@media2016 - a glimpse into the future

19th Jun 2006

I've seen the future of @media. There's no use complaining about the double tracked presentations because they're only going to multiply in number. And if you thought the beer was expensive at £3.75 for a tiny bottle of 'gnat-piss for neds' then start saving your pennies now, 'cos they ain't gettin' any cheaper. Expensive beer aside, the beauty of an event like @media is undoubtedly the networking element: being able to talk to someone about web design without them falling asleep. Of course the presentations provide the perfect interlude to the conversations which ensue: the nourishing fodder for those (sometimes first) face-to-face meetings with friends (virtually old and new) whose blogs you've been reading for ages. Talking is the future.

With impressive effort, Patrick Griffiths and his Vivabit collaborators clearly got the balance of the talks right, especially after last year's tentative inaugural event where we were enlightened on the subjects of how to use HTML and CSS with standards in mind. Pitches were aimed higher this year and as a result were a resounding success. And this suggests that as the quality of presentations increases so too will the range of subjects on offer. In future years we'll be seeing diverse and sometimes very specialist subject areas on discussion delivered to just a handful of hardcore enthusiasts. Mind you keynotes will still be delivered to a packed room by big guns, like Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. And in ten years I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Jon Hicks opening the event. His very pleasant manner in public speaking would go down well; I liked his style.

In his first presentation Jon Hicks lead a panel of experts in discussing 'Good Design V Great Design'. Lots of interesting points were made but in a slightly shambolic way; not particularly anyone's fault either, just a format issue. The idea of listening to four professionals discuss a subject sounds ok on paper but it in the flesh it didn't work. Paradoxically, the final 'Hot Topics' panel did seem to work better. So what was the difference? Well, in a nutshell: audience participation. And in ten years time @media2016 will focus on punter interaction. Technology will have developed so much by then that hanging around for a microphone before asking a question will be another one of these fondly reminisced scenarios. Instead, we will use our mobiles. With (reliable) WIFI, we will be able to broadcast our questions via the microphone in our handheld devices. While our words are transmitted through the airwaves they will also be subtitled (with speech-to-text technology) onto the big screen, at once providing a more accessible discussion forum. With the use of Microformats programmed into your mobile, displayed next to your question will be your name, photograph and website. And like most instant messengers today, copies of these discussions will be recorded and transcribed for instant (and future) reference. So make sure you don't stutter or ask a daft question.

Yes, it's clear to me that this whole discussion thing is going to be huge in the future... well, it's what we all want to do after all, innit? So, aftershow parties will still use specially booked licensed venues (payed for by the punters through exorbitant alcohol prices) to talk. But what we'll get is an environment without the banging music: a place where we can actually communicate verbally without having to bellow into the ears of folk like Dan Champion, Karl Dawson, Jim O'Donnell, Jon Gibbins, Gez Lemon, Mike Davies, Jack Pickard, Andy Saxton, Ann McMeekin, Sandy Leonties, Steve Urmston and Jon Irvine, Richard Stephenson and Peter Lambert. Great talking to you guys.

Here's to talking about web design and to the future of web design discussion.

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@media2006, @media

web design