Had a great time at the Flash Forward Festival. I took tons of notes on most of the presentations, so I decided to write up a short version and a long version.
The SHORT Version
While the official theme of this year’s Flash Forward conference was passion, the serendipitous theme that seemed to come organically from almost every speaker was some version of “don’t be afraid to fail.” Some speakers went so far as to encourage failure in order to find new ideas.
This was the first year that Beau Ambur and Metalliq had taken over the conference from Lynda Weinman of Lynda.com. The choice was made this year to provide a single-track program rather than separate tracks for developers and designers. This seemed to have produced some consternation in the Flash community. Since this was my first Flash Forward, I don’t have a reference for comparison. I can say that I was actually pleasantly surprised by a couple of presentations that if I’d been given a choice of track, I might have missed. Most notable of these, were the presentations of Miha Pogacnik, the cultural ambassador of Slovenia, and Jamy Ian Swiss, a magician. Both were fantastic and made me more tolerant of some the presentations that were not.
Kudos to the organizers for making an effort to be green as well. Our “swag” bag included a reusable water bottle, so we weren’t stuck using and disposing of paper cups. We had decent box lunches from Boudin bakery. Because of San Francisco’s curbside composting, nearly everything out of the lunch boxes could be recycled or composted, so very little had to be thrown away completely. I can’t wait until that program crosses the Golden Gate.
The other change to the format was that presentation durations dropped from 60 or so minutes in past conferences to 22 minutes. Except for the Disney presentation, which seemed to last forever. I think this new one-track approach is admirable in its ambition, and in many ways makes sense given that most of the attendees are both designers and developers and would inevitably miss out by choosing one track over another. Given the complaints of numerous attendees though, I would imagine that the next Flash Forward will provide some sort of compromise between the two approaches.
There were a lot of the fun aspects to the conference outside of the presentations as well. Since moving to another state two years ago and working from home ever since, I’ve been a bit isolated. It was interesting to be with hundreds of “my people.” One got to feel kind of cool, while simultaneously being extremely nerdy. I got to talk with David Stiller at great length and tell him how much I enjoy the tips on his blog. Lee Brimelow was around quite a bit, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to tell him how much I like his fantastic (and free) Flash tutorials on gotoAndLearn.com. Apparently Alessandro Crugnola of SE|PY ActionScript Editor fame was there as well.