written by john lewis

Webstock08 Category Archive


I never managed to get around to a timely update of the fun I had Webstock. It was, as I’d hoped, a most excellent, inspiring, re-energising and fun conference – just like the first. The crew behind Webstock managed something that isn’t as common as we hope it to be in NZ.. which was to prove it wasn’t a fluke and pull it off for a second time. Well done guys, it’s no easy feat.

My highlights from the conference:

  • As I said before Webstock, I couldn’t wait to see Kathy Sierra again. While she did have a hard act to follow, thanks to Damian Conway, it was great to hear her talk again about creating passionate users. Our apps do have aspergers and I’ve been thinking ever since how to include a WTF button in Ponoko. Nobody is passionate about something they suck at.
  • Michael Lopp’s presentations on managing design and primal software development were great. Key takeaway for me was the “pony meeting”. Enjoyed talking shit about the iPhone outside Vintage with him at 2am too…
  • Damian Conway was freaking awesome, if you only watch one Webstock video (when they are uploaded) it should be this one.
  • Tom Coates – “Twitter is a service that displays error messages on the Internet”, “You can never have too much data”.
  • Kelly Goto’s getting unstuck was incredibly thought provoking.

My feedback for the conference is fairly similar to some other bits I’ve seen around the place. A ponder at why LukeW and Michael Lopp or Amy Hoy and Dan Cederholm were streamed while Molly Holzschlag wasn’t. No need to mention the Wifi either ;)

Only two more years till the next one, or is it?

Posted in: Webstock08, Work

Webstock WiFi-cked

Thanks to the ubiquity of things like iPhones and iPod Touchies all trying to connect to the WiFi as well as the usual laptops has meant no internet access for me since my first post this morning. I have been taking notes so the speeches from the afternoon will make it on here… eventually. Some of them were awesome!

Here’s a rather enterprising way a person let others now how he/she felt about the WiFi, cute:


Posted in: Webstock08

Webstock Thursday AM

Whoops. Got here way too late this morning and missed the welcome speech plus the first 20 mins of Nat Torkington’s speech. The goodie bag looks great and things around the conference hall look similar to 2006.

Nat Torkington
Nat presented well and only had minor hickups with his presentation with font issues that meant lot of text didn’t make it onto the slides. But he did really well dealing with it and probably had better audience attention because of it.

Nat talked about designing for the future using analogies from Victorian-era England. Strong messages were on measuring, gathering, and analysing data, then acting on it. The key trends he talked about were:

Growth in computing power just gets soaked up. We will use any addition power we create.

Newspapers are dead and TV is starting to realise they have no control over their content. Journalism on the web (not citizen journalism) and what we’re seeing (more on the data message).

Users expect immediacy. Design for mobile devices! Ubiquity BUT they can be walled gardens.

They may be lazy and irrational but learn how they will act and react. Read Mind Hacks by Tim Stafford. Important notes: people focus on short-term gain, fairness, and the thrill of overcoming a challenge for the first time (hedonic adaption). We also overestimate our confidence.

Gather info. Admit you were right/wrong. Act based on the data.

Thoroughly enjoyable speech and a great session to start the conference.

Molly Holzschlag
Molly talked on why web standards aren’t. It was a good presentation on web standards but may have been a bit too focused for the whole audience. Slide design wasn’t necessarily poor but could be improved. Some really good questions were asked such as “have we failed on the ideology or has the ideology failed us?” “Is it standards vs. best practice or standards vs. interoperability?”. Molly has been working with web standards for 10 years!

Shawn Henry
Shawn spoke on making your website shine with accessibility. This was a tough ask with me because I don’t think anyone could beat Darren Fittler’s presso in 06. She used some great examples of people using mouth-sticks to type, or just their thumb. How is their experience compared to you assumptions on how people should use your site? The screen reader demo was good but it doesn’t top watching a blind Darren Fittler use it. Shawn finished with a good call to action – fight the good fight with accessibility.

Posted in: Webstock08

Coding for freedom, again?

Webstock 08Hands up who’s heading to Webstock this year? Cool! I’ll see you there.

I’ve been looking forward to Webstock for a long time now and I still question their decision to hold it every two years. But the wait is over and tomorrow the conference proper starts and then wraps up on Friday evening. Sibylle has already attended one of the workshops and she got to show off her goodie bag at work yesterday. They look insanely cool!

I think I’m most looking forward to Kathy Sierra, she was f…ing brilliant last time and I guess I’m not expecting anything less. She is breaking her “silence” at Webstock too. I feel quite honored she chose Webstock to do so.

Last time I tried my best at live-blogging the event and got quite a good response for it. I’ll see how it goes but there is a good chance you’ll see a dozen posts on this neglected blog for the next couple of days. ;)

P.S. I’m still perplexed by that slogan. Are we really coding for freedom?

Posted in: Webstock08