The men I met at Web Directions North

I just got home from Web Directions North, a conference for web professionals. This year it was in Denver. The conference was founded in Australia in 2004, by Maxine Sherrin and John Allsopp the creators of Style Master software. The goal of Web Directions is to bring together, educate, and inspire the web industry’s leading experts from around the world.

I didn’t attend the actual conference, but went to a pre-conference workshop day titled Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals that featured a group of industry and academic people who are working to close the gap between what industry needs from web professionals and what education is producing in web programs. I also went to a Web Professional Education Summit the evening before the workshop.

Each session I attended, I attemped to live blog, beginning with this post, Web Professional Education Summit.

There were fewer people at the session I attended than the number attending on the main conference days. I asked a few of the people I ran into to submit to a brief interview so I could give you a peek, a bit of flavor, regarding the people in attendance. I didn’t actually go there to meet men (really!) but these are some of the men I met. (For a report on the women I met, see this post at BlogHer.)

JohnJohn Allsopp, the conference organizer. He has a software company in Australia. He said he and business partner Maxine Sherrin started doing confernces to help people who were involved in the web meet each other face to face. They produce conferences in Australia, Japan and the US. He talked about how he thinks web technologies can help people remember and interact with each other. John is the mastermind behind the education of web professionals focus in the preconference days that he hopes will bring the right people together to create some change.

BillBill Cullifer is here to present as part of the Web Professional Education Summit. He’s the Executive Director of WOW. WOW works to promote community, support education, and provide certification. He said web professional education is needed, but limited. It’s a new profession and moving target. Teachers are not up to speed, but it isn’t fair them blame them for situations that aren’t their fault. He works a lot with teachers in the community college system (actually, all kinds of teachers) and in helping them get the information and training they need.

NickNick Fogler is from Yahoo! Presenting at Web Professionsal Education Summit and in the educating web professionals session. He’s working with training in best practices and the development of training materials at Yahoo!. He’s one of the people at Yahoo developing Juku, which provides training in frontend technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP) with the ultimate goal of producing great frontend engineers. I’m putting words in his mouth here, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s interested in eliminating his current job in the sense that as an industry professional, he would like to see front end developers come to Yahoo already prepared rather than Yahoo having to develop programs to train them after they are hired.

JeffJeffrey Brown is from Damascus High School in Damascus, Maryland. He’s here to meet the WaSP crew that he worked with on the WaSP Interact project and to speak in the open panel talking about experiences. He’s representing the high school education viewpoint in that panel. He plans to attend all the sessions and hopes to meet everyone. He said his interest in best practices is starting to rub off on all the people around him: he recently heard his wife, a Spanish teacher, telling someone the value of web standards.

JaredJared Smith from WebAIM came primarily for the networking and the contacts. He also came to learn. As head of WebAIM, he attends many conferences in a year as a speaker or presenter. He gets to choose a conference to attend now and then just because it’s a great place to learn. For him, this is one of these conferences he is attending simply out of interest in what he can get out of it.

AarronAarron Walter came to present at the Ed Directions sessions at John Allsopp’s request. Aarron is an educator and heads up the WaSP Interact curriculum project. He came to have an open discussion with educators about the disconnect between education and industry and make sure we get the right learning materials to educators. He’s also hoping to create evangelists for educating with best practices.

I didn’t head for the airport until about 11 AM the morning that the main conference sessions started, so I got to talk to a couple of people who were there for the main event. (I felt a little guilty getting on an easy one hour flight back to Albuquerque when there were people in attendance who had come from Japan, Korea, Norway, the UK, Australia, Canada and lots of other places.) Here are two of the non-education crowd I managed to talk with.

StanleyStanley Grabowski is from Manufacturing Works. He does all the website front end development for this Wyoming comapny. He came to Web Directions North to help himself keep up, to  network and to be around other people who do this type of work. He attended a mix of the design and development sessions during the main conference days.

BrianBrian Rehbein is from Hide Sato, a software products company. In his day job, he’s a programmer working for Cobank. Cobank company gave him money for training so he picked WDN09 because there is good usability information information to learn. He wants to know about user testing and usability. He attended the Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionalst workshop because he’s the one guy in his organization for web standards, usability and best practices. However, he was mainly attending for the regular conference sessions in both the design and development track.

Related posts: Web Professional Education Summit, Education the Next Generation of Web Professionals, Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals II, Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals III, Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals IV, and Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals V.

Leave a Reply