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The Unheard Word

One woman's slightly skewed views

The people of Web Directions South ’06

It’s already two weeks after the event, so it’s about time I put pen to paper (so to speak) and blogged about Web Directions South. (Actually, it’s about time I blogged about anything at all, it’s been so long!)

Plenty of people have talked about the sessions and how much they gained from them. I’ve found it fascinating to see the different areas in which different people found value.

For myself, because of my hearing (or lack thereof) it’s not so much about the sessions: it’s about the people.

Having attended Web Essentials in both ’04 and ’05, I had already met quite a lot of really lovely people associated with the conference in varying capacities. Of course, when attending conferences like this one, with a large bunch of fellow geeks, I know I am going to meet people with whom I will have quite a lot in common. Nevertheless with some people — well, you just “click”, more so than with others. It is great to look back on how these friendships have developed and matured over time, and on the new ones in the making. I have made some very special friends and met some very special people.

Take Lisa Miller and Lisa Herrod, for example. I met these two beautiful young women at Web Essentials ’04 and over the last two years have developed the utmost respect and admiration for them both. They are beautiful inside and out, but not only that, they’re super smart and super knowledgeable — but neither is one who tends to blow their own trumpet. They are both awesome Australian women who belong in the forefront of our industry.

Maxine Sherrin: a heart of gold and an acutely sharp businesswoman, and a web standards and CSS expert. She is totally on the ball — one of those exceptional, switched on people on whom you just know you can count. And she has really been “there” for me in a special way.

Molly Holzschlag: oh, what can I say? I consider every minute spent in her company to be something precious. She is simply lovely: strong and honest and with the most amazing mind, and as I said before, I want to be like Molly when I grow up…

Sarah Isaacson: we met for the first time this year in the capacity of roomies. Thank goodness, we clicked from the word Go. It could so easily have been a disaster but we got on soooooooooo well and I believe I’ve made a friend for life. She is beautiful, smart, strong, thoughtful and loyal — and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to become close to her.

Sara Lander: totally gorgeous, so easy to talk to, so darned smart, simply awesome. (I told her hubby, John Allsopp, he has competition. He didn’t seem worried. He’s pretty awesome too. 🙂 )

Laurel Papworth: I really enjoyed her presentation (what I heard of it!) on building online communities. She is a great speaker with some interesting and clever ideas. And a fun person. She utterly delighted me when I got a chance to talk with her personally. We have such gems in our web women and so many of us are totally unaware they even exist… until people like Maxine and John make it possible for them to share their knowledge and themselves with us.

Gian Sampson-Wild: her freshness and enthusiasm almost took me by surprise. She is great company, great to talk with. Her expertise in the area of web accessibility (my own area of specialisation) meant we would have a fair bit in common… I can tell you, I really regret not being able to hear well because I would love to have spoken in greater depth with all these wonderful women of the web.

So far I’ve really only mentioned women — and there are more that come to mind but if I mentioned them all I’d be writing forever. But truthfully, it’s for the women I went. Due to other stuff happening in my life right now, I really craved the company of women, especially like-minded women. Actually I was thrilled to see such a large proportion of female conference attendees. And I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of getting to know some of them.

Of course I met some fantastic men too, such as Andy “Malarkey” Clarke, Jeremy Keith and Thomas Vander Wal, and I got to see my dear (if evil) friend Derek Featherstone again. They are all exceptional speakers and we were very lucky to have them with us. The guys from SitePoint were all awesome too (and boy do they know how to give a great party!) and it was a treat to meet The Man in Blue and Toolman Tim. How amazing to meet all these “names” in real life! And lovely people I’ve met before like Gavin Jacobi, Amit Karmakar and many many more. But I can’t say too much about what I really think about these wonderful and gorgeous men for fear of upsetting their partners or whoever… Suffice to say, I’d like to say more! 😉

There are lots more special people that I met and spent time with (and one in particular, Peter Firminger, who I missed a lot) but this would go on forever if I mentioned them all.

It all brought home to me in a major way that the web industry is about people. It’s about us, the people who work in it, and it’s about the people who use our products and creations. We know that already, of course, but there is nothing like experiencing a conference like Web Directions ’06 to make it sink in.

I’ll upload my photos (the publishable ones, anyway!) onto Flickr after I get around to uploading the second half of my TODCon pics…

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9 Responses to “The people of Web Directions South ’06”

  1. Malarkey Says:

    It was fantastic to meet you too, next time won’t come soon enough.


  2. Cameron Adams Says:

    It was a treat meeting you too Vicki (not sure how I hadn’t done it before). Even more of a treat to see you on the dancefloor 😀

  3. juanita audit-teacake Says:

    Vicki . . on the dance floor !? nevahh ! .. tis unheard of the, unheardword dancing ?? !!..

    does anyone out there have pics ??? 🙂

  4. Molly E. Holzschlag Says:

    What can I say to that other than I LOVE YOU VICKI!

    xoxoxoxoxo always,

  5. Vicki Says:

    Andy and Molly: maybe if I make it to the U.S. next year I’ll find you both in the same place at the same time and we’ll be able to catch up again, even before WD07?! Fingers crossed…

    Molly: you brighten my life, more than you could know. You really do! *HUGS*

    Cameron: I had conveniently forgotten that particular aspect of that night. I do NOT dance. Everyone knows I do not dance. I am the most boring person at a party. I don’t know what happened that night. (But I am told I behaved myself. Haha.)

    Juanita: there are no pics. Don’t even bother looking. 😀

  6. Lisa Miller Says:

    Vicki, it was fantastic to see you again and I will have to come across to WA before WD07 – catching up once a year is not enough!

    I am sure there are some pics of you dancing 🙂

  7. Gavin J Says:

    Good grief! It has been nearly three weeks since WD06! Where did that go?

    You have shamed me into an update!

    And yes, there ARE pics… (cue: evil grin)

  8. Matthew Magain Says:

    Was great to meet you too Vicky. Glad you enjoyed the party!!

  9. Laurel Papworth Says:

    Hello sweetie! I’m glad you enjoyed my preso. And yeppers, the post-conf party was even more fun! I can’t remember everything tho… o.O

    I noticed that you mentioned you had trouble hearing my presentation. What can I do to be more accessible to the hearing impaired? And the first person who responds with “Shout?” will get smacked. Roolytrooly. I noticed there is a tendency to move away from text on the slides to images only, I wonder if that is not such a good idea? Ah well, rambling pre-kawfee and breakfast. Loveyawork hon. Cheers.