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Weblog Entry

Web Directions North

September 25, 2006

Sorry to keep you all waiting throughout the weekend, we’ve been chomping at the bit to announce this for the better part of a month now. All these fiddly little last-minute details, and we’re still not quite ready to take registrations just yet. (Very, very close, but not quite 100% yet).

Anyway, here it is. Web Directions, the very conference that starts today in Sydney Australia, is coming to Canada early next year. I’m very pleased to be a part of bringing this great event to my home city, Vancouver. We’ve got a great speaker lineup, and two days of post-conference skiing/snowboarding planned at Whistler, one of the future 2010 Winter Olympics venues. It promises to be a fantastic time for everyone coming.

Mark your calendars, and make sure to get your name on the mailing list; the first 100 people to confirm their registrations get a special discount. Add it to your Upcoming list while you’re at it.

(And a special thanks to folks on Flickr who release their photos with a CC license, particularly Andre Charland, JMV, D’Arcy Norman, sporkist, and Roland Tanglao.)


PatrickQG says:
September 25, 13h

Neat - that’s about a block away from work. Now to persuade them that I ought to go.

September 25, 13h

Awesome news, Dave– congratulations!

September 25, 14h

I wish all of these conferences (IA Summit included) would take place at a time better for those of us who do a lot of government contracts. That’s a really tough period to get away, when all of the work is due before year in March.

September 25, 14h

Great job, guys. Really looks like a great conference and a great lineup of speakers. I wish I could be there, but I don’t think I can afford both it and SXSW (and I’m already registered for SXSW). Maybe next year…

Anyway, thanks for adding one more great conference to the annual schedule!

Dave S. says:
September 25, 14h

Geof, that’s an interesting point. We certainly want to facilitate government attendees as much as possible, and we did talk about ways to make that happen.

Problem was, given that the holidays push into January, and SXSW is in March, and anything after that wouldn’t have worked for the Whistler after-party, our time frame was pretty well decided for us this time ‘round.

September 25, 14h

Dave, thanks for explaining your rationale. It’s always tough to plan a date that will fit everybody’s schedules - actually, I bet it’s near impossible.

Just wanted to chime in from the Yukon, because we’re gov’t heavy up here, and Vancouver conferences are easiest to get to. Maybe next year!

Stv. says:
September 25, 14h

Dave! That’s great! I’m excited! And, um, remind me when registration’s open to register. A good-looking Vancouver Conference!? Who’d’ve ever thought it possible?

Lea says:
September 25, 15h

Oh wow, very tempting. I wonder if I can fit this in with going to SXSW this year. I’m keeping this in mind for sure.

September 25, 15h

I would sure have liked to go other other conferences in recent years, such as SxSW, but couldn’t because of the money involved.

But this is not far from home: I just need to get on the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, and I’d be there! The line up of speakers is looking good, some that I’ve wanted to meet (or see in person) for a long time!

But I’ll have the money to spare, and this is looking like a good opportunity for a first conference to attend!

September 25, 15h

Oh I’m so there.

September 25, 18h

This is fantastic news! I would be even more excited had this been planned for Toronto, but I could use a trip out West. Marked on my calendar and definitely going to try and make it out.

September 25, 18h

Colour me left-coasted. An hour and change from Calgary? How could I not attend. And, I’ll be sure to drag along a few Cowtowners along with me.

September 25, 19h

hey! cool use of my Skyte photo!

I want one of those cool web 2.0 shirts, can I still buy one? Or is that only for WD06 in AUS? I also want a Sony Mylo too! Any chance of repeating that draw?

Scott says:
September 25, 20h

As I’m still a bit undecided about SXSW at this point for ‘07, this might be a good alternative. A bonus being not having to deal with currency exchange and maybe a chance to get Grant to finally hand over some long overdue Veer buttons ;-)

Toronto would be better as Matt said, but BC is cool too.

September 25, 20h

Just out of curiosity, why is the cost so high? The regular price for the conference is $995…Admittedly, there are discounts if you sign up soon enough, but still, why so much? Is it the cost of space at the hotel, or the catering? Then there’s the cost of the seperate workshop - same thing.

