You should've been @media - part 1

@media 2005 was far, far more interesting than I'd expected, and I had high hopes to begin with. I met a lot of interesting and nice people, I was pleasantly astonished by the number of people that know my work, and I found distinct, unmistakable evidence that JavaScript is emerging from the wilderness and is ready to play its proper role in modern, standards based web development, even though its relation to accessibility has to be re-thought from the ground up.

@media was more than great: it was necessary. Patrick Griffiths, thank you for making all this possible. See you next year.

Getting together

An important function of conferences is to meet other people, to just chat about stuff and be surprised at what turns up. In that respect @media was a total success, both for me personally and for the European web development community as a whole. North America has SxSW, Australia has Web Essentials, now Europe has @media.

It was strange and exciting to perceive web development on the personal level instead of on the technical, work-related, anonymized level. After sitting behind my computer being This JavaScript Guy for a few hours I'd go off to the pub with my friends, who hardly know what a browser is. That's fine most of the time, but it's not enough, as I found during the past few days. Do other people feel the same? Have we European web developers worked too much on our own?

@media allowed us to get to know each other personally, and I enjoyed every moment of it. As often happens, the conversations during the beer hours were as interesting as the presentations, and a lot of people said a lot of sensible things they probably wouldn't have written at home behind their computers, outside the general atmosphere of excitement and talk (and beer).

In another, even more important, way it allowed us to become more professional in our relations. Take Patrick Griffiths and Dan Webb on the one hand, and me on the other. I felt — and feel — that their Suckerfish Dropdowns script is conceptually incorrect. Patrick and Dan obviously disagreed, and we got a bit annoyed at each other. Now that I actually met both of them any personal animosity that might have existed has evaporated, and we've become just these guys who're all into modern JavaScript but happen to disagree on a technical point. That's better, much better.

Beer

I had a lot of interesting beers conversations, some of which I'll mention as my @media coverage progesses. Unfortunately I'm very good at remembering faces, but rather bad at remembering names, and though I recognized some of your names I couldn't right away connect them to a website. Finally, the amounts of beer we swallowed has made my brain even more hazy. I simply cannot place some people I talked to. I'll probably recognize you next year, but please remind me of your names. Also, I talked too little with some people I did know. We'll find another opportunity (and more beer).

Speaking of beer, on Friday night I made the tactical error of trying to keep up with Molly Holzschlag, and although we got each other excited about the prospect of dinner we didn't actually take any action.

Add this error to the deplorable lack of coffee in London and yet more oceans of beer at the ungodly hour of 1pm, and you'll understand why I was rather vague in the head on Saturday afternoon, when I found myself the chairman of the promised JavaScript get-together that turned out to have about twenty five participants and discussed quite different things than I originally intended. Fortunately the discussion pretty much ran itself and it had interesting conclusions (read Jeremy's summary for now, I'll get back to this later). Nonetheless some of the people who were there will have noticed I didn't communicate as much as I could have. Sorry for that.

ego.boost()

Both Douglas Bowman and Jeremy Keith made me present myself to the audience; and in doing so Douglas grouped me with Faruk Ateş, Veerle Pieters and Roger Johansson; and not for my design qualities, I assume. It was a heady experience, and once more it made the whole web development business I'm in more personal.

(Roger later told me we've been colleagues of a kind back in 2000-2001, when he worked for the Swedish branch of Framfab and I for the newly acquired Dutch branch. He wasn't at the legendary Malmö party in 2000, though, so I could not possibly have met him before. Roger, do you remember the code the bloody wankers who were supposed to be Framfab's sysadmins used for web development in the centralized time registration system?)

I met only three people who didn't know who I am. One was immediately corrected by a colleague, the second one apologized profusely, and when the third one came around not knowing who ppk is had acquired an exciting novelty value.

Thank you all for your kind words, even though I haven't talked to you nearly as much as I should have. Although I knew intellectually that my site is an important resource for JavaScript problems, having so many people say it in person made me actually feel it for the first time.

I very briefly talked with someone who uses my site for giving JavaScript courses. Please contact me; I'd like to know what I should change in my site to make it a better education tool.

