Cloudinary Blog

ImageCon 2019 MC Extraordinaire Vitaly Friedman on Media Conferences

Sanjay Sarathy
By Sanjay Sarathy
Vitaly Friedman's Insights on Media Conferences

Vitaly Friedman is a die-hard devotee of beautiful content. Born in Minsk, Belarus, he studied Computer Science and Mathematics in Germany, unearthing in himself a passion for typography, writing, and design in the interim. After a six-year stint as a freelance designer and developer, he co-founded Smashing Magazine, a leading online publication on web design and development. You can follow SmashingMag on Twitter @SmashingMag.

Vitaly authors and edits all Smashing books. His current focus is on growing Smashing’s new global memberships.

We’re elated to have Vitaly serve as master of ceremonies at ImageCon 2019. As an introduction, we caught him for a few minutes recently for his take on the first ImageCon in 2017 and on media conferences in general.

Note
Check back for our next speaker post and follow all things ImageCon on Twitter at #ImageCon2019.

You attended the inaugural ImageCon in 2017. What were your takeaways?

ImageCon 2017 was a revelation for me. Frankly, up until then I hardly paid any attention to media. The conference sparked my interest, specifically image formats and video codecs, so much so that I began to research the details soon afterwards. The conversations I shared with the speakers and participants about responsive images and performance opened up a new horizon for me and I soon came to understand the importance of online media and the strategies for managing them.

Your talk at ImageCon 2017 touched on the dawning and power of visual storytelling on the web. What has transpired since then and where do you see the visual web going next?

From the conversations I share with the folks in universities and companies, large and small, I’ve come to appreciate how much time people nowadays spend on social media and how vital visual media has become in just two short years. A case in point: nowadays, many designers present their brands and daily news with visual media. The web is definitely moving toward more visual presentation, which means that our job of delivering media will become a higher and higher priority. With that comes the responsibility for the digital footprint and weight and for the media’s perceived performance.

Why is media important to SmashingMag?

Why not? Our articles are accompanied by images, which must be fully responsive and optimized for devices. The same goes for videos, such as those on conference talks and, recently, on Smashing TV and video courses. In a word, we must deal with media regularly.

How do conferences forge the building and maintenance of knowledge and communities?

All too often, we underestimate the positive effects of bringing people together. Conferences are instrumental in enabling networking and the sharing of knowledge and experience. Trading “secrets” of craft helps everyone and that’s the true value of events. I always learn a lot just by listening to the stories people tell about what they’ve learned, what works for them, and what doesn’t. I can’t wait to hear the stories from my fellow ImageCon attendees this year!

You advocate "always-innovative" conferences with no slides. Will that be in play at ImageCon 2019?

Absolutely. We like to innovate and explore how to make conferences more interesting, more engaging, more practical, and more valuable to attendees. For this year’s ImageCon of 400-500 attendees, we encourage speakers to just run live sessions—live debugging, live performance and accessibility audits, live designing, live sketching. No premade slides, none. This format will apply across the board, no exceptions. Let’s see how people respond, speakers and attendees alike. Experimenting with new ideas often sparks improvements and we’re always pushing ourselves to do better.

That’s a cat in the Smashing logo? D’you hate cats or love them?

Well, I’m actually no big fan of cats. The brand’s not about me, though, but rather how it’s perceived. I love the playfulness and kindness of our cat so I’m very happy with how friendly our logo’s cat smiles every time I see it.

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