I just returned from an amazing weekend. FITC, formerly called Flash in the Can, just finished up and I am back at my cube here at 601 Townsend. I am resisting the urge to be cliche, but have to say that this was the best Flash conference I have ever attended. I could easily let this statement go unqualified and let you read the numerous other accounts of the conference, but here is a little overview of the conference and why I think it well deserves this moniker.
First, let me say that this doesn’t make any of the other conferences necessarily bad. I have had the great benefit of speaking and attending other conferences and can honestly say that most of them are well put together and well worth the money you may spend attending them. But, I believe FITC deserves special recognition.
You may be asking, what do I judge a conference by? The first would be the organization and planning of the event. Everything at FITC not only looked well organized and thought out in advance, but it felt that way. The programs and brochures that were handed out were well published and designed. The facilities were clean, organized, and maintained throughout the event. The volunteers seemed to be very informed about day-to-day events and contributed greatly to hiding the complexity involved in ushering around the speakers and attendees and keeping the machine well oiled.
What would a conference be without being able to meet great people and catching up with good friends? There was no shortage of new people to meet. The population of the conference was made up of individuals from all over the world and who represented all aspects of the Flash design and development community. It is always fun to become acquainted with new faces, and find out what kind of projects people are working on. As I have attended numerous conferences over the past few years I have been able to become good friends with many people, and these conferences become somewhat of a reunion. Probably everyone I know was at FITC and we were all able to catch up and see how each other were doing, and probably have a little too much fun playing Xbox and until the wee hours of the night.
The sessions were diverse, well thought out, and presented well. Sometimes conferences lean too much in one direction. They may focus on more design and less development, or vice versa. And those that attempt to be more balanced really water down the selection of sessions to appeal to many crowds, which leaves many people wanting more. FITC had the best of the best in each field. The presenters obviously took there presentations seriously, which paid off well for those of us watching them. I came away truly feeling like I had been enlightened on topics that I might not have researched otherwise.
There was no shortage of evening events this year, and were a great time to really kick back with some of the people you meet throughout the day. Every night there was something to do and somewhere to go. The first night we had the speaker’s dinner, which was at an old church that had been converted into a club of sorts. Despite the somewhat irony of the location, it was a fun event where I met many new people and caught up with some old friends. In general, the conference treated the speakers with a great deal of respect and always made sure we were taken care of.
The second night we pretty much spent it playing Xbox and just hanging out in Mike’s room. All I will say is that Sam Robbins and I won the mini Halo tournament (Sam’s talent definitely carried us through, I try to avoid playing him online, he is deadly with the battle rifle.) The last night we were there, we had the FITC Awards show which was the most well put on Flash awards show I have attended. The bumper videos that introduced each of the categories looked like they came from the Oscars, and despite Hoss’ reading the wrong winner for the wrong category (this is the second year in a row that he did this!), the event was without any major hiccups. Hoss hosted the event and put on a great show as usual. I doubt there is any time I have seen him on stage where I do not go away laughing. There was a general jovial attitude and I think everyone had a good time. After the awards show we attended a party put on by Craig Swann of CrashMedia at a new club called the Rupublic. They had a few awesome technical presentations of some experiments a few guys put together. The displayed them on the 20 or so plasma screens that were hovering and rotating above the main floor of the club. They then started the music, and not many people I saw were really kicking back and dancing. I think Mike tried a few moves, but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them.
There is one thing that really can’t be quantified, but many times I judge a conference on how I feel the day after. I have been developing Flash applications for quite a while, and sometimes fall susceptibleto the lure of being comfortable with my current skill set and not challenging myself to move outside of predefined boundariesthat I place on myself. I go to the conferences not usually worrying about what sessions to attend, but being more concerned about what materials I should present that those who attend my sessions might benefitfrom. This isn’t to say that I do not find valuable information in sessions I have attended before or go into these sessions with an open mind. But, this really is representative of a general attitude by which I prepare myself for these events.
So how do I feel today? This conference greatly challenged what I do and what I create. It wasn’t any single event or session that does this, but more the whole event andatmosphere. Today I keep thinking to myself: take some risks! Now, you probably will not see me radically changing in the future and start designing multimedia art installations. But, I know that I will try to more honestly look at ways in which I can step outside the general logic patterns that have been formed over years of programming and see where I can apply new techniques and behaviors. Maybe this will manifest itself as a different workflow, more experimentation in projects I create, or just a change in how I approach solving problems in my day to day work. My intuition tells me it is the latter, and that it will affect all other aspects of what I do. There is no doubt that this thought alone is what drives me giving it the ‘best ever’ moniker. I hope I can give it the same designation next year.
I again just wanted to publicly thank Shawn Pucknell and his team for putting on this great conference. There is no doubt that I will be there next year.