January 2012

Hello again

One wet afternoon in April, I was sat in The Gladstone with my good friend and collaborator Greg Wood — making light work of pale ales — when the conversation came around to New Adventures.

Despite the success of the first event, I’d pretty much decided not to do it again. I was proud of the conference, and it’d been great fun to put together, but logistically dealing with PayPal had threatened the whole event, and I couldn’t imagine jumping through those hoops again. Besides, it was a unique day so maybe it should stand as a one-off.

Greg seemed surprised. Even so, I wasn’t for turning. It was at this point that he convinced me to stay, for yet more beer, and over the next hour or so I was brainwashed. Initially, I resisted, knowing I couldn’t do it alone this time around but he was more than happy to offer his help. And so that was that, and here we are. In fact, Greg’s responsible for many key aspects of this whole event, and you’re only here today because of him. If that makes you happy, be sure you give him credit. He won’t welcome it, so please do it to annoy him.

Reflecting on 2011

In last year’s paper, I described New Adventures as an experiment, and an opportunity to facilitate discussion, ask questions and seek outcomes. The response was wonderful, and in some ways, we succeeded. Yet, in other ways perhaps we failed. On the day, the discussion was limited, the Q&A was hard work, and we made a few mistakes.

However, I do think we found outcomes, and it was incredibly rewarding to see ideas resonate beyond the Albert Hall and out across the industry. It’s likely that these topics would have found traction without New Adventures but we created the platform and it was a thrill to see ideas such as Mark Boulton’s New Canon, and Dan Rubin’s explorations into web vocabulary permeate other events and publications throughout 2011.

Above all, what hit me the most was the generosity of all involved, and I don’t just mean the speakers, sponsors, suppliers, or volunteers; each vital components of this whole circus, to whom we are extremely grateful. No, I’m referring specifically to you, the attendees. Every person who bought a ticket invested in us, trusted us, and wanted the thing to work. That alone is reason to do it all over again. Look around you this year and again we have great support from across the UK, but also folks have travelled from all corners of Europe, yet more from the States, and even one from Australia (do say hello to Kylie).

Great expectations

I was fortunate to travel a lot myself last year, and everywhere I went people would ask about New Adventures. That we could fill a hall in a provincial English city and have people take notice across the industry is incredible. Many speakers really want to come here and share their ideas with you, but we’ve again been very careful about who we invite to take our stage. There’s a mix of established and new presenters, many flying in especially for the event, and we’re very excited with the content we have for you. Our speakers have worked incredibly hard to match, and hopefully exceed, your expectations and they’re also super-nice, so don’t be afraid to catch them for a quick chat.

Last year, I also wrote about how valuable conferences treat audiences with great respect, assuming a level of shared knowledge, with talks that make attendees work a bit harder; the full impact not necessarily hitting us until days, weeks or months later. For the most part, I think we achieved that last year, but there’s always room to take things up a notch.

Alongside the talks, there are a few nice surprises, and new events in the program. We’ve introduced workshops for deeper learning and sharing of ideas. Also, most of the speakers will be available after their talks for Q&A in smaller groups, so you have the chance to get a little closer and ask your burning questions directly.

Ultimately we want you to get real value for your ticket, so, alongside all of that we’ve again got the incomparable Erskine Bowling, the inaugural Fr00tball championships, screen printing classes and, last but not least, there’s the world’s best after-party. For those of you who are coming along on your own, remember that web conferences are truly very friendly, and the social side is arguably just as important as the presentations. We hope you’ll go home having made a bunch of new friends, just as we will.

And finally

Finally, we know you loved the newspaper, and we wanted to try something different this year. So, instead of articles, we’ve collaborated with our speakers to bring you three in-depth interviews covering a broad spectrum of mind explosions. Huge thanks to each and every one of them for giving up their time whenever I cracked the whip and asked for more.

So, welcome to Nottingham and thanks for joining us. We want New Adventures to feel fresh, relevant, and be full of opinion. Just like you, we need to feel excited and energised by web design, and start our year with a myriad of reasons to embrace creativity and strive to make meaningful things.

I know that when I take to the stage at 9.30am to kick things off, I’ll look out at 650 very good reasons and realise that Greg was right after all. I’m glad you’re all here.


Simon Collison

Simon is a designer, writer, speaker, and director of New Adventures. He's been making digital products for two decades, and believes designers should bear a greater responsibility for what they create, and draw from a more diverse array of inputs.


This article was commissioned for our January 2012 magazine. Like it? View all articles, grab our RSS feed, and subscribe to our newsletter.