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DIBI 2: A Review

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

As I’ve previously blogged about, I decided to forego the usual trip to London for my yearly conference fix and instead tried to find smaller, more local conferences that would also be better value for money. DIBI was such a conference that took place over the last couple of days, and as is customary I have to follow up with a review of my experience.

So in a rather linear fashion I’ll work through the conference and stick in some extra thoughts at the end…

Fog on the Tyne

As conference cities go Newcastle is counted as local even with the 2 hour train journey to get there. My experience of the city has never been exhaustive and this won’t be changing after the last couple of days but I must admit the location of the conference was excellent.

With all the venues within a stone’s throw of each other and the Tyne (with the Millennium Bridge) in-between it certainly was a picturesque location in which to hold a conference and given the conference is held within The Sage I was surprised that the conference is not priced more highly (though of course I’m very happy with the pricing).

An afternoon

I think this add on to the conference was something new from last year and it is an intriguing addition given it all centred on a single subject; that being start ups. I expected not being involved in a start up would mean this really wouldn’t be my thing but I’d paid for the ticket (or at least work had) and I was going to attend everything I could. Of course I wasn’t far off the mark but some of the speakers were very engaging and great to listen to, even if the subject matter was something that would be of limited use to me.

I’m intrigued as to how this part of the conference may develop, I’d assume it’s intended to have a lower turn out than the main conference so would need to avoid more universally sought after subjects like design or markup and it’s what next year’s subject may be that will be interesting.

The Night before

With a train home taking the place of the after party for me this was the time to network. Anyone who knows me will know networking isn’t my thing, yet I seem to be learning that although I hate making that initial contact with people I can maybe put myself in a situation that has someone starting to talk to me. The result was I spent most of the night and the next day chatting to @tommy_b and @bashaus which was a great laugh, even if it did include a tough quiz on the Australian accent.

Of course the success of a conference party can depend on the quantity and quality of any free drink and food. I ate before arriving so didn’t try the food but it looked good and was more than a simple buffet. The free drink ran out before my fashionably late arrival but then later there was more free drink but lasted only long enough for one drink. But what was good about this solitary drink was that I could have something I liked rather than restricted to the usual beer or wine.

With an eye on being in a decent state the next day I exited at 11.

The Speakers

Some speakers I knew of and some I did not, this for me is the perfect mix and what was even better was that only one of the speakers was someone I had seen speak before. To be honest however pretty much all the speakers were going to be overshadowed by the trifecta of Jeremy Keith, Jared Spool and Jeffery Zeldman. As headliners go this was certainly a great achievement for a conference in only its second year.

All the speakers were great, Zeldman was as entertaining as I had hoped but I think Jared Spool won the day with what was not only an interesting talk but also a way of presenting that brought with it a lot of humour and wit that made for a very engaging 40 minutes.

The Conference

Of course the conference day isn’t just about the sessions, there’s the other stuff like the refreshments, food and pick and mix that all added to the experience. Given the location it would be difficult to expect everyone to find their way to somewhere to eat so the food was certainly a requirement but with 4 choices of hot food it was well considered even if the recipe for Lasagne involved way too much white sauce. Also feeding garlic bread to so many could have backfired.

Too many conferences have started to play big brother and start forcing extra networking opportunities into a conference, luckily DIBI has not gone to these lengths and left networking to occur naturally between the sessions rather than replacing them. Sure networking is a big part of what a conference is about but I’m not spending £150+ to be solely spending time chatting to people.

Two Tracks

As I see it DIBI has gotten the two track idea sorted. The main problem with other conferences is that it’s two tracks about the same thing meaning you have to make the decision frequently about which session to attend. Sure videos are usually available afterwards but how many people find the time to sit through so many extra hours of conference material at home.

What DIBI has done is create two tracks that as so distinct that even someone like me who does both design and development found only one instance where I could have happily attend a session on both tracks. For me this is most certainly the way to do a two track conference.


After DIBI I’ve finally managed to adjust my view of what I’m learning by attending conferences. When attending my first conference I was so overwhelmed with new information and was new to my job that I couldn’t help but learn lots. Now I’m gaining knowledge from so many other avenues and have a certain amount of knowledge already that what new stuff I take home from a conference isn’t that much.

But that’s ok. There are always some new things to learn here and there but that’s not such a big part of the experience anymore. Sometimes just knowing that others are doing the same things I’m doing is a great thing. But most of all it’s the inspiration I get from attending the conference that I find most rewarding. It’s this that gives me the drive to improve both my work and how I deal with the whole process of design, development and clients.

So in conclusion

I’m happy I made the decision to go to DIBI, I’ve come away having learnt some stuff, having been inspired to try some new things and met some excellent people. In fact I’m struggling to come up with even one negative point, sure some elements weren’t to my taste but nothing was specifically wrong at all.

I suppose the big question is would I go again next year; and the simple answer is yes.