The brainchild of Elliot Jay Stocks and Keir Whitaker, the Insites tour is a series of evenings that focus on the informal, social side of conferences — in their words, “the beer drinking, the casual chats, and the stories that people rarely tell on stage”.
The Brighton event saw Aral Balkan, Sarah Parmenter and Jeremy Keith take the hotseat. All well-respected and talented people, I was excited to get the opportunity to hear them talk about all the stuff they wouldn’t normally share on stage.
All the speakers were honest and forthright, talking about past mistakes and lessons learned, day-to-day issues and how to deal with them and their own personal stories as to how they got to where they are today, amongst a multitude of topics discussed. I was very impressed with Aral, Sarah and Jeremy - their passion for what they do really shined through and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who left feeling inspired and encouraged as a result.
In an informal setting like this, the audience is almost as important as the people up front - in this area I thought Insites really delivered. The group was big enough to have a really good discussion, without being so big as to be intimidating. Even I managed to stick up my hand and ask a question, which is unusual in that whenever the host says “…any questions?” I normally have a complete mental blackout!
The friendly and comfortable feel of the evening carried on in the bar upstairs as well as in the main room - copious pizza and drinks were laid on (which is more than Facebook managed at the Developer Garage I went to!), and the speakers were happy to be grilled further. Anyone who says that “web celebs” are unapproachable is wrong indeed, and I think that anyone else attending would agree.
To sum up, Insites was a brilliant evening in great company, with a lot of valuable lessons learned. My only disappointment as my fellow Croydon Creatives and I piled into the car for the journey home was that the evening couldn’t have been longer.
Image by Anthony Killeen
Posted on Wednesday, 20th July 2011.
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