internet and Web–which may sound like an exaggeration, but there are many who believe AI, Voice interfaces, blockchain and IoT among other still early stage innovations will see impacts far greater than even the impact that industrialisation had on the 20th Century, and computing has had to date. But, what are design principals we should keep in mind for creating with new technology? Instead of building future worlds imagined in the '60s during the Space Race, what is the future now, and how can we build it?
  • Legendary speaker (he's keynoted a number of times, always with electrifying results) Mark Pesce is developing something brand new, and top secret for Web Directions Summit. Mark's presentations can be transformative experiences.
In the engineering track
  • Peggy Rayzis will take an in-depth look at GraphQL, and help you understand how adopting it will make your organization better / faster / stronger.
  • Web Performance guru Patrick Hamann will dive deep into HTTP2's Push feature which gives us the ability to proactively send assets to a browser without waiting for them to be requested. A huge potential win for performance
  • Alex Danilo will let us know all about WebAssembly, a way of dramatically improving the performance of critical bottlenecks in code, porting legacy codebases to the Web, even extending the Web platform itself. It's one of the most exciting enhancements to the Web Platform in a long time, and now supported in all modern browsers.
But there's much more on this front
  • Rachel Andrew, one of the people at the very forefront of CSS will bring us up to speed with the current state of web layout. A revolution has arrived, are you taking advantage it?
  • And just as layout technologies have been overhauled so too has Web typography, with the now widely supports variable fonts. Bringing benefits to performance (whole font families can be a single file now!) as well as typographical design, Mandy Michael will have you racing back to work Monday November 5th pout them into action!
But we're not leaving designers out of the action. And if that seems like a lot we've barely scratched the surface of the program, 28 sessions in total, across two big tracks. With great pricing for freelancers and not for profits, as well as extra special team offers, future proof yourself and your team at Web Directions Summit." ["post_title"]=> string(47) "Future proof yourself at Web Directions Summit." ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(46) "future-proof-yourself-at-web-directions-summit" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-10-02 09:02:33" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-10-01 23:02:33" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8546" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [9]=> object(WP_Post)#1060 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8519) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-24 10:59:13" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-24 00:59:13" ["post_content"]=> string(6052) "Tim Wu is a Professor of Law at Columbia University. He writes for the New York Times and the New Yorker. He's the author of two very influential books on technology and its impact on society The Master Switch, and The Attention Merchants. He's not someone given to hyperbole and exaggeration. But the title of this post, "Very few things are more important now to the future of humanity than design ethics", comes from him. So stop for a second and think about the enormity of what Wu is saying. The future of humanity. Cast our minds back a quarter of a century. For some of us, this will be a memory, for others, ancient history. It's hard to believe, but at the dawn of the World Wide Web era, pre smartphones (indeed, before almost anyone had a mobile phone at all), before laptops, before computers outside the workplace were common at all, technology, computing was treated as something a little strange. The preserve of geeks and nerds. Of science and engineering, and banking. Something about which few other than these 'high priests' really knew much at all. This last quarter of a century has seen technology pervade everything. As Mark Andreesen, who was instrumental in the popularisation of the browser, first with Mosaic, then Netscape, put it "software is eating the world". Software mediates increasingly every action we take, whether with friends and family through social media, with our bank, how we get from A to B with ride sharing, what we watch on streaming services. Through machine learning, and artificial intelligence, increasingly every decision about us, medical, financial, governmental is made by algorithms and systems and data collected about us, often data we're unaware of, or barely aware of. Perhaps the most extreme example of this, but one that is really a matter only of degree is the Chinese 'social credit' system, "intended to standardise the assessment of citizens' and businesses' economic and social reputation, or 'credit'". But what's often left out of this picture is the fact that all of this is designed. All of it. Increasingly every action and interaction we take, tested, refined, with specific business or organisational outcomes in mind. Whether it's keeping your attention on a site, buying something more. We talk about User Centred Design, but how often is it really business objective centred design? And if this is problematic now, what happens when say all of us are wearing smart watch type devices, that measure our vital signs and activity every moment of out lives. There are many potentially marvellous, even lifesaving applications of these devices. But, putting this data the hands of health and life insurers could have very significant impacts not just on individual lives, but on the very nature of insurance itself. When everything is designed, every impact of a product, a service, a technology is in a way a choice. And those choices are driven by design ethics. And those ethical choices are as much the responsibility of