EXPERIENCE is important. So if you haven't got some, it's sometimes really handy to soak up someone else's.
That’s basically the idea behind the Industry conference, an event in which web professionals will gather to hear stories of those with an interesting background giving the benefit of their years in the business.
“I wanted to get people together so they could talk about their experiences,” said conference founder Gavin Elliott.
“Industry has real content that people can learn from, act on or innovate with.
“It’s about the things we need to know to be successful in the industry, or things we can use to be successful, passed on by people who have done it.”
Elliott has worked in the web industry for several years, most recently as the product designer for Sunderland-based Happiest. He’s best known as the conference producer for the DIBI web conference in 2010 and 2011. Elliott says his time at North East digital sector group Codeworks helped him to learn some important secrets of decent conference building. I did two DIBIs and helped out with two Thinking Digitals and a Gamehorizon. [Codeworks CEO] Herb Kim taught me all about the science of running a good event. It was a great place to learn.”
Industry will appear for the first time on September 26 at the Turbine Hall near the Manors Metro stop, in a space that once housed the turbines which powered the city’s trams. Tickets go on sale today.
The conference will be prefaced by a one-day workshop by author and developer John Allsopp on September 25. It will then feature eight speakers from a variety of backgrounds, discussing experiences and ideas they’ve picked up over the years.
These include Twitter’s principal designer Josh Brewer, the University of Ulster’s interactive design teacher Christopher Murphy, Brokers Direct company director Ashley Baxter and Noah Stokes of San Francisco design and development studio Bold.
It will also feature Julie Ross, who is currently looking at the technology to link partners to Kiva, a non-profit organisation which aims to help people provide loans of $25 and up to help alleviate poverty.
Allsopp – who wrote A Dao of Web Design in 2000 – will also be speaking, while the line-up is rounded off by APCO Worldwide’s Rasika Krishna and Hipstamatic creator Kevin Smith.
“I wanted to bring designers and developers together in one room so they could learn from each other in an environment that fosters learning,” said Elliott. “Instead of having one hardcore developer and one hardcore designer track, I wanted the talks to be presented in a slightly storified way so designers could understand what developers were talking about, and vice versa.
“For example, Noah is talking about those zero to $50,000 mistakes you make when you’re starting something up in the industry, and he’s made those mistakes because he’s been there.”
When it came to building up his lineup of speakers, Elliott decided to throw it open to submissions, calling on interested parties to make their pitch for a slot back at the end of the year.
“More people needed to be able to speak. You see a lot of the same faces at talks in the industry, and that’s been the case for a long time. It was in December when I announced there would be speaker submissions. I was looking for about five. I ended up with 52, with 42 men and 10 women. I was nearly in tears trying to pick the final line-up, because I knew these people really wanted to speak, rather than just submitting because they wanted a free trip.”
Elliott is hoping to attract around 250 web professionals to the conference. He’s keen to keep it in Newcastle in future, and is excited about the potential of the region’s digital sector.
“It needs more successes, but it’s coming on in leaps and bounds,” he said. “The tech scene in Newcastle still doesn’t get that much press down south, but if we’d started what we’re doing now about eight years ago it would be a completely different story.
“The tech scene in general is probably one of the most thriving industries in the world. I used to be in the Royal Engineers, but I turned to the web industry and never looked back.
“There’s so much going on. Look at the devices coming out all the time. Microsoft just brought out a new tablet, and that’s something else for us all to play with. There’s something new every day. I love this industry.”
To find out more or book tickets, go to www.industryconf.com