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Webstock 2010 - Highlights from my notes - Day 2

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Day 2 of Webstock - Friday 19 Feb. I saw the following presentations:

  1. The Lean Startup
  2. Iterative Design Strategies
  3. Double-Click to Edit
  4. When Your Idea Doesn't Suck
  5. Designing for Participation
  6. 10 Tips For New Web Entrepreneurs
  7. Elements of a Networked Urbanism
  8. How the Web Works
  9. Dense and Thick

I'm sorry for the length of this post. I wrote it to reinforce what I learnt at Webstock. I hope you'll read it anyway.

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The Lean Startup

It's all about the team

Eric Ries (@ericries) said there's three things you want to do in a startup:

  • Change the world.
  • Build an organization of lasting value.
  • Make customers lives better.

Most startups fail, but it doesn't have to be that way. With better practices, they can succeed.

A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under condition of extreme uncertainty. It is this extreme uncertainty that means general management techniques are not the techniques you need for entrepreneurial management

Successful startups strip away the bad ideas, letting the good ideas flourish. These good ideas are not necessarily the ideas considered when starting out. Rapid iterations are necessary to do this.

Failure in startups can be caused by "shadow beliefs", which are never stated:

  1. We know what the customers want. Value is in the eye of the customer, but startups don't know the customer.
  2. We can predict the future. Waterfall software development works when the problem and the solution are both known. Agile works when the problem is known and the solution is unknown. Startups deal with the situation where the problem is unknown and therefore the solution is unknown.
  3. Advancing the plan is progress. The biggest waste of startups is building something that customers don't want. It doesn't matter if it's on schedule if no-one wants it.

The short iteration time is essential for a successful startup, but the time to optimise this the complete feedback loop, (Learn → Build → Measure → Learn) not just one part. Continuous deployment works by:

  • Deploy fast.
  • Identify bad changes.
  • Revert bad changes (after human review).
  • Work in small batches, no items more than 3 days work.


Iterative Design Strategies – Embracing Evolution

You're going to have an ugly baby

Daniel Burka (@Dburka) says to take chances and release your product. Don't try to predict everything your product will do. See the 'desire paths' of users and build with the expectation of change. Subtraction is iteration too. Don't be afraid to remove a feature useful by only a few users
Listen to your users, both explicit and implicit feedback.

Recommended reading: How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built


Double Click to Edit - Shift+Cmd+R: Hard Refresh Your Design

Who, if not me?
When? If not now?

Amy Hoy (@amyhoy) told us that no-one is going to invite us to be great. We have to build your own greatness. Creating an iphone to-do app, or an RSS reader is not going to be great, they all have a sameness. Understand how someone uses their tools and what their needs are, as opposed to just copying others.

Affecting (and improving) the quality of someone's day is the highest of arts.


When Your Idea Doesn't Suck: How to stop working for clients and launch a startup

Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries) asked that his presentation not be blogged.


Designing for Participation

Uncover buried treasures

Bek Hodgson (@bekini) said "curate by the community". Changing from taxonomy to folksonomy allows the community to curate the way they understand, making it useful for everyone.

Accept that user generated content may not suit the palette of your site.

Consider how your site will look like with a little or a lot of content, such as a user's profile page.


10 Tips For New Web Entrepreneurs

Attend parties for events you can't afford. Bring a presentation

Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) detailed 10 useful points.

  1. Go build it
  2. Build and release
  3. Hire your boss
  4. Raising money
  5. Go cheap
  6. Connect with your community
  7. Hack the press - ways to get free PR
  8. Advisors
  9. Leverage your user base to spread the word
  10. Analyse your traffic


Elements of a Networked Urbanism

Information persists

Adam Greenfield (@agpublic) reminded us we have no privacy is public, to assume any camera we walk past in public is on.

Computing devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous, we need to consider the social and ethical consequences. We are all surrounded with a network of things that know what is going on in their environment, and our actions are being shared, with someone.

Migration from small communities to a city, or from one city to another used to provide anonymity; but not any more.


How the Web Works

Prototype before polishing

Jeff Veen (@veen) talked about the historical progress, from ice to refrigerators. Some industries transition, some don't, so get it out there.

Speed of iteration beats quality of iteration. As you release iterations you can get consensus from users as to what you should be providing.


Dense and Thick

[the web is] all things to all people

Mark Pesce (@mpesce) reminded us, that like at primary school, sharing something makes it more valuable. He talked about how the web has revolutionised the world, and the next revolution could be anywhere. The future is in our hands, and the world is clamouring to get into cyberspace.

His words are available here.


These last three presenters covered a lot of material, too much for me to make good notes, which is why these are so sparse. I look forward to the videos of the presentations being released.

More coming soon. What was your experience of the Friday speakers? Is there someone else I should have seen?

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By Brian Logan   Wed 24-Feb-2010

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