Beyond Tellarand Düsseldorf

In the beginning of this week, I have attended the Beyond Tellerand in Düsseldorf.

I found about the conference from one of the IndieWeb side event to the conference. From the webpage, I could not figure out, what kind of group of people were supposed to attend it. But based on the talk, it looked interesting and the most important point, it was an offline conference. Something that I did not attend in the two years previously. Also something that I was missing, since online events do not really serve as a substitute.

So I have to admit, that I went there without much expectation. It would not need to deliver much, for me to consider this worth it. It ended up being a great one.

In the conference, there are usually three main parts: the speeches, the hallway talks and the after conference socializing. So I will talk a bit about my experience with each of them.

The talks were great. The videos were going to be posted on the link above, so you could check for yourself.

The conference started with the talk about the head in the HTML, which was interesting. Also, the most immediately applicable - even if not on any site, that I could control that. This and IndieWeb made me start checking the head HTML more, and... Do I really need to know, what all these JavaScripts and millions CSS files are doing to the site?

There were two talks about the fonts. Which made somebody like me, who is hopeless in design, think about creating different fonts. Well, I know that I am not going to to this, but it is always fun to know, what it actually possible. And that I do not end up like one of the people, thinking how easy it is and it should be free. Definitely a nice introduction to somebody, that did not know anything about it before.

The talk about OAuth was great. Both in content, executing and my selfish desires. I just wish it would not make me think of my job that much. During the first part of the talk, when problems with using username and password for integrations was explained, I was like: "I know this", "Surprisingly a lot of people will still do this", and "I really do not want to think about the long term prospects of my job right now." Otherwise, it was a great talk, that I want to have a lot of people listen to, since it will make my job easier.

There was a theme of technology accessibility in a couple of talks. The main part, for me, was the person, talking about their experience using technology as a blind-deaf person. The main point I took from her speech was to not stereotype. Everything is on the spectrum and sometimes different people can use the technology on the same way - like blind and old people. It is from knowing more examples like these, that we start thinking about it. I do not personally know any blind people, so I am sure I am still thinking quite stereotypically, even if this talk helped.

The second one was a lunch session, where the person just tried to drill into our minds, that we should not be outsourcing accessibility. A productive rant, in a way. There was also a talk about HTML semantics, that tied to this.

Next was a talk about attentive design. What I took from that talk was, that it is important what we measure and it is possible to draw the phenomenological experience. The drawing was also a topic of two other talks. One was about the data visualization and about drawing as a way of thinking. The later was interesting, but since I sometimes use drawing in thinking, nothing earth-shattering.

The last English talk, that I remember is about the comedy in pandemic. It was a very funny talk. I just wish we would not answer the ask about the shoes with the joke. I limit my internet use, so I did not have a bad experience online as a woman yet. But it would be interesting to see a male perspective on this.

There was another talk in German, and with my limited German it seemed like it was anecdote after anecdote, which had nothing to do with the slides, so my mind drifted off multiple times during it.

I was out of practice, so the hall talks were a bit difficult on the beginning. I am really out of practice, I felt like during my pandemic my social skills regressed to a level over 10 years ago. Also, with most people speaking German, it was harder to just join a group and listen in. But the pub quiz really helped with this - and I am really thankful to that guy, that 'dragged' me there. Well, he just asked me. Then I saw another guy loitering, and he asked him to join, and then another one joined, and we lost spectacularly. Our group had no knowledge of either games or comics and very little knowledge of movies. But after this, socialization got a lot easier.

I tried to ask people about, who the conference is about, since I could not figure it out. And apparently that is a feature? At least that is the general answer, that I got from a couple of people that I asked this. Well, most of them were in the technology and design field, and the talks seems to go into that direction, so I is somewhere in that direction. The atmosphere was too relax and open for there to not be some thread connecting them.

I just hope no everybody is as dissatisfied with the position as the people I talked to were. I wish I could channel some of the energy I get from Ljubljana Freelance meetup to help with with this, but did not manage to this time.

Now, I wish there would not be music before every talk, simply because it made me to tired and had to spend a couple of breaks getting my energy back. But since this was like the only bad point of hallway talks, there is not much to complain. Also, some people seemed to really like it? It seems to be a way the conference is run, and even with this, the hallway talks went great.

If there was any socialization beyond what happened in the venue, I did not know about. But that would be my fault. I generally do not use wifi on my computer, so I did not completely install it. So since I do not own a smartphone, no internet access during my stay. So I could have missed something there - based on some comments, some people went to sleep at the normal conference hours, way in the AM territory, so there was something. Or maybe I just missed them, because my German is... Very, very bad.

I am still not entirely sure, I belong there. But the people I talked to and the conference itself was great, so I am planing to attend once more next year.

Sara Jakša
Slovenia