In exactly three weeks time, we’ll have the biggest week of the web in Western Australia – Thursday Nov 6th sees the inaugural jam-packed Edge of the Web Conference during the day, and in the evening, WebJam9, the high-speed geek equivalent of Australian Idol. Then, on Friday, we see four great speakers run half day workshops, prior to that evening, being the black-tie gala event, the WA Web Awards, now in it’s fourth year!

One of the folks speaking both at the conference, and then running a workshop on Friday, is Cameron Adams, AKA The Man in Blue. I took the liberty of asking Cameron some questions prior to the big event…

At EOTW, your talk is titled ‘Designing with Creative Code’. This would suggest you believe coding is a creative outlet in a way – care to elaborate further on this?

People talk about turning points all the time, particularly on the Web.

I think it’s a given that we’re past the point now where print designers think they’re web designers. But I don’t think we’re past the point yet where designers are coders. And I think we should be. The further we get into the digital age, the more important it is to be able to manipulate those digital bits, whether they’re data, layouts, or ways of interaction.

In my talk I’m going to try and show just how creative coding — of all sorts — can be; and how to draw on that creativity in your projects.
Commercial and otherwise.

I’m really quite excited because it’s probably the most conceptual talk that I’ve given to date (that means I won’t be waving at code on-screen). Hopefully it will get people excited and thinking about new stuff they can try; avenues they should be experimenting with.

With designs becoming more reliant on AJAX and similar techniques, do you see an eventual merge between designer and developer roles?

Well, I think the subject of my talk might tip off my hand here 😀 Playing devil’s advocate with myself, the project I’m currently on sees me only playing the role of a designer — no CSS to code, or JavaScript to crunch. And I think it’s been a great release for me. Without having to worry about the details of implementation, I’m free to make the design do whatever I want. Whatever it *has* to do to be the best experience for the user.

Without having to think about how hard it is to actually implement something, I’m not second-guessing myself; I’m not “dumbing down” the interface. So from that perspective, the separation of designer and developer is ideal. But, my background in code has helpd — I can prototype ideas, see how they work and tweak them before handing them off to an engineer to properly develop. I can definitely see that as the trend going forward, but who knows exactly where we’ll end up in 5 years?

You do a fair bit of speaking – what’s the best part of presenting at conferences?

The best part of presenting at conferences is seeing that lightbulb moment going off in someone’s head. You can’t always give a talk that is going to blow the mind of *every* person in the room, but as long as one person leaves the talk energised, brimming with new knowledge and excited to try it out, then it’s all worth it. Of course, my goal is to *always* blow every person’s mind, but I like to hedge my bets.

Between writing books, blogging, speaking at conferences such as EOTW, and organising co-working events, how do you get time to actually do any paid client work? What’s your time management secret?

It’s all just smoke and mirrors. Or spinning plates, really. You only have to focus on one long enough to make it seem like you do it a lot, then you move onto the next one. I mean, come on, when was the last time you saw me update my blog? 😛

But seriously, a few late nights never killed anyone. If you’re doing something you like, you shouldn’t notice you’re missing sleep. I’m missing it slightly more than I used to, though.

Thanks for your time, Cameron and I look forward to seeing you at Edge of the Web!

If you’re interested in learning more about designing with creative code, or Cameron’s workshop, Frontiers of Javascript, I encourage you to check out the Edge of the Web website for all the details – but hurry! We’ve got three weeks until the big day!

Image: Cameron Adams, presenting at WA Web Awards 2006.

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