individual designers, and engineers as they are of organisations, managers, CEOs. Arguable more so, since those of use who work on the details, not just the big picture, have more time, and more capacity to think through second order effects. The unintended consequences. Couple this with the opportunity designers and technologists have right now, being in such demand, to choose whether they work for, and what they work on. These ethical decisions are yours to make. Tim Wu has made explicit something I've felt for sometime, and as someone whom I've admired for a long time now, it's gratifying to hear it put so succinctly and powerfully. "Very few things are more important now to the future of humanity than design ethics". And if you look at the program for our upcoming Web Directions Summit, you'll see ethics, both directly and indirectly, takes a central place. We have If ethics and the impact of the design and engineering choices you make are important to you, I hope we'll see you at Web Directions Summit, in Sydney, November 1 and 2." ["post_title"]=> string(85) ""Very few things are more important now to the future of humanity than design ethics"" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(83) "very-few-things-are-more-important-now-to-the-future-of-humanity-than-design-ethics" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-24 10:59:13" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-24 00:59:13" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8519" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [10]=> object(WP_Post)#1059 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8506) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 14:03:35" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 04:03:35" ["post_content"]=> string(3561) "We've been running conferences for the Web industry for a long time now. Since 2004 to be precise. In that time we've seen what was barely a trickle of events become a river, across the whole world, often specialising into specific niches. Bringing tremendous benefits for our industry in many ways. And very often, certainly in recent years and at considerable expense, these conferences have recorded presentations, and put these videos online, most commonly YouTube. A boon for developers and designers around the world. But. And there's a big but. Conferences are hard. You'll see events, even high profile ones, come and go. Organisers burn out. Very few organisers create a sustainable financial basis for their events – most of them are built on monumental, admirable, highly stressful volunteer efforts, and the risk organisers take that they'll cover their event costs. Do videos really benefit these organisers? From our perspective, we've had hundreds of thousands of views of videos from our conferences on YouTube (which even if we'd turned on advertising would have generated very little money) and yet we'd be hard pressed to demonstrate this brings any benefit in terms of future attendance at our events. And presenting is hard. A solid presentation is dozens or hundreds of hours work, built on top of thousands of hours spent developing expertise. No one is close to adequately compensated for these efforts. Which is why even speakers in high demand almost always do the same presentation numerous times. Just as most events exist because of the significant volunteer efforts of their organisers, they also exist because speakers volunteer their time and expertise. Do videos benefit speakers? Sure there's a bit of exposure (you know what they say about exposure and putting food on the table) - you can send potential conference organisers to your presentation (though this days many conferences have anonymous calls for presentations, minimising their value from that perspective). But the benefits, in return for the enormous efforts and expertise, are nebulous at best. It is easier to argue that industry professionals benefit (as do as the people who employ them, lots of free world class education!) But this benefit may be more illusory than first appears. With little financial incentive to prepare new talks with any great frequency, how much of their expertise is left untapped? And as organisers will typically want a number of more established speakers to draw attention to their event (who are most likely to be delivering a presentation they're already presented before) the opportunities for new speakers, with new perspectives and presentations to find an audience, and then be recorded, are more limited. This has troubled me for years (in addition to organising conferences I've spoken not infrequently, and also attend conferences). Surely there must be a better way? A way in which speakers and organisers can be better compensated, with the flow-on benefits of unlocking more of the expertise of existing speakers, opening up opportunities for new speakers, and providing incentive and compensation for organisers who provide the platform for recordings to take place. A true win-win-win. Not only have I been thinking a lot about this, we've been working on what we feel is a solution here at Web Directions. Stay tuned as we'll be letting you know more about this in the very near future. We're pretty excited to show you what we've been working on." ["post_title"]=> string(49) "Conference presentation videos are broken. Part I" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(48) "conference-presentation-videos-are-broken-part-i" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 16:36:54" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 06:36:54" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8506" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [11]=> object(WP_Post)#1058 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8490) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-20 10:30:18" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-20 00:30:18" ["post_content"]=> string(6149) "At our earliest events, the design aspects of our programs were very much focussed on