New Adventures 2019

Last month, Paul, Mateen and I attended New Adventures – a digital design conference hosted at the wonderful Albert Hall in Nottingham. I’ve not been to an industry conference for a couple of years, and only found out that New Adventure’s had held conferences during the online discussions that took place around their 2019 event. The way it’s pitched as relevant to the internet, rather than a particular technology stack, lends itself well to my present role and the way I see the industry evolving. With these thoughts in my mind, the short, early morning train journey from Leicester to Nottingham provided just enough time for the anticipation to build.

Below are highlights and takeaways from just some of the speakers that took to the stage.

Jeremy Keith

I’ve read a lot of Jeremy’s work, and I had wondered if I’d know the talk he was going to give, or at least elements of it, from reading his other work. I needn’t have worried, as we collectively took a step back from the development world, and the pace layers of the technology of the internet were revealed. Pace layers are a fantastic way of thinking about the interactions and reliances between different elements that create a system, and applicable to almost any situation. I’ve not had much exposure to the infrastructure of the internet for a number of years, but it was interesting to think about it again in relation to the ever changing, cutting edge javascript we apply over the top, and the whole scope in between.

Ashley Baxter

This resonated a lot with me. I’ve seen apps fall flat because the product owner, sometimes through no fault of their own, has taken a product to market too late or with the wrong featureset. Sometimes, a product just answered a problem no one had. The most successful app I’ve been involved with launched as a simple WordPress plugin, offering a limited feature set, while a bigger SAAS platform was built once demand was established. This talk was a good reminder to get things out to the people who use them, and develop the featureset from their feedback.

Brendan Dawes

Brendan’s talk reminded me a lot of the various presentations I’ve seen at MK Geek Night. It may not be immediately forthcoming with it’s relatability, but one can’t help to feel the excitement around technology having listening to Brendan talk about the abstract solutions he poses for what another individual may have provided a typically corporate solution.

Helen Joy

This talk had dozens of takeaways and is still, some weeks later, resonating in my head and impacting on many aspects of my day to day workflow.

Helen started by explaining filter bubbles, and the dangers associated with viewing the world only through your own eyes. Getting out into the field and seeing how users use an application, rather than making assumptions, can be a really powerful tool in making sure your app provides the service that your users need.

It seems obvious now, but Helen was incredibly right to emphasise that inclusivity isn’t limited to, for instance, someone in a wheelchair or who is deaf. It’s affects a whole range of people, from there personal abilities, to situational limitations that may be short term, such as being in a noisy room, or carrying something in one hand while trying to use an app in the other. There was a great example of user who found the app difficult to use, not because he can’t operate a mouse or see the screen well, but that he had to walk through several workshops to reach the computer, at which point someone else might have been using it, and his trip wasted, so he simply didn’t bother.

Ethan Marcotte

It’s no secret that facets of the web are in a mess. This doesn’t discredit from Ethan’s message, but I had hoped to see something like this. It’s increasingly obvious that certain giants of the industry are actively circumventing both legal and moral boundaries in their hunger for data and financial value they can attribute to it. As both a developer of apps and websites, and a general user of the internet, I, like everyone else, have a responsibility to make sure it is used for good, both in the code I write, and by turning my back on products or services that fall short of the standard of privacy and protection we should be receiving.

In summary it was a fantastic event and a real privilege to be there. If New Adventures returns in 2020 then we’ll definitely be hoping to make a repeat appearance.