Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Outsider?

The title of this post is rather too heavy but I happen to like the story The Outsider very much. Whilst attending DConstruct07 I was made to feel very welcome and it was well organized. So why did I use this title.

  1. I do not own a MacBook or any computer made by Apple (apart from an AppleIIe but I like old stuff).
  2. I have often worked on the design and front-end of websites but this is not the main part of my job.
  3. I don't know the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop and would use The Gimp for any graphics I generated or altered (not very skillfully).
  4. My network of contacts at the conference was restricted to people I worked with.
  5. I have not heard of any of the 'famous' names that were there (or rather had no previous reason to remember them).

At one point I wandered up to the Laptop recharging points and thought I had walked into an Apple store. Obviously many of the attendees would consider themselves designers rather than developers. This also means that many of the attendees are working at a sort of "meta" level when they are interacting with online communities. Their understanding of network and community interaction online is often via communities and networks that are around the business rather than those of people who do not work in the business. Many of the attendees also work in companies that cater for web business which is not the same as working for a company that merely has an online presence. I am quite sure that most are aware of this but it is a distinction that should be made.

Having said all this the conference was not too design orientated and had interesting elements and ideas for all those involved in Internet work. It is interesting that clear distinction is made between roles these days but that where I work a number of people with very different skills and interests have the title "developer". Even more interesting is that these people may have started a few years ago with very similar skill sets but overtime as the Internet has become more complex it has forced differences. Would you hire a contractor who claimed to be a DBA, Enterprise Java Wizard and skilled designer of websites, if he was telling the truth could you afford him?

My own "Aha!" moments concerning things like RSS, tagging, online communities etc. came from doing things outside of work (yes I understood these things intellectually before that, but hadn't felt the benefits where it counted). I think it is important that people who work online have ways to keep up to date, you can't just put it down as something the youngsters are doing because it moves too fast (remember many intelligent business managers resisted e-mail at first). For somebody who doesn't spend too much time at the front end then attending a conference like Dconstruct can be a part of that process, perhaps even more important is to keep playing out there no matter what your age or position.

In conclusion was I an outsider? No not really, whilst my 'network' is unlikely to be expanded and I am not about to get snapped up by some new media startup the conference did engender some new thoughts and viewpoints.

No comments: