Except for Google I/O, I never go to large or corporate conferences anymore. Since years back, I have by pure luck (or by being interested in the right things) found this complete gems, like the JSConfs in different reincarnations and regions, but closely snug together with them in my heart is the Sharp family's Full Frontal in Brighton.
I was lucky enough to attend the very first one in 2009, just weeks after attending the first European JSConf in Berlin, being completely floored by Jake Archibald's deadpan, on-the-spot humor and Simon Willison's last talk who he had completely rewritten after seeing (as I did) Ryan Dahl present node.js for the first time at the previously mentioned JSConf. The energy and the passion of these guys completely floored me and I later found myself talking about them and the conf very often and for way too long.
The boring terms for the magic sauce of Full Frontal is probably 'meticulously curated', but I really think that's what it is. It's a one-day, one-track conference with just the best of everything. I don't like all talks at all times, but most, I do, and not a little.
I could go on about great moments from other years, but will instead just applaud this year's choices like Chris Wilson (above) who talked about his days creating the Mosaic browser and working on most versions of IE at Microsoft before joining Google two years ago. It was history. My own, incidentally, remembering downloading NCSA Mosaic from a local university FTP site and all things that have happened since.
But the speakers are one thing and the context and environment is another. The event always takes place at the Duke of Yorks' picture house, and old cinema in the middle of Brighton. For me it's very much a Groundhog day experience, but in a nice way. The weather is always coldish but not like it would be in Sweden, there's always a war memorial celebration about and I always stay at the same hotel.
Also, my friends are there, new and old. There's lots of drinking (well, I am drinking anyway :) and gapping about important things (programming and SF&F). It's a very, very welcoming atmosphere (again very much like the JSConfs) with warm quirks like the sponsor Dharmafly who set up a rack with small potted plants to take home.
I was nearly unable to go this year since I've done so much flying to promote the Escape from /dev/null programming competition (it sounds slightly meaningless at the surface but is really cool when you know more - hence the need to fly about) and I'd like to thank my wife for letting me fly *again* to goof off at a wonderful conference with my pals. I love you.