An Ode to An Event Apart

I’m not a big globe-trotting conference attendee. I’ve only been to a handful in my career.

The event I remember most fondly is An Event Apart: Austin in 2013. In my memory (which, granted, might be fuzzy) that conference was more about ideas than any specific technology. What I don’t remember is a schedule full of talks centered around frameworks, tools, or DX products.

For example, I remember Chris Coyier talking about Sass. But I don’t remember (nor do my handwritten notes indicate) the talk as a pitch for Sass. Instead, the talk felt like instruction around the generalized idea and practice of using preprocessors. What I remember about that talk is how Chris helped me understand what code preprocessing is, why you might want it, and Sass was an example in the context of CSS. I think that talk has served me well through the years with the rise and fall of many code processing/transformation tools (for CSS, JS, and more).

Ethan gave a talk titled “The Map & The Territory” that was more conceptual than technological. It struck a chord with me, so much that I blogged about it (back when I wasn’t blogging much):

the beauty of a website is found in embracing its inherent nature: in being accessible, useful, and empowering—the very attributes, essence, and fundamental mission of the web.

Jeremy gave a talk called “The Long Web”, again more about ideas than any specific tech (as he is want to do — his talks are great). It even ended with him playing a musical number.

Karen gave a talk I think about every time I hear the phrase “content is king”.

All of these talks timeless, at least as I remember them. The conference was 10 years ago, but I feel like the same talks could be given today and they’d be just as relevant.

What I remember about AEA were talks descriptive of principles for building on the web, instead of talks prescriptive of tools for building on the web (which is what I’ve got at a lot of conference since). I really enjoyed that. It was inspirational.