Web design. But over the last decade or so, just as professionals have increasingly specialised, and design in the broad sense has become central to what we build, so too has the focus on design shifted at Web Directions. What was once called Web Design, became Front End Design–with its focus on CSS in particular–is now largely part of Front End development. If that is what you do, in our engineering track you'll find a good deal of focus on these aspects of designing and building for the Web. There are amazing new layout and typographical capabilities now widely supported, that we're covering there. The design track has evolved to focus on aspects of design such as interaction and UX design, design research, typography and even illustration. But as it says in our name, (the Directions bit), our aim is always to look to where we are headed next. As we've done for many years, we'll provide insights into the topics and techniques we feel should be on your radar, and starting to incorporate into your practice today. We also pay attention to the broader practice of design, and the way design integrates into business and strategy, and a topic now central to everything we do: ethics. Some of the particular highlights for this year's Summit with a design focus include Oliver Reichenstein, one of the most influential experts in the field of Information Architecture, and founder of IAWriter, the hugely popular writing app, will consider deeply the connection between design, philosophy and ethics. Yiying Lu will be familiar to many. She grew up in Shanghai, came to Australia to study design, and now works with companies from early stage startups to the scale of Disney. As our world becomes increasingly cross-cultural, Yiying will shed light on how design can help cross cultures in a digital world, a challenge particularly vital to Australia. Mara Giudice is a legend in the world of design. With high level roles in product design at Facebook and AutoDesk where she was VP of Design in her resume, and books like the the highly influential 'The Rise of the DEO', about Leaders who understand the transformative power of design and embrace its traits and tenets, Maria has been instrumental in the transition of design from marginal to central in strategic decision making. Joe Toscano: our models for interacting with machines are changing rapidly, toward a conversational, chat based approach. The past few years have been filled with chatbot experiments—some brilliant, many not—but the future has yet to be experienced. As artificial intelligence capabilities advance, conversation will become the next major interaction model, not just a messenger experience. Joe Toscano, an award winning Experience Designer at the likes of Google, and now founder of the not for profit Design Good, will explain why conversation will play such a large role in the future, define how it will happen, and suggest how you can integrate conversation into your product roadmap. Caroline Sinders: Hugely popular when she spoke at Directions 2016 on the fateful morning of Donald Trump's election, Caroline has a long career in thinking deeply about the impact of technology on the individual, society and culture. With stints in design research at IBM Watson, BuzzFeed, and the Wikimedia Foundation, Caroline will ask: Instead of building future worlds imagined in the '60s during the Space Race, what is the future now, and how can we build it? Cyd Harrell was until recently Chief of Staff at F8, an agency embedded in the US Digital Service (similar to Australia's DTA). With extensive experience in design leadership and research in the private and public sector, Cyd will consider how to use your metaphorical capacity to do great qualitative analysis. She’ll dig into how to source apt metaphors from users and from your team, how to use them as pointers into the salient parts of a mountain of qualitative data But this barely scratches the surface of what is on offer. Jennifer Hom, and illustrator and Experience Design Manager at Airbnb will showcase the development process of Airbnb's illustrative aesthetics. Tim Buesing will demonstrate how transparency creates trust and brings success to products, services and brands. Allison Ravenhall will show us what the latest Accessibility standards mean for designers. And that's not even the entire design focussed program. Take a look at the full schedule now, then register your place for this once-a-year event. There are extra special pricing for freelancers and not for profits, and great team offers as well. " ["post_title"]=> string(35) "Design at Web Directions Summit '18" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(34) "design-at-web-directions-summit-18" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-20 12:57:26" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-20 02:57:26" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8490" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [12]=> object(WP_Post)#1057 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8461) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-13 15:12:46" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-13 05:12:46" ["post_content"]=> string(5014) "From the very beginning, our events have had a strong focus on development. With our background in developing (both for the Web and of tools for other web developers) it's something we've always thought a lot about, and continue to focus on. As the event matured, and as the roles of development and design separated out, we added a second track, focussed on design, and that dual focus on engineering and design at Web Directions Summit continues today. But we quite deliberately call this our engineering track (rather than our developer, or development track), since we want to reflect the breadth of what we cover there. This track is about core technologies–CSS and JavaScript, and working with them. But it's importantly about the practices, patterns and approaches critical to building successful modern front ends.

