How do you sum up an event like Brooklyn Beta? And why should I do that in the first place? Do we really need more inside industry backrubs? Probably not, but I'm writing this down for me to remember. To make sure I don't forget how honest and genuine this conference felt. It was my second time attending and, once again, it was a blast but also a humbling, inspiring experience.
But was it Baratunde Thurston one-upping Studiomates’ Beer Friday with Whiskey Friday? The dance class? Cory Booker? Maciej Ceglowski’s bedbugs? Or Aaron Draplin kicking off the fuckin’ show in big, bold Futura-style? Or maybe it was the homemade pop-tarts and cookies that got passed around in the afternoon? Or the fact that there’s purposely no wi-fi provided and no speaker list published, both of which lead to a more focused audience and better attendance? Sure. It is all of that. But at the most basic level, it’s just great to put real faces to avatars and chat with the people whose work I’ve read and admired.
There are probably a lot of other conferences where these same people gather but I think Chris and Cameron (and team!) have created something really special. It feels more like being at a friend’s loft party than at a web conference. The love and labor that goes into this event from the room decoration to the name badges, from the beer elevator to the sponsor flags - everything whispers “we made this just for you”. And it’s all housed in a former factory turned arts space that used to churn out novelty “invisible dog” leashes in the 70s. It’s perfect.
Anyway, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest CSS animation syntax or spending hours on a pesky viewport breakpoint but at the end of the day, we’re all building things. The folks behind Brooklyn Beta remind us to try and build stuff that matters, but to also have fun doing it. Make something you love? Sure. Sounds great! But it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. No inspirational one-liner ever is. But I, for one, am inspired to take a second, slow the fuck down and make sure I’m still fighting the good fight.
Sitting in a room with an insanely impressive list of designers, makers, thinkers and Cory Booker can make you feel like you’re trespassing in a place you don’t belong. But the magic of Chris and Cameron’s creation is that, more than anything else, I felt welcome right from the start.