beyond tellerrand Berlin 2016 – Mike Monteiro on stage

Beyond Tellerrand Berlin 2016

Once again, beyond tellerrand, a great conference about design, development, and all things web, took place in the cold November air of Berlin. After walking over from Bahnhof Friedrichstraße to the Admiralspalast, an historical theater opened in 1910, where the spirit of the Golden Twenties is still present, the exited visitor is welcomed by a warm atmosphere and elated speakers covering a great variety of interesting and inspiring topics. Out of those, I chose to report on three outstanding talks that had in common the overarching theme of responsibility, which is so important to our work in these turbulent times. I’ll start with the speaker who, with his most impactful and thought-provoking talk, left many of us stunned.

Btconf Berlin 2016 Mikemonteiro 2
Btconf Berlin 2016 Mikemonteiro Staywoke

Mike Monteiro – Let Us Now Praise Ordinary People

Mike Monteiro is a designer. Together with Erika Hall he founded Mule Design, an interactive design studio based in San Francisco. He shared his experiences with the community in two books, Design Is a Job and You're My Favorite Client and never gets tired of calling for designers to take responsibility for the work they put into the world – most famously in his .net Talk of the Year 2014 How Designers Destroyed the World.

Migration is a fucking human right, by the way.

Mike Monteiro at beyond tellerrand Berlin

Whether or not you like his upfront style, Mike surely is a force of nature. His talk left the audience greatly impressed and some even deeply moved. In times where young white boys design services that obviously fail to address the needs of women and minorities for the sake of venture capital, where guns that are built so simple that a child can use them are sold on Facebook, where huge masses of refugees are winding their way through Europe, and a bigot and racist is elected U.S. president, Mike acts as a voice of conscience. If we really want to change the way the world is designed, we need to change who gets to design it. Just being empathic with the people we design for isn’t enough, because this doesn't solve the real world problem of exclusion. Instead what we need is real inclusion. But what is real inclusion then? Mike puts it bluntly: “Don’t assume how a woman would behave in a situation. Hire a woman to design it.”

Ultimately, designers need to take on the responsibility that comes with having the power to create things. A responsibility that also arises not from being special, but from being just as ordinary as anyone else on this planet. We just don't get to opt out. I cannot recommend this talk enough: It is a clarion call to action for our community that can provide an answer to the question of how to cope with a reality that seems to be out of joint.

Watch Mike's talk on Vimeo.

Btconf Berlin 2016 Kadlec

Tim Kadlec – Unseen

In his elaborate and entertaining talk, Tim reminded us that the web is meant to be for everyone, so we need to find ways to guarantee equal access and great experiences not only for users with huge data plans and fast devices. It is inherent in the web that it is less-than-ideal and often unpredictable, which is why we need to first get rid of our assumptions if we want to build resilient systems and instead focus on the fundamental pillars of a good web experience: Performance, accessibility, and security. The problem is that they are mostly hidden from sight for the average user and only become visible, when a system fails. So it is important to make those unseen features visible as early as possible for everybody involved in a project and by that making it the responsibility of everyone.

Tim Kadlec is a web performance advocate and head of developer relations at Snyk. He has written a book about Implementing Responsive Design and embracing the inherent flexibility of the web. Tim regularly publishes articles on his site that are really worth reading, for example the one in which he invites us to Blame the Implementation, Not the Technique or when he writes about Setting a Performance Budget or Chasing Tools.

Watch Tim's talk on Vimeo.

Btconf Berlin 2016 Heydon Pickering

Heydon Pickering – Writing Less Damn(ed) Code

Ever since Heydon invented the “lobotomized owl selector” ( * + * ) and wrote about it on A List Apart, he has been known as someone who thinks outside the box. Moreover, he is a renowned advocate for accessible and inclusive design, working with The Paciello Group and Smashing Magazine. Just recently he published his wonderful book Inclusive Design Patterns, which I highly recommend.

Heydon took us on a wildly entertaining adventure that was a mixture of thought experiments on code (and responsibly writing less of it) and also quite useful advice. For example, he shared a well-rounded exit strategy if someone mentions the word “carousel” in a meeting. Besides the monumental breakthrough discovery that less is actually less and not more, as the inspirational designers are trying to make us believe, Heydon even introduced many revolutionary concepts like, for example, “unprogressive non-enhancement” or his own super-awesome progressively enhanced 93 bytes (minified) fits-in-a-tweet grid framework: FUKOL. Thanks for a glorious performance, Heydon!

You can watch Heydon's talk here.

… and many more

As I said before, the overall quality of the talks was excellent. Videos for all talks from beyond tellerrand Berlin are already on Vimeo and YouTube, so please make sure you also have a look at some more and see for yourself what your favorites are. It’s really worth it. Also have a look at Marc Thiele's coverage post, in which he lists all blog posts, photos, videos, and much more interesting facts about the conference. We drank a total of 256 liters of coffee, for example…

Btconf Berlin 2016 Gallery Sacha Judd
Btconf Berlin 2016 – Harry Roberts
Btconf Berlin 2016 Una Kravets
Btconf Berlin 2016 Frank Rausch
Btconf Berlin 2016 Marc Thiele and friends
Btconf Berlin 2016 Erika Hall
Btconf Berlin 2016 Charlotte Jackson
Btconf Berlin 2016 View of the ceiling
Btconf Berlin 2016 Jeff Greenspan


29 Webmentions

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beyond tellerrand
Very nice blog post by @m_ott about #btconf Berlin. Thanks!…
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Tim Kadlec
Thanks for taking the time to write this up sir! :)
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design hoch drei
#d3 freelancer Matthias war auf der #btconf. Ein Auswahl seiner Impressionen findet ihr auf seiner Website. Prädikat empfehlenswert. #design…
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Great post @m_ott — Beyond Tellerrand Berlin 2016 //…