I’m Giving A New Talk At CascadiaFest And CSS Conference

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The opening slide to my latest talk, “Bauhaus In The Browser”.

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I’ve got a new talk that’s been accepted to two conferences this year!

With my public speaking side-projects, I’m partly trying to follow in the footsteps of a few of my idols, and partly I’m addressing a desire to be the one on stage. Last year, I got to speak at Devsigner in Portland, among a few other engagements. It was a great conference, and the weekend well-worth the very reasonable ticket price.

That said, one can’t help but think of the things that could have been. I submitted my last talk, “Painting The Perfect Sunset”, to a couple other conferences that turned it down. A Sass-fueled talk just wasn’t quite the right fit for CSS conferences, and the technique didn’t generate quite enough buzz to get people excited. After filming this talk at the Portland Sass Meetup (not to mention adapting it into a couple A List Apart articles), I decided it had seen enough exposure and I retired it.

Fast forward to this year: I tried a little design experiment at work, using slightly rotated text, with the goal of adding visual interest to the page. It was a tough sell and I realized I was going to have my work cut out for me defending it. I pulled out all the stops, including pleading to simply “give it a chance,” referencing architect Zaha Hadid, and comparing it to the design ideas of the Bauhaus school in Germany.

In the end, I had to agree that it was the wrong solution for the design. However, my defense left a spark behind, in the back of my head. That spark quickly began to smoke, and soon it turned into a flame. Before I knew it, I was submitting “Bauhaus In The Browser” to CascadiaFest. As it was the final day to submit my talk, I hadn’t even started on it. It was only an idea. But much to my surprise, they accepted it! I had to get to work.

I’m going to be talking about new and experimental features in CSS, and I’m filtering them through designs of the early 20th century avant-garde, of which Bauhaus was a large part. Bauhaus was an influential school that took advantage of new tools, science, psychology, and means of production to revolutionize the way art was taught, and the way products were designed and manufactured. I think there are parallels between then and now in that we have new tools and technology today (hello internet) that are also changing the way the world ticks. (I’ve noted other parallels to the Bauhaus school in the past, as well.) I also think it’s strange that we’re only just now able to replicate for the web some of the things print designers have been doing since the early 20th century!

I spent many, many hours over three months putting together demos and a presentation that, at this time, is nearly 100 slides long—I do love lots and lots of visuals. I hoped that the time spent would be worthwhile, because, while I’m very happy to be giving this talk at all, spending that much time for a 25-minute time slot is a lot of work.

Thankfully, someone else took notice, too! This week, CSSConf announced that “Bauhaus In The Browser” will be coming to Boston in late September! There may be one other engagement in the works at this time, as well, but it’s still too early to say for sure.

I’m just thrilled to be speaking at both CascadiaFest and CSSConf. I think it works out especially well because they’re on opposite coasts, which helps spread the word in a couple different areas, and for a couple different audiences. I’m looking forward to rubbing elbows with a few old friends I haven’t seen in person in years, not to mention a few of those aforementioned idols! Come check me out and say hi!

  • CascadiaFest is August 3–5 at Semiahmoo resort in Blaine, Washington.
  • CSSconf is September 26–27 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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