@media 2006:after

I’m back home from @media 2006, which as you probably know took place in London last week. I’d like to follow suit with the many other people who have posted their reflections on this year’s conference.

Like last year, @media 2006 was a success. I enjoyed myself thoroughly during my four days in London, mostly thanks to the fantastic people I met and spent time with.

The conference itself was of course also enjoyable, though I saw less of it this year than in 2005. Since I participated in a panel (Strategic CSS management) I missed what was going on in the other room during that. I also missed Jeffrey Veen’s presentation at the end of day one since I spent that time with Dave Shea and Rachel Andrew, preparing for our panel.

People have told me they didn’t notice, but I was terribly nervous before going on stage. It was a strange feeling since I never have any problems speaking in front of people. But I haven’t done this in English before, so that is probably the reason for my worries. In the end I think we did ok.

Again, I had a great time both at the conference centre and at the social events. I do have a few suggestions for improvement though, and after talking to other delegates I think many will agree:

  • I’m not too fond of the two-track format. I kept feeling I was missing something. I have seen others suggest that maybe the tracks could be separated according to skill level, which sounds like an improvement to me.
  • More water. Same problem as last year, but this time I was prepared for that and brought two litres of water with me each day.
  • Coffee. More and, if possible, better coffee would be great. Or find a conference centre right next to a really good espresso bar ;-). Speaking of coffee, I tried Starbucks for the first and last time on Thursday afternoon.
  • Food. I don’t know if it’s a Swedish thing, but we tend to want more than sandwiches for lunch. I realise that there are problems feeding 800 geeks, but how about also offering pizza slices or something similar?
  • Find more suitable bars/restaurants/other venues for the parties, especially the actual @media party. Less smoke and softer music would make it so much more enjoyable. I, and most of the others I have talked to, come there to talk to other web professionals, not to shout at them. When I woke up on Friday morning I was worried I might not be able to attend the panel since my voice was extremely hoarse from all the shouting and passive smoking from the night before. Luckily it recovered during the day, but had the panel been first thing in the morning I am not so sure I could have done it.

You may look at that list and think I’m complaining. Yeah, maybe a little, but those problems are still just minor when I look at the event as a whole. It was fantastic.

What was not so fantastic about my four nights in London was the hotel I stayed at (The Sanctuary House). If you have any kind of sleeping problems, which I do, I would recommend finding somewhere else to stay. The beds are rock hard and there is a constant droning noise that sounds like someone left a truck with the engine running on the street outside. Except there isn’t. Good thing I brought my earplugs, though they could not block the sound completely. I even moved the bed around to try and find a spot where the noise was less audible. No luck. So I had four restless nights of too little sleep. And then there were the keycards. I stopped counting after getting the sixth replacement card. They’d work a couple of times, then go bad. Pathetic.

Thanks to all the fabulous people I had the privilege of hanging out with, the hotel didn’t bother me nearly as much as it normally would have. So thanks, Dan, Dave, Veerle, Geert, Cindy, Jeremy, Andy, Rich, Chris, Kenneth, Rachel, Drew, and everybody else. I could go on to fill a couple of paragraphs, but I’ll stop there.

Thanks. See you next year.

Posted on June 20, 2006 in Life, Web Standards

Comments

  1. It was so nice to meet you there, Roger! (You may not remember me, but I’m a geek who joined the event from Tokyo.)

  2. Our public smoking ban may have come into effect by next year, so you could be all set on that score.

    Can’t say the same for intrusive music, sadly.

  3. I think catering was much better this time than it was last year. And, ahem, I did like coffee… On the other hand, I do not run blog like Kaffesnobben ;) Water would be indead great, and the last point on bars/restaurants is dead-on.

  4. Got to agree, hotels in London generally suck: It’s rare to get one where you can have a good nights sleep. As a non-Londoner working in the UK, I have to spend a lot of time in them, and rarely note a good one.

    I wonder if there is an equivalent to ‘corked’ for hotels?

  5. Great to finally meet you, and Pernilla as well! Completely agreed on the smoke. I’m not used to smoking being allowed in pubs/restaurants, and it seriously drains the life out of me. Hoping a ban is in place by next year.

  6. Hi Roger - it was great to actually meet you on the Thursday evening (and I agree - a shame that it was too loud and we had to shout to hear eachother at all). Well done for presenting in English! :)

    Also agree about more/better coffee too!

  7. I totally agree with your improvement suggestions. And would like to add one more: please organise a better wifi network.

  8. I agree with everything you just said Roger. It felt like I was always in the wrong track, and the skill-level idea was bounced around our group numerous times, as well all found the conference way too basic.

    The whole congregation area was too small. And too few seats (handy when eating, you know). The food was OK, but was a nightmare to get at.

    I totally agree with you about the party venues. Wednesday was too small, and Friday was way too expensive (the hotel). Thursday, the music was too loud, and I didn’t notice the smoke, although I didn’t hang around the bar.

    Tom: Wifi, yes, sort it out. Some people mentioned it was because of all the Apples, trying to communicate with each other. I say, ok, maybe, but reboot.dk managed it.

    AlastairC: Cork’d for hotels is a great idea.

  9. Hello Roger,

    As a regular reader of 456bereast (your rss feed is my screensaver), it was great to actually hear you talk, You did a great job, believe me. I wanted to come up to congratulate you and introduce myself, but the panel was ‘harassed’ after the talk, and I didn’t find an appropriate moment after (or before for that matter).

    Nevertheless, it was great to see you on stage talking of a very relevant subject.

    I too feel that I’ve missed something. Somehow, the two days just flew by this edition (seemed longer and richer last year, but then it was the first ed). Looking forward to the podcasts. The logistics were well taken care of this year.

