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Webstock '09 - What I learnt

Categories: Announcements, Day to day

What a week it's been at Webstock. I learnt a lot and I'll try to distil it here.

Webstock Workshops

Presentation Aikido, with Damian Conway, taught me to be competent, passionate, entertaining, prepared, stylish, interactive, and to be myself when presenting. Practice helps with all of these.


Data-mining and machine learning for social data
, with Toby Segaran, opened my eyes to possibilities of learning more about our current customers.

Managing Humans and Projects, with Michael Lopp, taught me that there are 3 types of meetings: Alignment, where info is conveyed; Creation, where we brainstorm; and Therapy, where nothing useful will occur.He also taught me to state the obvious; it may not be obvious fro someone else; and that it's all about people.

Webstock Conference

Mike Brown's opening of the Conference was a great start.

Gaming Reality, with Jane McGonigal, taught me that predicting the future is less useful than designing possible futures, and working toward making the best happen. She also taught that games make us happy, and that good games amplify our potential.

Better, Stronger, Faster Failures, with Nat Torkington taught me that feedback loops lead to improvement, and failure is awesome because you learn and improve from it. To fail before the outcome of failure gets big.

The Wisdom of Communities, with Derek Powazek taught me that groups get stupid when they stop thinking, that we benefit more from large diverse groups than small groups, and that we should design to appeal to people's selfish nature.

Content, Communities & Collaboration, with Meg Pickard, taught me that people consume, react to, curate, and/or create content; that context has deposed content as being king; and that latent communities exist; that we go from being an audience to being participants to being a community.

Open, Social Web, with David Recordon taught me that social networks are currently isolated; that social application each do one good thing, and that good, interoperable, building blocks are being formed to allow us to easily build good, social sites.

A mashup case study: EveryBlock.com, with Adrian Holovaty, made we think of potential data that could freely add value to current products. (I'd still like to get up-to-date crime information to show in a map.)

Shepherding Passionate Communities, with Heather Champ, gave us rules:

  1. Respect your members
  2. Put more tools into the hands of your members
  3. Don't wait to make changes
  4. Feedback has a life-cycle
  5. Own your failures
  6. Make lemonade
  7. Embrace the chaos

Being Geek, with Michael Lopp, resonated as it covered how a geek relates to their surrounds, and how we can work with these traits.

The explicit, with Ze Frank, entertained with highlights of his projects. He showed how engaging with users, and showing the results of that, helps build communities and fans.

Content: Who's Doin' It Right?, with Russell Brown, taught us how big media is struggling to keep the reins of control on their information, and that the new generation is sidelining them.

Madame Butterfly On Accessibility, with Derek Featherstone, showed the problems that just meeting the accessibility guidelines is not enough, that we can do thing to make our sites even more accessible.

Your Business Plan Is Science Fiction – And That's a Good Thing, with Annalee Newitz, taught us that science fiction prepares us for the next generation of computers and technology; that it gives us the vocabulary to refer to the future products; and that we need to address the fears expressed.

Why Semantics?, with Toby Segaran, taught us what semantic data is, and how semantic models can give us fast access to data in sparse datasets. This provided additional insight into his data mining workshop earlier this week.

A retrospective of ballet classics Why Chrome?, with Ben Goodger taught us how and why Google created its Chrome browser, and it wanted to achieve.

The Demon-Haunted World, with Matt Jones, taught us how people are starting to build things form the bottom up, and to always design a thing by considering it's next largest context – chair to room to house to city….

Instrumenting your life, with Tom Coates, taught us that dealing with privacy should be used as a competitive advantage, that data, not technology is driving new products, the customers are the ones to decide whether something is personal or private (there is a difference).

The Short but Glorious Life of Web 2.0, And What Comes Afterward, by Bruce Sterling, taught me that attitudes about technology are vague; that sermons, rather than presentations, lose the interest of the audience; that you need to talk with the audience, not at them; that the message (and I believe it was important) can get lost with the delivery. Hopefully when I read it later I will get more out of it.

Web 2.0.1, with Damian Conway, was hilarious as expected. It had some important truths, including the need for a Hippocratic oath for web design.
I swear to:

  • To learn and share good design practices
  • And then do my best using those practices
  • While avoiding the things I know to be fatal
  • I will not pretend to be a specialist in technologies I know little about
  • I won’t screw my clients (metaphorically)
  • I will preserve my clients confidentiality

by 5 steps

  1. Help them to find you
  2. Help them to find it
  3. Help them to read it
  4. Help them to understand
  5. Help them to buy (or acquire) it

The standing ovation for Natasha Hall at the end of Webstock was well-deserved. I took a lot away from Webstock'09 and hope to be able to use it.

Other bits

I had a great time meeting people, putting faces to names, drinking lots of good coffee, meeting people, eating tasty ice cream, meeting people, playing the card game, and meeting people.

This was my experience with Webstock'09. What's yours?

By Brian Logan Permalink Sun 22-Feb-2009

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