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Ampersand and more

Hard to believe that it is May already; another year that’s flying by. Luckily it has been fairly fun packed so far, with much of this excitement thanks to the many web conferences I’ve been to this year. It kicked off with The Design of Understanding and New Adventures in January, with SXSW following in March, and only last month I was attending UX London. It hasn’t just been the big events either; tomorrow sees a mobile focused Multipack Presents, which due to its growing popularity has now relocated to a larger venue.

I’ve also been trying my hand at speaking myself, largely around themes of style guides and web native design. I deliberately started with small appearances in front of friends at Multipack events before speaking to less familiar faces at an APA Digital Breakfast in March. Last month I spoke at Oxford Geek Nights, a fantastically popular event that meant presenting with a microphone for the first time — far harder than you would imagine. Once I got over my initial nerves and found my flow, I was enjoying myself so much that I honestly didn’t want to stop! For those curious how I did, there should be video of my talk online shortly.

Still, I’m an attendee at heart, and if there is one thing that governs my choice of conference, it’s a single track. I too share Jeremy’s frustration with multiple track conferences, especially those that distinguish between design and development which I believe is a largely false division. There’s something about a single track conference that makes it feel more curated and focused, with everyone’s collective experience allowing for common themes and ideas to emerge.


Ampersand logo.

With that in mind, and excusing the obvious bias, I’m massively looking forward to Ampersand, Clearleft’s new conference tightly focused around web typography. This is a topic which, as Rich suggests, many designers would benefit from having a deeper understanding:

There’s so many interwoven, and sometimes adversarial, disciplines involved that I felt that everyone’s tale needed to be told. I wanted to try and tell the whole story in one day, from experts and practitioners of the different disciplines. I felt that if I, as primarily a website designer, knew more about the type design decisions, the hinting process, the issues browser makers have, then I could become a better designer.

Obviously web typography is a topic close to Clearleft’s heart, especially given our day-to-day experience working on Fontdeck and helping foundries bring their fonts to the web. Yet as Rich explains, there is something for everyone designing on the web — the web is all about typography after all. I think this event promises to be really special, even more so given the giveaways, Phil Baines type tour and $20 worth of free webfonts for each attendee.

Perhaps more noteworthy however, is that this emerging industry has maintained the community feel of the web standards movement it was born out of; it’s fantastic to see both Typekit and MyFonts sponsoring the parties, with WebType and Hoefler & Frere Jones around on the day too.

There are still tickets available, so if you haven’t done so already, you’d better grab a ticket soon. The conference takes place in the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange on the 17th June, and tickets cost just £125 (or just half price for students).

More to come

If this wasn’t enough, Geek in the Park returns in August shortly before dConstruct will attempt to improve on last years widely applauded edition. This year it will form part of the new Brighton Digital Festival.

The event I’m really looking forward to however is An Event Apart DC in October. I’ve experienced this conference series twice before and loved each and every minute; with Jeremy waxing lyrical about this year’s line up of speakers, I could no longer resist a third visit.

Hopefully this east coast activity, and my brief return to San Francisco for Dan and Lizes wedding a week later, will give me enough time to traverse the continent by train again. I’ve been looking at travelling on the Canadian, departing from Toronto and stepping off the train four days later in Vancouver. That’s four whole days. On a train. I need to think this one through!

So, there we have it. Lots to look forward to, and still much to plan, yet I suspect all too soon this will be yesterday’s news. Should you wish to follow which conferences I’m attending or speaking at, be sure to visit my profile on the increasingly amazing Lanyrd.