Core technologies

Our goal when we focus on specific technologies is to help our attendees get a sense of the things we feel they should be starting to concentrate on–avoiding hype and short term trends, and honing in on things that will become fundamental to how we build for the Web. This year, there's a strong focus on: GraphQL: The longstanding RESTful approach to architecting web applications is in many places starting to give way to GraphQL. Peggy Ryazis, from Meteor, will explore some of the use-cases and success stories of top companies as they've made the move to GraphQL. She'll also offer guidance as to how to move through the phases of adoption at your company. WebAssembly: JavaScript engines in modern browsers have become increasingly powerful and for some time now, developers have been targeting a subset of the JavaScript language that brings particular performance benefits. This is now standardised as WebAssembly, and supported in all modern browsers. It's not simply for porting old codebases to the web either, but can be used in many interesting ways, as Alex Danilo from Google will cover. CSS Layout: A revolution in web layout is happening, driven by the widespread support of CSS Grid and Flexbox. We're privileged to have perhaps the world expert in these technologies, Rachel Andrew here to talk about them. Variable Fonts: Not only is layout undergoing a revolution on the Web so too is typography, with Variable fonts, a technology also now widely supported in modern browsers. With significant performance as well as design benefits, it's a technology everyone should have on their radar. Mandy Michael will be here to get you up to speed on this exciting technology. There's much more besides, including deep dives into the Virtual DOM and the CSS Box model.

Patterns and Practices

As I mentioned, we don't just highlight technologies, but also patterns and practices essential for building modern front ends, including performance, security, debugging and quality assurance techniques and more. Performance: One of the world experts on web application performance, Patrick Hamman, will look at HTTP/2 Server push, and its benefits (and potential challenges). Security: Erwin van der Koogh will look at recent additions to the browser security stack and how you can massively increase the security of your site with relatively little work. Scaling: with more than 80 apps, 150 developers in 4 different countries and more than 700k LOC. Atlassian has had to learn about scale. Nadia Makarevich will cover the strategies and tools that Atlassian has developed to create and support a high-velocity, high-quality engineering environment, challenges and obstacles that they had to overcome and hoops that they jumped through on the way. We'll also cover modern debugging and quality assurance techniques, look at the current state of the art in development including typed JavaScript, and more. It's a huge program, with value for your whole engineering team, from Junior developer to CTO. And speaking of teams, we have great offers for teams, including videos from other recent Web Directions events like Code earlier this year, plus more. " ["post_title"]=> string(40) "Engineering at Web Directions Summit '18" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(39) "engineering-at-web-directions-summit-18" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-13 15:12:46" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-13 05:12:46" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8461" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [13]=> object(WP_Post)#1056 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8452) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-12 15:50:53" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-12 05:50:53" ["post_content"]=> string(6332) "Twice in the last week or two I've taken part in panel discussions focussed on ethics – at Sydney Tech leaders and then at an evening organised by Fjord here in Sydney. One focussed more on ethics and technology, the other on ethics and design. Both featured lively, thoughtful conversations, and a clear underlying desire by the audience to include ethics as a key aspect of decision making and their professional practice. At both I spoke around the same idea–inspired by a presentation Stephanie Troeth gave at our Design conference earlier in the year (you can watch the presentation 'influencing Decisions with Design Research' below). Stephanie quoted a scene from one of my favourite plays, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are minor characters in Hamlet, friends of Hamlet. Claudius, Hamlet's uncle has killed Hamlet's father, the King, usurped his throne, and married the Kings wife, Hamlet's mother. Got it? Claudius co-opts Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to carry a letter to England where Hamlet is being ostracised, that will result in Hamlet's death. Hamlet outwits them, ultimately leading to their execution. What's the relevance of all this to ethics? As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern await their execution (a scene that doesn't appear in Hamlet) one turns to the other and says
There must have been a moment, at the beginning, were we could have said -- no. But somehow we missed it.
The point I made at both events is that beginnings are vital moments. This is where small decisions can have major impacts. The projects we work on, the companies or clients to work for, once these decisions are made, the impact of our choices is increasingly diminished. These are the times we can say 'no', or have outsized impacts on the direction of a project. At all of our events this year, ethics has emerged as a central consideration. It's no doubt partly as a consequence of the realisation of the impact social media platforms are having on our societies, the impact the so-called 'sharing' economy is having on the role of labour and work, and numerous other ways in which technology is impacting long standing social structures. For many years there's been the naive sense that technology is essentially a force for good, or is at least natural, rather than simply a tool we as individuals, groups, companies, societies use to achieve outcomes. The consequences of our use of technology are choices, whether we are conscious of those choices or not. Only last week, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter observed at a US Congressional hearing
We weren’t expecting any of this when we created Twitter over 12 years ago, and we acknowledge the real world negative consequences of what happened and we take the full responsibility to fix it.
But why weren't we expecting any of this then? Human nature hasn't changed in that 12 year period. It was a naivity, fuelled in no small part by privilege. Those who built twitter (and the significant majority of those who've built the social media platforms, and other high impact technologies of the last quarter of a century) are incredibly privileged, very often white, very often male, very well educated people. Their experience was rarely one of vulnerability–to the voices and actions of hate, to the negative impact on the nature of work, on our culture and society. To create a platform designed to connect millions of people and not imagine its potential misuses is wilful blindness. When we imagine and design and build tools and technologies and platforms and services it's as important, perhaps more important to ask 'how might this be misused' as it is to ask 'how might this be used'. We might think the work we do is far less significant. After all, few of us are building world changing technologies, we're only working on small seemingly insignificant features. But these considerations aren't simply relevant at the scale of whole systems–they can impact even the smallest details of the things we build. I've taken to wearing an Apple Watch the last few months. I'm particularly interested in tracking my activity, heart rate, that sort of thing. On a recent day for some reason I didn't wear my watch for some hours, and then the next day I was greeted with a message about how I'd missed my targets the day before but if I tried hard I could do that today. Seemingly innocuous. Quite positive really. Encouraging me to be more active, more healthy. But what if the reason I'd missed my targets was because I was ill? I'd Injured myself? My mental health causing me difficulties? What seems at first glance like a harmless, cute, "you go" kind of message could have very significant negative impacts. Millions of people will have seen a similar message over the last 3 or 4 years. Small details can add up to significant impacts. The days blind of optimism about technology and its impact on the world, the naive sense that, on balance, what we do is without question a force for good, these days are over. Ethics is at the heart of what comes next. At Web Directions Summit this year we'll be addressing the issue directly with a keynote by Oliver Reichenstein–Philosophy, Ethics and Design–and related presentations by Holger Bartel–The Untold Benefits of Ethical Design–and Tim Buesing– Design For Transparency. Tickets are on sale now, with significant discounts for freelancers, contractors and not for profits.

