beyond tellerrand 2019 — a review

Motto der Konferenz auf der Leinwand: Stay curious

Ready – steady – go

btconf2019 in Düsseldorf was the most inspirational event in my personal career. Many talks of the each conference are available on Vimeo and one could hope to get all the information without actually being at the conference.

It’s true – and it is not.

Graffiti: Bob Marley und der Text „Love“After being there only once I think, what makes this conference special is the fact, that there are long breaks between the talks – normally half an hour and up to three hours lunch break. Besides the speaker don’t just come for their talk and disappear as soon as possible afterwards, but most of them stayed for the whole time and even joined the side events. So they were available for networking, chatting, questions and more – as well as all the people in the audience. I think this is the main reason, why many among the 500 people felt like family. Also I did, although it was my first btconf. On the one hand I met a lot of people (again), that I know from real life or the web (Roland Golla, Wolfgang Wiese, Joshi Kuphal, Sven Wolfermann and many more). On the other hand it was easy to get new contacts. The atmosphere and the concept of the beyond tell errand make it impossible to stay alone for more than five minutes.

This is even more true for the side events. Of course it was something special to have my own talk at the Accessibility Club. Especially with people in the audience, that sound like a who-is-who of accessible frontend development:

  • Jeremy Keith
  • Heydon Pickering (speaker at bt)
  • Zach Leatherman (speaker at bt)
  • Charlie Owen (speaker at bt)
  • Joschi Kuphal
  • Jörg Morsbach
  • Carolyn Stransky (speaker at bt)
  • Tantek Celik (speaker at bt)
  • Jens Grochtdreis
  • Rodney Rehm

Also my SELFHTML-buddy Gunnar Bittersmann was there of course. Before I started, I thought for a moment, why I’m doing this at all. 😉

The contact between all of us (speaker and audience from the btconf) became even closer during the meetup sessions. To be honest, the accessibility club is worth an blog entry for itself.

Let’s stick to the point: beyond tellerrand 2019 – stay curious!

Find a complete list of all contributions of btconf 2019 right now, riggt here (without breakfast‐ und lunch‐sessions).

There is a link after each summary to the speaker with more infos and links to their work, websites and to most of the live recorded talks in full length.

All constraints are beautiful

Rollstuhlfahrer vor einer Treppe. Über dem Bild steht „well, fuck you!“Charlie Owen made a great opening talk, showing how and why constraints make our work better and even more beautiful — if we stop ignoring the given constraints. To be honest, when I read the schedule for the first time, I was a little disappointed, that I did not find the name of Mike Monteiro on it. But Charlie Owen rocked it! She did not only present similar content and opinions (Fuck Facebook), but it makes sense that she gave these topics a female voice. I think, that is something Mike Monteiro appreciates, too. Especially everybody who is active in the creative industry should be aware, that there are not only men in the world, interacting with our products and making them! We should not make products exclusively for old white heterosexual men with fast fingers and excellent eyes. We can do better! 😉

More about Charlie Owen and her talk (with video)

Humanising your Documentation

Carolyn Stransky proved in her talk, that it’s possible to summarize in just 45 minutes, whats important, if you want to explain something to people. If you make tutorials, manuals any kind of documentation 8even if its only occasionally), you should definitely listen to her. If you don’t, you might end up with a piece of work, that it not only not worth the time you invested, but makes your reader frustrated instead of being enlightened by the power of understanding.

More about Carolyn Stransky and her talk (with video)

The power of metaphor

Mike Hill let us take a peek into the psychology behind Hollywood Blockbusters in particular and creative work in general using examples like Star Wars, Batman and Jurassic Park. His conclusion is astonishing simply and true, but like many other simple things, its necessary to get reminded of it time after time: if you tell shitty stories you will live in shit. Hitler is just one historical person who was influenced by a shitty story. Of course this is also true for development and design in the web industry.

More about Mike Hill and his talk (with video)

Aufwändige Projekte starten mit Enthusiasmus, gehen durch schwere Zeiten und endengut, wenn man dran bleibtMaking art with familiar objects

Red Hong Yi uses everyday things for making art, normally portraits. Socks, chop sticks or coffee are her materials and she never choses them by accident. The person in the picture always has a relation to the objects Red Hong Yi is using. She asks us to take a closer look at the ways streets, we are walking, the houses, we are passing by every day, look at forms, colours and things waiting to be seen — also in the digital part of the world…

More about Red Hong Yi and her talk (with video)

Never Snap to Guides

Nu design rules in a shifting environment.

David Carson showed us exactly 2836 graphics, logos, types — maybe a little more (not to mention torn off toe nails and surfing videos). his message: keep paddling und have fun.

His presentation was mainly a (very fast) show of many, many of his designs. It’s a pity, that his talk is not available online.

