The first thing I identified as I entered the conference location was that I was, undeniably, a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Here I was, a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student interested in content creation and management amidst a sea of designers and developers.
In fact, that was the most asked question: “So, are you in design or development?” My most offered answer? “I’m a blogger…” Actually, I really wanted to have a shirt or a badge that said, “No, I’m not just a blogger. I am ‘in content’…” or something like that. I then thought it might be cool to have a button saying “Sure, you can code, but can you write?” as a way of setting a challenge to my fellow attendees.
Edge of the Web is run by the AWIA (Australia Web Industry Association) and, as such, I can understand the focus being more finite than I might have hoped for.
The event gave me the chance to sit up the back of a room and listen to some of the best in the web industry give us their take on where we’ve been and where we’re heading. The two days crammed so much information into my brain that, unfortunately, by the end of it all I was afraid my brain was leaking out my ears. I took as extensive a set of notes as I could handle. Sadly, my typing speed, which is pretty good, was unable to keep up with all the great ideas being spread around like chocolate icing on a delicious mud cake of theory.
Essentially, I took away that we are hurtling at a great rate of knots toward a world where the end user is going to want more and more choices in the responsive design of the interfaces they are using. We may not be able to keep up with all the available platforms out there. So what do we do? We can try and keep up with it all, or we can do our best in what we know.
Another big issue that was being talked about a lot was the contentious point of outsourcing. Some saw it as an opportunity to create breathing space in order to work on those elements of a project you have a specialty in, allowing others to work their magic in their field of expertise. Others saw it as a path to the Dark Side and inevitable unemployment. As something of a freelancer, I can certainly see both sides of the argument. I would love to have a company with whom I have a working and sustainable relationship of give and take (they give me the work and I take it), but I can also see why that may not always work for them and why they may need to keep the content writing more in-house. It’s a bit surprising that there are arguments arising about it now, but I guess the freelancer or flexible work situation is growing in popularity, if not here in Perth then certainly elsewhere.
I also got the chance, on the first day, to catch up with a university colleague. It was nice to be able to put a face and voice to some words on a screen. We are both studying externally, mostly through online means, so it was nice to have some kind of face-to-face time. (Hi Rosie!)
So, would I go again? Most probably. While I may not have been their target audience, I certainly gained a lot of information – most of which I feel is still settling into place. Would I suggest others to go along? If you’re in the web industry, hells yes! If you’re in a related field, possibly. It was very focused on, as I said, a design/developer stream. I did suggest that next time round they include a “miscellaneous” stream for those of us who may not be strictly from those fields. Only time will tell.
You can read more about the Edge of the Web conference on Twitter, under the #EOTW and #EOTW2012 tags, and also here at their site.