One addressed and attended Web Directions North 2007, a successful international conference that, as a Canada-Australia coproduction, had nothing to do with Americans. (One recalls an interview with Australia’s ambassador to Canada, who chose his posting deliberately and viewed a statement of “I represent Canada, Australia, and New Zealand” as bearing considerable moral authority.) My old friends and supporters John Allsopp and Maxine Sherrin, who treated me to what I now understand to be the voyage of my life to Sydney in 2004 (Iceland is a close second), adopted Dave Shea and Derek Featherstone as business partners and branched out the Web Essentials Directions “experience” to Canada.

I flew WestJet uneventfully, refused to fret about my closing-keynote position but was very anxious for Wednesday at 1600 hours to roll around, and re-met all my old friends. I also met a wide range of new supporters, some of whom were visibly humbled to meet me. I have no capacity to react to that degree of respect.

We dug around on the stage at the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel (decorated in the “klassy” Dynasty model of brass, glossy stone, and carpets everywhere) and found a perfect modernist divan, in tufted white leather, sitting unused. We decided to drag it onstage and set-dress a bit to create a Fireside Chat with Joe Clark (later renamed a wireside chat). Everything onstage matched the furniture, even me, and some people couldn’t even see me due to the angles, and, even after doing a VU check, some people couldn’t hear me, but it went off like a charm.

My topic was accessibility in the design process, and I used as an example a redesign of the TTC Web site. Yes, I know I have maintained that we’re doing too much free work for this billion-dollar corporation, but the fact is I’ve been outvoted. And, after attending Transit Camp, I can’t very well be a little bit pregnant. I will be assembling my speaking notes shortly, and the recording will eventually be podcast. I am told that I brought down the house.

Now it is time to mention a regret, and I always have some. I planned for ages a little gag in which I would say that I promised myself this conference would be the first in recent memory at which I did not utter an expletive, and, I would add as I clicked to a slide reading FUCK YEAH, “I intend to hold to that.” But I blew it, and got so upset I muttered “For fuck sakes!” into the recording. Now you know why I swear: I’m a perfectionist who often lets himself down.

Something else planned for weeks was a Boys’ Night Out. As I have explained before, it is fine to work in this industry, but it does get a bit tiring to be the only X in the village, whatever the value of X might be. (Usually “gay.”) So, after decades of working for other people’s rights and equality generally (Cf. disability, homosexualism, AIDS, women in engineering, among others), the question I asked myself was: Why the hell do I have to go to all the straight people’s parties and why can’t I throw one myself?

So I would. The plan was to announce a BOYS’ NIGHT OUT (SORTIE NOCTURNE pour les GARS), of especial interest to our diverse LGBTTQQI2S* communities. “No girls, no trannies. Sorry, kids.” We were to meet in the hotel lobby at 2200 hours. But that night was the Microsoft-sponsored dinner, MCed by the IE7 product manager for developers, Pete LePage, who had confidentially informed me that he’d probably be coming along. Naturally I saved a seat for him at the dinner, where I became BFFs with this adorable little scamp. We didn’t leave the place till 2345. So much for that.

I planned to try again the next night and even set up a special Twitter so people could track our progress. I made an announcement just before the closing of the conference (another nice touch from the organizers, who do rather indulge me). I was pretty much stalked all afternoon at breaks by a woman who told me that I might want to consider the reactions of politically-aware feminists if I make an announcement like that sometime in the future; she had to ask around to figure out what I meant. Well, exactly! It was planned from the start to be an announcement that would make sense only if you were the kind of guy who would want to come along. Bafflement means you aren’t in the target market. Too subtle? Well, isn’t that a refreshing change? I also told her I was quite willing to take the risk of offending people. (And didn’t she notice I dedicated the entire presentation to a womynz? The world does not revolve around politically-aware feminists and their sensibilities.)

I took a disco-nap and later sat, as if desultorily, among discarded peanut shells at the Pumpjack (official orthography: PumpJack). But lo and behold, my adorable-scamp friend, his two colleagues from Microsoft, and a rather curious married man from another Canadian province all toddled in. While our delightful discourse is, by agreement, unbloggable, the photos aren’t. It was reminiscent of my night out with Jonno, the Brad, Josh, and a faghag we couldn’t get rid of in Austin in ’05. (Also reminiscent was the music – in both places, super hits played in apparent alphabetical order. It left me with an earworm for “Queen of Hearts.”) We closed the place, and the adorable scamp and I left the other three to their own devices while we retired individually.

Mission accomplished. Expect more of this sort of thing at future conferences, should there be any beyond @media 2007. Also be forewarned that the concept of a Boys’ Night Out in San Francisco will be like a kid in a candy store, so mark your calendars. And – sorry again, kids – no girls, no trannies.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.02.09 18:31. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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