Influencing Decisions with Design Research

Stephanie Troeth Design '18 Presentation, which inspired my thoughts in this piece is here. " ["post_title"]=> string(20) "Somehow we missed it" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(20) "somehow-we-missed-it" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-12 15:50:53" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-12 05:50:53" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8452" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [14]=> object(WP_Post)#1337 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8434) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-11 12:43:23" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-11 02:43:23" ["post_content"]=> string(10119) "Every few months or so a tweet or blog post in the web development world seems to ignite a heated conversation about CSS, CSS in JS, the future of Web development, whether certain folks are out of touch, and if so how. A bit of side eye and snark. Here's something I wrote about this topic during a now long forgotten outbreak back in 2013! The most recent such 'conversation' was triggered by this tweet: and the quiz to which it refers. Tim Kadlec followed up with a detailed post, which doubles as a passionate defence of understanding the core technologies of web development, among them CSS. I agree considerably with Tim, but I also understand where others who take different perspective (mostly tweets, I've not found a detailed post countering Tim's) are coming from.

Developing for the Web is hard

Here's the thing. Developing for the Web places a significant burden on developers knowledge, and I think I have a reasonable perspective on this having for many yeas been a developer for the Mac OS and Windows. When developing for most platforms (like Mac OS, or iOS) developers have
  • A single platform to target: The OS. Developers for the Web have in theory a single platform to develop for, but in practice it's at least several, all of which have their differences. That alone makes for a significant challenge. But wait, there's more!
  • While Operating systems are upgraded rarely, with a long lead-time ahead of those changes, the Web platform is in a continuous state of both theoretical (the standards) and practical (the browsers implementation of them) and experimental change. Tracking these changes, and their support have always been hard work, and only becoming harder over time.
  • When developing traditional software, developers typically had a single language (C, C++, Turbo Pascal!, Objective-C, C#, Visual Basic (don't @ me!) to be concerned with. With the Web Platform, we have HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SVG, and their curious complex interactions. As well as their backwards compatibilities, going back nearly quarter of a century (or more).
And this doesn't even begin to address the networked architecture of Web applications (even with Service Worker, manifests and PWAs, we don't by any means have the sort of luxury that installed apps do in terms of performance, bundling, packaging). Or that while traditionally most platforms had a quite standardised look and feel, and standard, OS supplied widgets, this is far less true of the Web. Many have spoken about the challenge of becoming a Web developer today, and I'll be honest, I'm not sure whether I'd be up to it (particularly at these of 51). And then lets consider what we are building and are expected to build now, compared with what the Web looked like even 10 years ago, let alone over 20 when CSS first started to have some sort of impact. So I have considerable sympathy for those who express frustration with complexities, who look to build layers of abstraction (React, Vue, and so on) to hide these complexities, and help developer productivity. There are many very smart, increasingly far more experienced developers than me whom I admire greatly who articulate this point of view, most of whom are far from new to developing for the Web. People like Mark Dalgleish, and Glen Maddern (who are among the most frequent speakers at our events).

Dialog not debate?

I feel there's an important dialog missing here, one I've been trying to foster at various of our conferences going back some years (I've brought together a number of these presentations below if you want to watch them). One the one hand (and this will somewhat simplify each 'side', for the sake of brevity, not disrespect to either), we have those, and I'd on balance probably include myself in this camp, who'd argue that the core technologies of the Web are precisely that–foundational, and a deep understanding of them conceptually (not necessarily an encyclopaedic knowledge of every syntactic aspect) is fundamental working knowledge for professional Web developers. The other side would argue that just as this was true of assembly language 40 years ago, and the abstractions we've built above the lower level tools in the intervening years mean assembly is no longer a core technology, the growing complexity of what we build for the Web and the associated frameworks and abstractions (Vue, Angular, React) means a deep understanding of technologies like CSS, HTML and JavaScript, and specifically problematic aspects like CSS's global scope, specificity rules and the cascade are no longer core knowledge (or shouldn't be and need to be abstracted away). What I do feel is lacking from this conversation is something I've been trying to get at in a number of the presentations and discussions we commissioned for our conferences over the last 2-3 years. Just as jQuery introduced concepts and language and platform features (classlist, querySelector, to name a couple) by highlighting the shortcomings of the DOM from a web app perspective, and compile-to-jaavscript languages like coffeescript (arrow functions) on JavaScript, what is it that CSS (in particular, it seems CSS is the recurring 'culprit' here) lacks, that CSS-in-JS, and other approaches are looking to work around? And how might CSS evolve to incorporate these?

Harnessing The Web's Iterative Innovation

Because the cycle of innovation we've seen over decades now when it comes to its technologies has been innovation on top of the core languages and platform features like the DOM (some times this innovation takes place in the browser, sometimes in frameworks and libraries, sometimes in conventions, patterns and practices). These innovations prove the use case and value of their approach, and the ones that bring the greatest benefit are reabsorbed into the underlying languages and technologies. No one doubts for a moment that ES today has improved dramatically due to this approach. And at a much greater rate than it did before the days of jQuery and coffee script et al. But all this takes dialog, each 'side' articulating their position, listening to the other, in a spirit of trying to understand, not simply attempting, rhetorically or otherwise to win. What's the goal here? To be right? Two win the argument, or to help the Web become the best platform it can be?

Related Presentations

It's precisely this challenge I've been trying to tease out for some time with various presentations by invited experts at our conferences these last few years. In particular at Code 2017, we had Mark Dalgleish, and Glen Maddern and Mandy Michael

Glen Maddern–The Road to Styled Components: CSS in Component-based Systems

Glen Maddern, who along with Max Stoiber (see the tweet that started all this off above from Max), took the best of CSS and the web to build a new way to style component-based systems. In this talk, Glen shared what they thought about and why they arrived where they did: styled-components

Mark Dalgleish–A Unified Styling Language

In the past few years, we’ve witnessed a massive increase in the amount of CSS experimentation, with ideas like CSS Modules and — most controversially — the rise of CSS-in-JS. But does mixing our styles and logic run counter to the original ideas of CSS? Does it break progressive enhancement? In this talk, we’ll take an empathetic look at these new approaches, how they relate to the history of CSS, and why they might possibly hold the key to the future of CSS — all from the point of view of someone who has been writing CSS since 1999.

Mandy Michael–Traditional CSS at Scale(?)

Mandy Michael loves CSS. She believes there’s power in its simplicity and flexibility. When the team at Seven West Media Perth redeveloped The West Australian’s digital platform in a tight 4-month deadline, they embraced the CSS they know and love with a component driven approach, utilising ITCSS, BEM and SCSS with strict linting and code review. But while she’s a long-time lover of traditional approaches to CSS, the lessons Mandy learned have led her to the ultimate question: is there a better way?