To be continued

That's all for now. Most of my personal recollections have been covered, and it's time for a summary of the accessibility, CSS and JavaScript discussions we've had. Unfortunately those will have to wait for a while. I started processing notes when I came home after six hours on the train, then decided to write this personal part first. It's Monday already, and time for a well deserved rest. I still have loads of notes to process, and I want to gather other participants' blog entries on @media before continuing.

Expect the next part later this week.

PS: @media 2005 photos are being gathered. Please add yours.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by Jeremy Keith on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

It really was great to finally meet you. I know exactly what you mean about the social interaction making a difference to online communication. Putting a face to a blog makes an enormous difference.

Roll on @media 2006!

2 Posted by Dante on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

I will really try to make it to @media 2008/9! (Though, it would be a miracle if I had enough money to do so). Glad to hear you had fun, PPK.

As to your site as an educational resource, I used it for a demonstration of JavaScript's powers once in a presentation to a small group of people at my school. There's not a whole lot to improve on; maybe more detailed examples of the script.

3 Posted by Roger Johansson on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

Oh I remember the crappy coding practices all too well. It wasn't just the time reporting system, it was in everything. Being a Mac user in the extremely Microsoft-centric Framfab was horrible. I banged my head against the wall for a while trying to make at least some people realize the importance of building websites that work for all, but it was a couple of years too early I suppose.

Good to finally meet you btw :-)

4 Posted by 4rn0 on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

Wow, sounds like I really missed something: hopefully I'll be able to make it next time around! Also, I'm very much looking forward to your JavaScript get-together report.

5 Posted by Derek Featherstone on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

It was a pleasure to meet with you ppk... after our JavaScript meeting of the minds on Saturday, I really feel like something big is happening and that we really have some good momentum upon which to build. Looking forward to the next year...

6 Posted by Faruk Ateş on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

It was great meeting you! You weren't really how I expected you, but that's a compliment as you were even Much cooler than I expected. :-)

A shame I couldn't have gone to the JS meeting on saturday. :(

7 Posted by ppk on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

Jeremy, Derek, Roger, Faruk, great to meet you in person.

Roger, I didn't mean the crappy code practices in general, but the three-number code they assigned to the task "web development". It was rather insulting and humiliating. If you've never seen it, be glad.

8 Posted by Jeremy Ruston on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

I'd like to add my voice to the chorus: QuirksMode.org has been a fantastic resource for me as I've been getting to grips with the cross-browser challenges of DOM scripting (Douglas Crockford's site being the other piece of essential reading).

The meeting was excellent: I was surprised at the missionary zeal around the table for evangelizing this stuff. I wonder though whether the best way of spreading the word isn't just for us all to build breathtakingly great stuff.

Just a shame that I had to leave so early, particularly before I had a chance to meet everyone. But at least I can put faces to some names now.

9 Posted by Roger Johansson on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

Ah, *that* code. Nope, don't remember seeing it. I may have forgotten about it though ;-)

10 Posted by ppk on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

Then you haven't seen it at all.

The code was ... 404!

11 Posted by Chris Heilmann on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

I still think we should have done the Kung Fu Fight pictures.

It was good to meet up and realise that clever people can work together albeit having had difficulties and misunderstandings in the past.
Even better when it works with us, too! :-)

order=new pint();

12 Posted by Faruk Ateş on 13 June 2005 | Permalink

PPK, how is one supposed to get my name done here properly on your site? You're not using UTF-8 but I reckon that eventually you'll succumb to doing so anyway. Should I just use HTML entities in the Name field? :P

13 Posted by vinzzz on 14 June 2005 | Permalink

took me to page 4 before i saw your picture :D

14 Posted by Andy Budd on 15 June 2005 | Permalink

Hi PPK,

It was a pleasure to finally meet you. Shame we didn't have much time to chat. Hopefully next year.

15 Posted by Jo on 15 June 2005 | Permalink

PPK,

You should maybe organise a similar event in Amsterdam or at least be one of the speakers @media 2006!

But I see you got a positive stimulans attending @media 2005 ...

16 Posted by Faruk Ateş on 17 June 2005 | Permalink

Jo,

I'm already working on organising a similar event in Amsterdam :) And I got some of the speakers interested in speaking there, too. :))