More about David Carson and his talk

Hard work, relentless dreams and WiFi

Rob Draper spoke in a very personal way about his own life – both private and professional. Actually a summary about his talk should be really long to give an expression of all the ups and downs he went through and his message as well. But his whole presentation was a mixture of him speaking and showing his artwork and how he as a person and as an artists grew. He used a lot of filmed material that made his work come alive, how it evolved using strict color constraints (black, white and gold) until his lately animations for the golden globe. It’s a pity, that the video of his talk is not available.
Of course there are a lot of videos on youtube, but they don’t tell this story.

More about Rob Draper

Kepler-186f - where the grass is always redder on the other sideImagination, desire, and the call of the future

is the title of David Delgados presentation of the work he is doing as a designer for NASA. A big challenge is the fact, that he has to make accessible, what our senses are not able to recognize – because things are to far, to small or to subtle for us to feel, see or hear them. He gives satellites a voice, makes data luminous and lets cosmic particles sparkle. He masters the technical and artistic challenge in these tasks and the results are absolutely astonishing. Als absoluter Verkaufsschlager hat sich rein zufällig eine als Flurdekoration entwickelte Serie mit fiktiven Reiseplakaten mit Fernzielen in unserem Sonnensystem erwiesen. Als Public Domain‐Werke wurden die Illustrationen auf allerhand Alltags‐Gegenstände gedruckt und können als echte Produkte erworben werden. The stars are calling and we must go.

More about David Delgado and his talk (with video)

I don’t care what Airbnb is doing

says Stephen Hay but it’s not entirely true. Because he took a closer look at their work and understood and understands, that Airbnb made something new that works. But this should not make us use the tools of Airbnb which solved problems that are not ours.

So we should discussing solutions before even talking about the problems. It’s ok to use components and tools available in the web, but without putting them together and configuring them until they become something new, that solves our particular problems, they are not solving our problems. in the best possible way. We do not even know anything about the problems they are made for.

“The problem I have with blindly following conventions is: we don’t learn and learning is how we grow.”

More about Stephen Hay and his talk (with video)

Data, Design, Code

How can we design data? Shirley Wu knows and shows it to us. Coding live. On stage. In front of 500 people. Impressive! She uses a combination of three JavaScript‐Frameworks to get things done as efficiently as possible. For me most fascinating is the concept of the visualization to make data not only perceivable, but also present it beautifully. It takes a lot of small and big ideas, iterations and the concern to find the best presentation for a particular set of data – and not just to reuse already known patterns. The best solution for every individual problem.

More about Shirley Wu and her talk (Video will be available in June)

The Scoville Scale of Web Font Loading Opinions

Zach Leatherman uses the „The Scoville Scale of Web Font Loading Opinions“ to show the pain of font implementation in websites.
Unnecessary to say, that icon fonts made it way up on this scale. But beyond this well known fact there are a lot of surprising news: starting with the features of modern browsers (you must try the font‐tab in Firefox developer tools!), hosting and licensing fonts (what is related to each other) or a new look at font stacks. And of course he gives solutions. I know for many developer, there are only fonts with or without serifs – and monotypes of course. But „type is how we dress our content“ and it’s essential for a positive impression on the visitor — if implemented correctly. So watch, learn and do it! It’s not that difficult!

More about Zack Leatherman and his talk (mit Video)


Dorobot invented a new creative working process called napworking. To master it, it’s neccessary to keep thinking in a box. Especially a small box. The smaller, the better. A match box should be enough. A pleasant and think worthy plea for the right to be inefficient and creative. Curious? What are you waiting for? Follow the white rabbit link and watch the video.

More about Doro(bot) and her talk (with video)

Flexbox Holy Albatross

Heydon Pickering and birds – that is some strange kind of relationship. A talk with code – showing a way to make media-queries in CSS in one more case unnecessary. If you follow his instructions, you will end up with a component that works fine, no matter how much content ist is carrying or how big the parent it is or how much sibblings have to share the available space. And so Heydon Pickerings strange, funny, enjoyable journey in shorts (on which he finds his father by the way — or maybe not?!?) ends up with a beautiful smart and useful piece of code. Sadly there is no video of this great talk, but you can find an article in his blog (also read the explanations in the first holy albatross article 😉). Of course you can just copy and paste the code from his blog, but you shooed definitely read the article to get a better understanding how CSS and the flex box module work.

More about Heydon Pickering and his talk (video will be available in June)

Take back your Web

Seriously. Do it! If you don’t know where to start, listen to Tantek Çelik, he tells you everything you have to know. And how to get likes on your own website, connect with interesting people on your own website and keep control over your content, your data and – yourself!

There is now other place in the web to get more creative, than your own digital home.

So let’s do it. Take back your Web!

More about Tantek Çelik and his talk (with video)


Thanks to Jens Grochtdreis (Flocke) for sharing the link to Heydon Pickerings blog