European Tour

~ 27 June 2006 ~

Swiss valley

Towards the end of last week, Suzanne and I landed on U.S. soil, wrapping up a wonderful speaking/vacation trip to Europe. What a trip, literally and figuratively! The culture, the landscape, the people, the food…

Highlights from our stay in London:

  • Dave Shea guides tours as well as he codes markup. We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and ran into him in the hotel lobby. He then took us on a tour of the city for the remainder of the day and did a fabulous job.
  • At the speakers dinner the night before the conference, Molly Holzschlag pointed to Andy Clarke’s plate of Indian food and asked, “How would you mark that up?” I thought it was just unabashed geek speak until I heard Andy’s session. It all made complete sense after that.
  • It seems we unintentionally targeted the non-designer crowd with our Good vs. Great Design panel. The feedback I’ve been privy to seems to indicate the developers enjoyed it, while the designers felt it was a bit too Graphic Design 101. All things considered, it seems the panel was enjoyed by most in attendance.
  • Jon Hicks is a much better speaker than he leads one to believe. Join me in begging Jon to speak more often.
  • I believe my mobile web presentation went over rather well. What seemed like the warmest round of applause I’ve ever received was given following the presentation. I’m not sure that was indicative of my material, but rather of the quality of the crowd. Slides won’t be available but much of the information will (I hope) in the coming weeks. And it was quite the pleasure speaking with developers from Opera and Nokia (among others) after the preso.
  • I learned a thing or two about my speaking style this time around. I’ve discovered I spend too much time on the presentation and not enough time on the presentation. Makes total sense, no? Or put another way, too much time on the material and not enough time the way it’s delivered. Each has equal importance in producing a successful presentation, and I’ll be working on synchronizing the two before resuming speaking in the fall.
  • I had a chance to witness CNN International first-hand. (I’ve been assuming all along, correctly or incorrectly, that it wasn’t available in the states.) The recent on-screen redesign is incredible. It’s a visual exercise in beautiful simplicity.
  • On our final night in London I stumbled across an exemplary “Norman door”. If that doesn’t sound familiar, you must immediately slap some sense into yourself and grab a copy of The Design of Everyday Things.

The morning after the conference concluded we flew over to Switzerland and spent three days in Geneva, Gruyeres, and Interlaken. This was my second stay in Switzerland, with 15 years separating the two trips. My mother’s father is full Swiss, which in turn makes me one-quarter Swiss. Hence, we have close ties to the country. In fact, we still have relatives in the area.

Highlights from our stay in Switzerland:

  • If you make only one trip to Europe in your lifetime, you absolutely, unequivocally must visit Switzerland. If these photos don’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
  • I’m not sure why, but I photographed just about every door in the tiny town of Gruyeres. I shot one, then two, and then suddenly found myself capturing every door I could. I’ve uploaded the crème de la crème to Flickr.
  • I’m a huge football (soccer) fan. I spent any chance I could watching the World Cup, available on at least 5 different channels and in 3 different languages, which puts U.S. coverage of the matches to shame.
  • Speaking of Switzerland and football, I’d say we need to work on our PKs, kids.

Lastly, perhaps the most intriguing conversation I had was a short but poignant one with the owner of a a small shop in Gruyeres. It went a little something like this:

Elderly lady: “(something in French I didn’t understand)”

Me: “Je ne parle pas français.”

Lady: “Je ne parle pas anglais, mais parlo italiano.”

Me: “Hablo español.”

Lady: “Ah, hablo un poquito nada mas.”

There’s something eloquently beautiful about communication that transcends language barriers.

So cheers, au revoir, and adios for now, Europe. I hope it’s not long before we embrace once again.



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1   Greg ~ 27 June 2006 at 08:53 AM

Speaking of Switzerland and football, I’d say we need to work on our PKs, kids.

That was a heartbreak.

Cameron, did you notice any big differences in the information design of European Cup coverage?

2   Clifton ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:01 AM

Sounds like a great trip. Sure puts my summer vacation to Park City to shame. I need to get out more. My wife would agree.

Great links, great words, great honk. Thanks, Cameron.

3   Cameron Moll ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:10 AM

Greg - On-screen info design you mean? If so, certainly. It’s much along the lines of CNN International — simple, refined, not a lot of screen chrome, unlike the US.

In fact, watching the Swiss game yesterday was the first match I’d seen on US TV. It was quite a pity to see ESPN’s two-bar, advert, info overload, in contrast to that of European TV coverage. I need the score and the time remaining on-screen, peeps. That’s it.

4   Mark Boulton ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:14 AM

Great to meet you again Cameron, and nice to meet Suzanne. Shame you couldn’t spend more time in Switzerland - it’s a country which has just *so* much to offer.

5   Richard Rutter ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:14 AM

Great to meet you again Cameron. Glad you enjoyed Europe so much.

Jon Hicks is a much better speaker than he leads one to believe.

Here, here! (Hear that Hicks? I’m not the only one who says so).

If you make only one trip to Europe in your lifetime, you absolutely, unequivocally must visit Switzerland.

Again: here, here. The Swiss Alps in particular, from my experience.

Speaking of Switzerland and football, I’d say we need to work on our PKs, kids.

Bah, if they’d had bothered to actually try and the win the match they wouldn’t have need to practise penalties. Here’s to hoping England can manage something better against Portugal.

6   Steve Williams ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:17 AM

What a great vacation! I hope working @media didn’t take too much of the shine off your trip?

Speaking of @media, have you been inundated with links to mobile wiki’s since your presentation? If so, please tell…

7   Cameron Moll ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:28 AM

Mark - Same to you! Great chatting with you over lunch.

