So last night I popped over to AKQA Anoraks – which in its current form is a meeting with 2-3 talks that are probably only interesting to developers and (digital type) project managers, hence its niche title. This one in particular had talks from Den Odell (Responsive design – past, present and future), Jon Barber (Real time leaderboards using Redis) and Matt Archer (Scaling automatic regression tests for data intensive websites). I was particularly fascinated by the Redis talk, mainly because when you put it next to MySQL it looks pretty unreal.
I loved it. Not just because there was beer and pizza, but because the people giving the talks give a damn about what they do and there’s an underlying enthusiasm that feels great.
What really transpired (for me) is the amount of work and thinking that goes into a project, sometimes under pretty tight deadlines. That and the fact that AKQA has aimed and achieved to hire some really good people who fly the flag for the agency. If you ask me what the main takeaway is, it’s that it’s organic learning: mingle with the people who do stuff, find out how they go about doing stuff, take it away and ruminate or bring your approach to the table and give a talk.
This isn’t what I do for a living, but it’s something I’ve been involved with and have an active interest in. Sorry to all the people who were slightly disappointed I’m not a developer and sorry to the planners who expect me to talk about real life scenarios. My only explanation for why this on a planning blog is that I see the backbone and inner workings of things to be as important as the surface veneer we dabble in as planners. How you use something (or don’t, depending on the case) can and will change how you feel about things – and if you can’t inform people (read clients) on why that’s important and what they can do about it even at a micro nitty-gritty level, then frankly you’re being entirely helpful.
On the downside yet likely to improve in the future, it felt a bit disjointed because it lasted much longer than I thought; I left 9.40ish when the last questions were being asked instead of the 9 pm scheduled but I don’t want to knock that just because of my own mad rush for a train home.