RoundTable

We then brought Mandy, Glen and Mark together for a further discussion of the issues their presentations had raised. " ["post_title"]=> string(20) "Iterating on the Web" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(20) "iterating-on-the-web" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-09-11 12:43:23" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-11 02:43:23" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=8434" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } } ["post_count"]=> int(15) ["current_post"]=> int(10) ["in_the_loop"]=> bool(true) ["post"]=> object(WP_Post)#1059 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(8506) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 14:03:35" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-09-21 04:03:35" ["post_content"]=> string(3561) "We've been running conferences for the Web industry for a long time now. Since 2004 to be precise. In that time we've seen what was barely a trickle of events become a river, across the whole world, often specialising into specific niches. Bringing tremendous benefits for our industry in many ways. And very often, certainly in recent years and at considerable expense, these conferences have recorded presentations, and put these videos online, most commonly YouTube. A boon for developers and designers around the world. But. And there's a big but. Conferences are hard. You'll see events, even high profile ones, come and go. Organisers burn out. Very few organisers create a sustainable financial basis for their events – most of them are built on monumental, admirable, highly stressful volunteer efforts, and the risk organisers take that they'll cover their event costs. Do videos really benefit these organisers? From our perspective, we've had hundreds of thousands of views of videos from our conferences on YouTube (which even if we'd turned on advertising would have generated very little money) and yet we'd be hard pressed to demonstrate this brings any benefit in terms of future attendance at our events. And presenting is hard. A solid presentation is dozens or hundreds of hours work, built on top of thousands of hours spent developing expertise. No one is close to adequately compensated for these efforts. Which is why even speakers in high demand almost always do the same presentation numerous times. Just as most events exist because of the significant volunteer efforts of their organisers, they also exist because speakers volunteer their time and expertise. Do videos benefit speakers? Sure there's a bit of exposure (you know what they say about exposure and putting food on the table) - you can send potential conference organisers to your presentation (though this days many conferences have anonymous calls for presentations, minimising their value from that perspective). But the benefits, in return for the enormous efforts and expertise, are nebulous at best. It is easier to argue that industry professionals benefit (as do as the people who employ them, lots of free world class education!) But this benefit may be more illusory than first appears. With little financial incentive to prepare new talks with any great frequency, how much of their expertise is left untapped? And as organisers will typically want a number of more established speakers to draw attention to their event (who are most likely to be delivering a presentation they're already presented before) the opportunities for new speakers, with new perspectives and presentations to find an audience, and then be recorded, are more limited. This has troubled me for years (in addition to organising conferences I've spoken not infrequently, and also attend conferences). Surely there must be a better way? A way in which speakers and organisers can be better compensated, with the flow-on benefits of unlocking more of the expertise of existing speakers, opening up opportunities for new speakers, and providing incentive and compensation for organisers who provide the platform for recordings to take place. A true win-win-win. Not only have I been thinking a lot about this, we've been working on what we feel is a solution here at Web Directions. 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We’ve been running conferences for the Web industry for a long time now. Since 2004 to be precise. In that time we’ve seen what was barely a trickle of events become a river, across the whole world, often specialising into specific niches. Bringing tremendous benefits for our industry in many ways. And very often, certainly […]

Design at Web Directions Summit ’18

At our earliest events, the design aspects of our programs were very much focussed on Web design. But over the last decade or so, just as professionals have increasingly specialised, and design in the broad sense has become central to what we build, so too has the focus on design shifted at Web Directions. What […]

Engineering at Web Directions Summit ’18

From the very beginning, our events have had a strong focus on development. With our background in developing (both for the Web and of tools for other web developers) it’s something we’ve always thought a lot about, and continue to focus on. As the event matured, and as the roles of development and design separated […]

Somehow we missed it

Twice in the last week or two I’ve taken part in panel discussions focussed on ethics – at Sydney Tech leaders and then at an evening organised by Fjord here in Sydney. One focussed more on ethics and technology, the other on ethics and design. Both featured lively, thoughtful conversations, and a clear underlying desire […]

Iterating on the Web

Every few months or so a tweet or blog post in the web development world seems to ignite a heated conversation about CSS, CSS in JS, the future of Web development, whether certain folks are out of touch, and if so how. A bit of side eye and snark. Here’s something I wrote about this […]

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  • Web Directions Summit 2019

    Our legendary event. Two big tracks, one Product/Design, one Developer focused.

    Sydney November 2019

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