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A Decade Apart

It was ten years ago today that Jeffrey, Jason and I stood up in front of a little over a hundred people in an oversized classroom space in the upper back corner of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, and kicked off the very first An Event Apart.

Just the three of us, talking throughout the single day of the event, trading off talks until lunch and then throughout the afternoon.  The slides, most of them running on S5, were projected onto a pull-down Da-Lite screen, and we tapped the screen with our hands to draw attention to bits of design (or code).  In the audience, there was an attendee who’d flown in from Tokyo, just to be there.  Another from London.  We were staggered to think anyone had come more than half an hour’s drive.

It was as lo-fi as it gets without paper megaphones, and we made a whole slew of rookie organizer mistakes—but we got the essentials right, the same essentials we’ve kept alive all these ten years: present in-depth, practical, higher-level content to an audience of savvy web folks, and treat them right.  As we’ve grown over the years from one day to two to three, and from three speakers to twelve (and sometimes eighteen), we’ve kept one central goal in mind: to create a conference we’d gladly pay to attend, every time.  And while I’m admittedly biased, I believe we’ve pretty much succeeded at that goal.

Ten years, which is a lifetime ago and then some, and still rolling strong.  We’re calling it A Decade Apart, because why wouldn’t we?  To celebrate, we’ll be doing some fun stuff at all our events in 2016, special giveaways on top of the usual giveaways, the return of some audience favorites…but I don’t want to give away too much just yet.  Suffice to say, we’re planning on making this our best year ever, and everything’s shaping up to deliver on those plans.

If you’ve been to a past Event Apart, thank you—and if you have a memory to share, I’d really love to hear about it in the comments.  And whether you’ve been or not, I hope to see you in 2016!

Nine Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 0944
    Michael Hessling wrote in to say...

    I still have my lanyard from Philadelphia 2005.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 1153
    LAFlasher wrote in to say...

    Learned so much when I attended AEA_SF 2011 and to my delight, met my heros Andy Clarke, Jeffrey Zeldman, and you!

    I have attended many conventions in my career but An Event Apart tops them all. Great speakers, great venue, great ambiance, great soundtrack and a wonderful crowd.

    Thank you.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 1307
    Dan Mall wrote in to say...

    I remember that like it was yesterday. So happy to have been a part of it!

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 1412
    Barbara Gavin wrote in to say...

    Congratulations on a Decade Apart.
    And on persevering through thick and thin, while consistently delivering an awesome experience.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 1722
    mary selby wrote in to say...

    I still have my lanyard from Seattle 2011. It was a great experience. I highly recommend it to everyone I work with. I especially like that the presenters come to you, you don’t have to constantly hunt down the next conference room. Thanks!

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Dec 2015
    • 1758
    Bob Monsour wrote in to say...

    Wow! 10 Years? It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

    I was one of those in that Franklin Institute space all those years ago. At the time, I was a volunteer at my son’s relatively new school in New Jersey. I had cobbled together the school’s first real web presence using MovableType. I had something like 9 blogs stitched together to drive the various content sections. I had never built a real website before.

    It was Jeffrey Zeldman’s book on web standards that made me think it was doable. IE 6 was still a reality and I became a quick convert to the web standards movement. And your CSS book got me through the challenging learning curve.

    When the chance came to hear from both of you, as well as Jason, I jumped at it. I had submitted the school site as one to possibly be critiqued, but noted that I was not a professional developer.

    To my surprise, both you and Jason used the site in your critique examples. I was both floored, honored, and perhaps slightly embarrassed.

    I learned a ton from all 3 of you that day. I did a little digging and located this “thank you” email that I had sent to the three of you a day after the event. Here’s what I wrote.


    Jeffrey & Eric,

    Just a brief note of thanks for the event yesterday in Philadelphia. I was honored to have the Princeton Academy site both made-over and marked-over. I greatly appreciate your time and thoughtfulness on both counts. Please feel free to share this with Jason as well as he is apparently really good at keeping his email address unavailable on the web.

    Having been sufficiently enlightened with regard to web standards, just last week I learned of the Firefox web developer extensions and faced the truth of the site’s rampant XHTML invalidity. After yesterday, I could no longer stand the embarrassment and spent time this morning to get the home page (gotta start somewhere) to validate. Thanks to ALA, I located “flash satay” to get past the flash embed issues. Thanks to Eric highlighting the error of my nested lists, which have also been corrected.

    Again, thanks for An Event Apart and the opportunity to participate. Keep up the great work.

    Regards,
    -Bob Monsour

    I continued to maintain the school site until about 3 years ago. Fortunately, they migrated to a more modern platform (as it was operating on MovableType v3 until then). The design is brand new, but the information architecture is largely intact.

    And while I’ve only worked on a handful of sites since that time (mostly for friends and family), I will always have fond memories of those early days of that AEA event.

    And, no doubt, you’ve kept up the great work!

    Warm regards,
    -Bob

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 7 Dec 2015
    • 1218
    Erin wrote in to say...

    I attended my first AEA in 2014 at Orlando Special Edition. Now I look forward to going every year and I am always amazed at how much practical and insightful information I get when I attend.

    If I ever get to the point in my career where I could speak at an AEA event, I’ll know I have arrived!

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Mon 7 Dec 2015
    • 1823
    Rob Weychert wrote in to say...

    I remember that day fondly. Many happy returns, An Event Apart!

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Tue 8 Dec 2015
    • 1848
    Tyler Sticka wrote in to say...

    I attended in San Diego in 2010. I remember being nervous to meet you, Jeremy, Ethan, Jeffrey, Andy and others, but I forced myself say “hi” and ask for photos anyway. Everyone was incredibly gracious and kind, and I learned a lot. It was a wonderful experience.

    Now I work with a frequent AEA speaker every day. Maybe that’s exposure therapy for feeling initially intimidated!

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