Last week there were some fantastic web events happening in Dublin which was a pleasure to see and an indication that the Irish web community is alive and kicking more than ever. One which stood out for me was the first RefreshDublin organised by Niamh Redmond. Part of and inspired by the Refresh Cities movement, RefreshDublin is an event that “promotes design, technology, usability and standards“ and aims “to provide a cross-discipline insight into all things design, interactive, creative and technical, so that different disciplines can learn from each other“. Despite being it’s debut event, Refresh started really well. The organisers had managed to create a buzz about the event by choosing some great speakers and topics which were very relevant and hugely topical amongst the Design/Development community.
Eammon Lenoard of EchoLibre gave a great talk on Web Development. It was like an A-Z of useful tips for designing and developing for the web. He spoke about Frameworks, Version Control (those of us still using ftp upload hid behind our chairs), collaborative tools, testing and Cloud computing. Being more of a designer and Frontend developer, I found his talk really useful.
Next up was Sabrina Dent. I saw Sabrina speak at a FOWD event in London during the summer and, much like then, she chose a topic which would ruffle a few feathers. This time it was the current state of Irish web design which she gave a humorous roasting. It bought home to us just how bad some Irish web design can be at the moment. Government and educational sites are the worst culprits and Sabrina spoke about how the need for some kind of shakeup in Irish web design is needed, and not just amongst the web design community but by the leaders of our country who have the ability to start integrating good web design principals into all government websites from local government, emergency services and education. Its as if clients are smothering the standards of design with “design by committee” and lack of knowledge. They need to start engaging with the web community in an effort to learn and prioritize the clean up of web design. She made an interesting point that designers and developers can create fantastic personal websites but when you look deeper into their portfolios at their client projects, the standard dips. It reminded me of this article http://dustincurtis.com/dear_dustin_curtis.html which is well worth a read.
Up next were a couple of the guys from Playhouse Dublin team. The guys bought us through examples of similar projects around the world such as http://www.blinkenlights.net/ and Quad Cubatron. It was interesting to hear how the project was very much a collaborative effort and how there was a vast array of both digital mediums and programming languages working together to make it all work. In my opinion it was one of the nicest digital projects produced in Ireland and they definitely captured the interest of the public. It would have been nice to see a few of the best and favourite examples from the entries but i think time ran out!
Finally, Tim Duggan of Mecury Girl spoke about how they are using Augmented Reality to develop some great apps here in Ireland. He spoke about how AR is opening up a whole world of innovation and how the idea of Tom Cruise in Minority Report isn’t so far away! He also spoke about how AR can not only be used for advertising but also as a really cool educational tool in various areas such as medicine and training and the building of cars (see how BMW used it here.). All really exciting stuff. It was great to see that an Irish company like MecuryGirl are working in such innovative ways.
All in all, the speakers were great and I liked the way there was a group panel question section at the end which provided some interesting insight and debate.
If I were to make any changes to the next Refresh I think I’d like to see each speaker talk for a little bit longer. The 15 minute time slots felt a bit rushed. Maybe even push them to 20-25 minutes each. I liked the way that there was an interesting mix of speakers from different spectrums of multimedia and I think that should be carried through in future events. It would also be nice to see some slightly more in depth topics like Usability in web design, Tips for keeping your skill set and knowledge base up to date, Guide to becoming a freelancer or startup, innovation in frontend development, How Social media is changing the way we design and build sites, Cloud Computing in depth. In terms of people I admire and would like to hear speak, from the Irish web community, I think that that Paul Mckeever of DesignbyFront in Belfast would be great and Paddy Donnelly is a great young designer worth a listen. I also think that Grace Smith would be great to hear from. I think the recession has seen an increase of people biting the bullet starting up their own projects and companies, some of whom are being quite innovative, it’d be great to hear more from them.
What was interesting was that all those who spoke were an example people working either for their own small company or as a freelancer. They all spoke about the importance of doing a job that you love and ensuring that you keep uptodate with both the ever changing world of web and the community that it creates. Refresh feels like it could be a great place to do all those things. I saw some familiar faces and some new ones and I also learnt some great new things. I was an evening very well spent and I look forward to the next RefreshDublin.Tags: events, RefreshDublin