I’m not complaining - I’m seriously leaning towards going, if I can spare the money, and I’m sure others would happily spend that much money for two days of meet and greet.

Dave S. says:
September 25, 23h

“Toronto would be better”

Exactly why it’s in Vancouver; time to get more stuff happening out in our neck of the woods, Toronto’s so obvious!


“Just out of curiosity, why is the cost so high? The regular price for the conference is $995”

A few reasons, but the big one is simply venue. Anyone else on the organizing committee can attest to this, we looked long and hard in this city for space that would work for what we wanted to do, and the only ones matching the bill were hotels set up to run conferences. Hotels are in the business of making a profit, so the costs are dramatically higher than those of a university campus, or even likely those of a dedicated conference centre.

However that said, if you compare to similar-sized conferences around the world (and do the currency conversions), you’ll find the prices are comparable. We did our research, we know we’re in the right ballpark.

17
vanni says:
September 26, 11h

Uber-Cooll!…. will be attending.

September 26, 12h

Sounds amazing. I personally can’t wait. The west coast has needed something like this for years.

JF says:
September 27, 21h

Sweet! I will be there!

20
dpiercy says:
September 28, 05h

Ohhhh! I spent 9/7 thru 9/15 @ Whistler, Vancouver and Seattle for vacation. Whistler is really, really fun even in the off season. They fill to capacity in February. LOVED Vancouver as well, Robson St. and Chinatown are tonsa fun. They were/are filming Fantastic Four2, in Vancouver when we were there.

Marco says:
September 28, 09h

Hey Dave.

I’ve been waiting for this type of event to come around this area for a long time. It’s about time Vancouver has an event like this!

Hats off to Derek, Maxine, John and yourself for setting this up.

Perhaps now, I can get Joe to sign my copy of ‘Building Accessible Websites’ ;)

Regards,
Marco

Andrew says:
September 29, 14h

Hi Dave, great news! I’ll be there for sure.

I live up here in Whistler and can give on-mountain geek tours. Secret powder stash anyone?

I’ve emailed the webdirections contact email to hopefully set up special packages for you to offer as well.

Looking forward to it,
Andrew

23
Gerald says:
September 30, 19h

What is the ultimate goal of these conferences?

Meet people from the business and make deals? Learn
new stuff? Exchange ideas?

Why are there no conferences for students that do webdeveloping, computer science, webdesign? There seems to be a big gap between higher education and the commercial conferences, not so?

Does it pay well speaking on conferences?

I guess it is all offer and demand, as long as people come and want to pay, it will be a costely affair.

October 01, 01h

Having just come out of Web Directions South, I can only recommend this northern version to anyone who has an interest in where the web is going. I thought the predecessor conferences in Sydney in 04 (thanks Dave, Doug, Joe etc) and 05 (thanks Eric, Jeffrey, Molly, Derek etc) were outstanding but this one topped even those. Andy Clarke was totally inspiring. Kelly Goto is so practical. Derek Featherstone reminds me why access to the web should be universal. Mike Pesce’s closing session just about lifted my head off.

To answer some of Gerald’s queries: there were plenty of students there, as well as freelancers (like myself), agencies, govt depts, corporations, non-profits and SMEs. I’ve never made a deal at one of these things but I’ve come out of each with resources and inspiration that has had a direct and measurable effect on how I work and what I’ve achieved each year. There’s no way I’d be getting the jobs I get now if not for Kelly’s sessions on work flow and user testing or Jeffrey Veen’s sessions on working with clients. I wouldn’t understand how standards came about, why CSS matters, the evolution of javascript or that Australia has as many people pushing the web boundaries as anywhere else in the world (we get a little self-deprecating about these things down under, y’see).

The big thing for me is that a conference like this places what I do in context, pushes me to achieve more and convinces me that I’m capable of it.

I certainly hope the speakers get well-paid - they deserve it.