    Same remarks as to the party, coffee, smoke and water..

  10. Hey Roger. Really glad you had a good time.

    Your suggestions are fully taken on board, but maybe some splainin’ might be of interest:

    • A helluvalot of thought went in to how to split the tracks, and skill level wasn’t really an option. Like it says in the programme, “just stay in one room, pretend the other doesn’t exist… [and] you’ll still experience a great ‘single-track’ conference”! We were trying to offer more choice, but you’re not the first person to dislike it!

    • More water definitely - we had big arguments with the venue about the provision of even tap water before the event and we weren’t allowed to bring in our own. Will try even harder next time - it’s obviously an important thing.

    • We didn’t have much choice when it came to the coffee - we had more breaks because that’s what people wanted, but the catering packages don’t accommodate so many! Oh, and we didn’t have the slightest choice over the type of coffee!

    • The food thing I’m a but puzzled by. I haven’t had chance to go through the feedback forms yet, but most people seemed to think it was excellent. Did you only get sandwiches? There was chicken (“Thai red chicken with rice and tomato chutney” to be precise”!), salmon, noodles, and I particularly enjoyed the aubergine curry and cous cous - it was lovely! We couldn’t get pizza slices, because the catering company wouldn’t do that. When you hire a venue like this, you’re tied in to an associated (or in-house) catering company - like the coffee thing, there’s little flexibility. Still, I thought they did a great job, and certainly better than last year!

    • I thought the Thursday evening venue was great, but I’m with you on the associated problems. I’m certainly no fan of smoke, but that’s England for you, and if we attempted (we would have failed) to make it non-smoking, we would have alienated many of the delegates. Roll-on the upcoming law for smoke-free public places I say! Oh, and we asked them to turn the music down a few times, which they seemed to ignore. It’s one of London’s top “posh” bars, so I think they were confused!

  11. Nice suggestions. I’m quite sure that a swedish confernce would do better on all your points, especially the food thing ;-) I however feel that tracks according to skill level would not work unless you made a certain topic obligatory. I also think a risk with “skill level” is that everybody would go to the advanced session anyway.

    I’m sorry I missed your panel, I certainly had planned to see it, but after another panel I felt panels were not as interesting solo presentations. Therefore I felt I had to go to Nates session instead. Anyway, it was nice speaking to you at the pub. I just hope the promised podcast will be up soon. I missed the last “hot topics” panel discussion, I heard it was great, so maybe panel would work for me as well.

  12. My previous post sounds almost like the venue was badly organized. I didn’t mean that at all. Just that swedish tend to perhaps have better food and they are always good organizers too. By the way I did have som thai chicken, but it was served in so tiny cups. And I won’t say anything about the water.

  13. June 21, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    kazu: Of course I remember you :-).

    Small Paul: Ah, good to learn that the UK are also going to ban public smoking.

    Rimantas: Yeah the coffee thing is a bit of a problem for me since I am extremely picky. Not expecting miracles, and I’m perfectly happy to sneak outside and buy my own coffee as long as someone is selling decent coffee nearby :-).

    Dan: Let me know next time you visit Sweden and I’ll be your tourist guide ;-).

    Matt: Great meeting you too!

    **David:: Thanks, I’m relieved that you think the panel went well!

    Patrick: Thanks for responding to my comments! I understand that nothing is perfect and that tastes differ, so please don’t take this criticism too hard. Like I said it was a great conference despite what I mentioned here.

    • You may be right that splitting the tracks according to skill level could be difficult.
    • I’m more picky about coffee than anybody I know, so no problem. See my response above :-).
    • I tried the noodles, which were ok. The problem is standing while eating non-solid food. It’s so easy to spill something and make a mess.
    • Sorry to hear about the bar. I thought it was reserved for @media only and that we could have made our own rules for smoking and sound volume ;-).

    Patrick, you did a great job!

    Marcus: Nice speaking to you too!

  14. I agree with all of your comments, Roger - particularly the water and coffee, but also understand Patrick’s explanations (having organised conferences before). At least the loos didn’t need an hour-long queue like last year!

    The lack of WiFi didn’t bother me; I like conferences to be a couple of days respite to think, reflect and talk rather than ferociously tippy-tap into a keyboard as I do for 300+ days a year.

    Similarly, the split tracks worked for me. I’m confident that I’ll find the slides and podcasts on God’s great Interweb (and podcasts are vital as many speakers have only limited words on their slides).

  15. “Ah, good to learn that the UK are also going to ban public smoking.”

    It’ll be great if it happens, but I’ll believe it when I see it…

  16. London has an embarassingly large number of dreadful hotels. The TimeOut guides are excellent for picking quality hotels in major cities, so next time you visit try and check out the guide.

    Re: the food - I thought it was excellent! I agree it was crap coffee though :-)

  17. June 23, 2006 by Daniel Wilkes

    Roger, enjoyed your comments and notes.

    For those reading this, I stayed in the http://londonhotels.jurysdoyle.com/cliftonford_london.

    Company paid for it, but got a deal on last minute.com and it was really good.

    I too agree that the split track system left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. Can the conference not just be extended by a day?

  18. Nice meeting you. Here is a nice pic of yours and Dave that I took. Too bad I didn’t make myself clear enough on the ID naming thing that I tried to explain. Lets try again next year :)

  19. June 26, 2006 by Kenneth Himschoot

    Hey Roger, I hear ya when you’re talking about the Sanctuary House. Man that was a lazy hotel. You were good company though and I hope to see you and your lovely wife again soon.

    Ciao!

  20. What a EVENT! :-)

    I was there, too. It was really amazing. I met a lot of new possible customers - looking forward for some new offers.

    Greetings @media fans!

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