Richard - Uh, good point :-)

Steve - No links yet, but hoping they flow freely soon.

8   Maria ~ 27 June 2006 at 09:36 AM

Hablas Español, huh?
In your conversation with the lady, I find the smooth, threaded change of languages so cute. I love Italian! Wish it was as simple as just adding “ini” to the end of every Spanish word.

Great book referal… I didn’t know about it, and it’s now in my wishlist.

9   Cameron Moll ~ 27 June 2006 at 12:18 PM

Claro que si, Maria.

10   Micheal ~ 27 June 2006 at 01:04 PM


I live in the states, and must agree that the CNN international design (which does air here) absolutely wonderful.

You actually start to feel as though the screen became bigger and you are actually there because now you can see so much more.

11   Philip ~ 27 June 2006 at 02:37 PM

Ahh, you make me yearn once again for travel and for Switzerland. I was there for a month in June, very near to Interlaken (Einigen, just outside of Thun, on the lake). Absolutely amazing place. My only sadness was that it was not in the French speaking portion as I do speak French. I love the multi-lingual aspect of Switzerland, not to mention Europe as a whole. Those types of conversations are so good. While in Europe I also stayed a month in Spain and my host family, save one boy who wasn’t around much, spoke no more than a few English words. I only speak as much Spanish as a kid growing up in the NorthWest would pick up while learning French. It was a lot of fun to communicate.

I wholeheartedly agree - visit Switzerland.
Wow, I miss traveling!

12   Joshua ~ 27 June 2006 at 06:32 PM

It’s good to have you back stateside! Glad to hear that you and your wife had some good vacation time after the conference. The pictures are simply amazing, looks like a great place to go.

Good luck on all the catch-up!

13   Kevin Braun ~ 27 June 2006 at 08:51 PM

Couldn’t agree more about Switzerland. Had the chance to go there with my wife about 6 years ago. We also went to Gruyeres, and I did the exact same thing, photos of doors. Just love the static compostition. I was shooting BW film that day with a 30 yr old Nikormat, available light only.

I’m also a graphic design, more emphasis on print, but some web stuff as well. I have enjoyed this site for about 6 months or so. Thanks for all the insight.

14   Pere Benavent ~ 28 June 2006 at 12:45 AM

I’ve been reading you for a long time … you surprise me a lot, me trying to improve my english (so ugly by now) and you spanish seems to me perfect, sincerely.

Last August I was in London I find also, a man in ticket’s service at Tate Modern Gallery who speaks spanish very well.

Oops! I forget, I’m spanish, reader devoted from Spain.

15   Mats Lindblad ~ 28 June 2006 at 04:21 AM

I’d like some links to mobile DTD’s and stuff like that. I’m having some problem finding the “right” one. :)

16   alain ~ 28 June 2006 at 05:46 AM

Glad to hear you a great time in the CH. I grew up there, spending eight of my formative years living outside of Zurich. In fact, I am typing this from my parents home right now, whom we are visiting on vacation.. They still live over here, which provides a great excuse to travel here every year or so. This year we brought our two year old son for the first time. So far, he loves it! Especially all the lakes. Oh, and the chocolate.

17   Les Reynolds ~ 28 June 2006 at 07:58 AM

I agree with you about the soccer/football games. In Canada the the games on TSN and Sportsnet must come from a European feed, I think England? Just a nice small score and time elapsed in the top corner. They had some technical difficulties once and switched over to the ESPN feed. I feel your pain.

18   Cameron Moll ~ 28 June 2006 at 08:32 AM

Pere - De lo que veo, hablas ingles bien!

Mats - Which DTD(s) have you tried? And have you run into problems?

19   Francisco ~ 30 June 2006 at 01:52 AM

Very good photos!! I’m a big fan of the old Europe buildings.

When will be a design conference in Barcelona?

No te debes perder la Sagrada Familia de Gaudí!!!

20   Leo Kennis ~ 30 June 2006 at 04:02 AM

Yes, Switzerland is beautiful. I especially like Lausanne. If you are looking for hiking in the mountains though, Austria would be your choice since it has more small, tiny, cute mountains and hills since it’s on the edge of the Alps. (I’m Dutch btw, so this is not some “elitist chauvinism” ;) )

21   JaX ~ 01 July 2006 at 04:26 AM

That’s awesome Cameron, after @media, I eventually ended up in Interlaken, Switzerland. Gorgeous, yeah? We went paragliding over the city and the lakes. Right now we’re in Munich, and it was exciting to watch the game yesterday when Germany won. They sure know how to celibrate over here.

It was great hearing you speak. Both of your presentations taught me new concepts and reinforced old ones. =)

22   Zoe ~ 04 July 2006 at 09:57 AM

Cameron, your photos of Switzerland are beautiful! What did you take them with?

23   Juanma ~ 05 July 2006 at 07:09 AM

I second all your opinions on soccer (fútbol for us), Switzerland and most important, about languages.

On a side note, did NOT know you spoke spanish, I’m so proud of my language and there is so much beauty in it. Un abrazo y mucha suerte, desde Paraguay!

24   Milos ~ 08 July 2006 at 12:07 PM

Dear Cameron!
Amazing journey! Like a globetrotter. Have you ever been in Montengro - wonderful landscapes, seaside, good food, friendly people and best weather, too.

Impressive Website!

25   javier ~ 14 July 2006 at 02:25 PM

I just got to say that it is so cool that you enjoyed the time you spent in Europe. I am Mexican Italian and every time I go to Europe I come back with many stories and emotions that make my creativity more sensible and simple to create good ways in communication among the tradeshow booth and exhibits I design.


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