If you can get to this event, do.

25
Jean says:
October 01, 16h

Is it a social event above all?

October 03, 15h

I’d describe it more as a series of presentations by industry professionals focused on specific aspects of web design and development.

The presentations are like lectures (although that seems too stern a word). There’s chatting and stuff between the sessions and in the evenings at drinks or dinner, but the sessions themselves are very focused on the topic.

For me, it brought some of the high falutin’ aspects of geeks immersed in obscure code back to earth by showing the presenters to be ordinary people who have become adept at particular things: CSS, APIs, javascript, working with clients, browser limitations, finding design inspiration, microformats, whatever.

A kind of undercurrent theme at the Southern version was “What does Web 2.0 mean anyway, if anything?” And there were some answers, or at least points of view.

That kind of thing becomes an easy topic of conversation with other attendees, and presenters if you can collar them between sessions.

I’ve never been to any of the planned social events or post-session drinkies (you know, wife & kids, travel home, work and all that), but I still feel like I’ve socialised quite a lot and met people that became friends and/or colleagues.

There are probably lots of conferences where that happens - this series just hits the right buttons for me.

Small example - every conference has had at least two sessions on accessibility for people with disabilities, simply because universal access is an underpinning principle that the organisers truly believe in. That fits with the way I think.

27
Jean says:
October 05, 05h

How many of the topics that speakers go over, are not already to be found on some blog earlier that year. Is it not possible to predict certain trends by just keeping up reading lots o’stuff?

October 05, 14h

I have what I suppose is an ironic question, considering that there may be resentations on accessibility for the diabled…Will the conference itself be accessible?

I ask because I am hard of hearing, and have difficulty following presentations in large rooms with lots of people, especially when there is interactive discussion going on between the presenter and attendees.

I could sit close to the front - that’s a typical first step for me, but there are other things to help as well… Will there be loudspeakers? Transcripts? Something to make the actual presentations more accessible to the hard of hearing?

I’d sure like to attend, but am unsure, what with my past experience in attending presentations and such.

October 05, 19h

Grant, I also have a hearing impairment. The Sydney session presenters were radio-miked and easily audible to me sitting in the middle of the auditorium.

During q&a (always in one lot at the end of the session), presenters repeated questions from the audience so that everyone knew what the question was.

Post-session, podcasts are being made available as well speakers’ presentation notes.

Given the involvement of Derek Featherstone as an organiser, I’d be pretty confident WDN will use both technological and procedural means to address as many accessibility issues as possible. As his own session made clear, accessibility is not about meeting pro forma checklists, it’s personal.

Mention your specific needs when you register so the organisers can address them or let you know if they can’t.

Re Jean’s question, it’s perfectly possible that the presenters go over stuff you already know. That hasn’t been the case for me, but maybe I’m not as tapped in as others.

As an example, I’d read a fair bit about Ajax and had a broad notion of what it meant and its application to web development. However, hearing Jeremy Keith explain it and put it into practical context made it much more meaningful. Seeing his own code and how he came to write it made it accessible to me.

Same with APIs, mashups, progressive enhancement, microformats, XFN. I probably should have known more about at least some of this stuff, but now I have both a reasonable grasp of what it means, how to apply it and why.

October 13, 11h

Grant, you ask: “I have what I suppose is an ironic question, considering that there may be presentations on accessibility for the disabled…Will the conference itself be accessible? … Will there be loudspeakers? Transcripts? Something to make the actual presentations more accessible to the hard of hearing?”

The only answer is yes - for Web Directions South, all the speakers were recorded through a lapel microphone and were piped through the auditorium’s sound system. Transcripts of the podcasts will be made available as soon as possible, and I believe we were equipped for an induction loop if needed (it wasn’t).

We’re looking at the same for Web Directions North, and if you have specific needs, feel free to let us know and we’ll do everything we can to make sure the appropriate arrangements are made.

October 21, 14h

Ricky and Derek: thanks for the information. Knowing that there will be support for the hard of hearing makes this decision an easier one.