On a tour to Sweden many years ago, Ringo Starr was asked the following question about his role as the narrator in the famous children’s television series:
“Prior to working on Thomas the Tank Engine, what did you do?”
To which Ringo’s humble reply was:
“I was part of a wee band”.
For some reason, this story stuck in my head, not because of Ringo’s humility or the ignorance demonstrated by the interviewer, but rather, by the fact that anyone working away in any industry can get trapped so deep in their own work that they forget that there’s a whole world out there.
In the case of web design that world is changing fast. Much can be self-taught on the web by reading tutorials, viewing videos and demos but in my opinion, the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to attend conferences such as An Event Apart. When asked why I love going to An Event Apart, I always think of Ringo’s interviewer. Perhaps if he had been less obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine maybe he would have heard of the Beatles.
Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer and everyone involved with An Event Apart never fail to impress. Their speaker line-up is always stellar and cutting edge technology is always on the menu. More importantly the speakers are approachable and genuinely nice people. During each others presentation you can find them in the back listening to each other and commenting via blog posts or twitter. How often have you been to a conference where the speaker comes in for his talk and then immediately leaves once done? There’s a sense from both the audience and the speakers, that there’s always something to be learned, no matter how experienced or talented.
As their tagline says, An Event Apart is a design conference for people who make web sites. If you’re in that industry, you should check it out, you will learn something, I assure you.