Laura Kalbag

New Adventures 2011

Conferences are my social life

As I go to more conferences, I meet more lovely people and get to see friends I’d only ever talk to on Twitter otherwise. In the last two years, I’ve been to about three a year and it feels about the right amount that you rarely see the same talk twice and it’s not just the same topics going round.

Again, I met loads of great people at New Adventures, but unfortunately missed more people than I meant to catch up with. It was such a packed-out venue that it was easy to lose people in the crowds!

The location and venue

It didn’t take too long to get to Nottingham from Surrey. We were lucky that the motorways were reasonably clear and we spent most of our time trying to navigate Nottingham’s one way systems when we got there! It was good to go to a conference outside London but the resulting hotel and petrol costs for me (I can commute to London easily) made it almost as expensive as attending more expensive conferences in London.

The venue, Albert Hall, looked beautiful and made it easy to hear and see the speakers wherever you were sat. For me, the downside to the venue was that I was really cold for most of the day. I know I feel the cold more than most, but it was a bit uncomfortable sitting there in a scarf and gloves. Often conferences are warm environments due to the amount of people in one room so I admit I was probably under-prepared for the wintry day!

The talks


There wasn’t any wi-fi at the conference, which was great because there were less faces hidden behind laptops (it’s really distracting when you’re sitting behind someone writing code!) However, this did mean there was less back channel discussion on Twitter, it was mostly people quoting favourite quotes. It was a bit of a shame as I like the back channel. It gives people the confidence to bring up issues and questions that they wouldn’t necessary ask the speakers in front of the crowd.

I made use of the 3G signal on my phone to make notes on Twitter about the conference, it’s the way I learn and helps me digest ideas (I’m a complete fidget.) I know I’m likely to irritate people by doing it, but a few said they liked to hear some of what was going on so I think it’s much more worthwhile than keeping it to myself. These notes, along with the great tweets from the brilliant @ubelly, helped me form some connections between the ideas and help me understand them better.

(You might want to click the image to see it larger so you can read the really dinky text.)

My notes from New Adventures in Web Design

My notes from New Adventures in Web Design (click to view full size)

Unlike my notes on dConstruct, I wanted to connect the different themes running through the talks as they made the day so much more than just random talks.

Running themes

So many of the talks felt as though they were revolving around connected themes. This made the day feel as though you were getting different sides of the story which suited the half hour slots which might have otherwise felt brief. Particular themes such as user experiences, emotional design, narratives and content-aware design made me feel very grown up. Much like dConstruct, it seems like the conference circuit is moving on from the slightly patronising show-and-tell and instructional talks to more inspiring, motivating and thoughtful discussions on how we can be better and make the industry move forward.

My favourite talk: The New Language of Web Design

I’d say my favourite talk (though I enjoyed them all) of the day was Dan Rubin‘s. The topics of language, communication and terms in the industry felt just right for the audience and the maturity of the conference. Dan is a consistently fantastic speaker and his was the one talk that really stood out as being the perfect amount of exploration into the subjects for the half hour slot.

I’ll be looking out for New Adventures next year…

One thing can be sure, Simon Collison put on a great conference. There was a really friendly, we’re-all-in-it-together, casual atmosphere that was fun and in no way intimidating to new conference goers.

As a lot of the bigger conferences are becoming more expensive with little added value, less expensive conferences like New Adventures are in competition to provide a great time at a freelancer’s price tag. It definitely achieved that, feeling like a premium conference on a very affordable budget.

If there’s a New Adventures next year, I’ll definitely try to be there.


  1. alpower
    @laurakalbag great set of notes!
  2. Great write-up Laura, the conference notes are pretty damn cool, great for recapping the points made throughout the day!
  3. Great synopsis and the conference notes image is very useful thanks!
  4. gicela
    @laurakalbag I love your notes on your new adventures post :)
  5. johanbakken
    @laurakalbag Your conference notes from #naconf and #deconstruct are supreme. So beautiful.