Bringing Some #bdconf Back To #dayton

Ben reflects on takeaways from Orlando's 2012 Breaking Development conference.

I’m just back from Orlando where I spent three days in the company of some very smart people. People who think about the web in the same way that we do at Sparkbox. Following are my thoughts on the week.

In my opinion, Karen McGrane stole the show. Don’t get me wrong – Jason killed it talking about the smart TV, and Ethan was as eloquent as I’ve ever seen him. Josh is always engaging, and Stephanie blows my mind anytime she speaks. Somehow, though, Karen managed to stand out in this amazing line-up of presenters.

We love to think responsively. That doesn’t mean we always follow the definition of #rwd in the purest sense of the term, but we embrace the intent of responsive web design. We strive to create excellent content experiences no matter the device on which they are viewed. What Karen so beautifully described carried this concept beyond design and development into content strategy and content management system integration. While this certainly wasn’t completely new to me, Karen was able to present the topic in a way that made it feel more tangible – more within reach – than I’ve heard it before. The basic premise is that we must consider a more modular approach to content which will allow it to span channels, devices, and contexts. Thinking of our content management systems as APIs opens up a wealth of possibility for the portability of content. After all, content is where real value lies. 

You can read her writing on the same topic in this article. It's a must read.

Beyond this, I had the opportunity to talk shop with some of the individuals I look up to most in our industry. I had a chance to witness the real community that we’re a part of. It’s a community that truly cares about users, and it is idealistic almost to a fault (which I love). It’s a community that carefully considers new ideas and relentlessly challenges old ones. @bdconf is not your average conference. Somehow, the organizers are able to bring the brightest minds on mobile web together to foster incredible conversation. It was inspiring; but more importantly, it was encouraging.

There, in Orlando, I sat around a fire among smart, smart people until the early hours of the morning, and we discussed a whole new breed of challenges. There is no denying, we are entering uncharted territory, but it is good to know that we're not alone. I’m even more grateful for the hours with my peers over dinner and drinks each evening than for the amazing presentations. 

Thanks to the Breaking Development team for another fantastic conference. You guys rock.