Webstock & ONYAs

Attended my first ever Webstock conference at the Wellington Town Hall last week. It’s a collection of internet celebs & cool dudes talking about things they’ve done and places they think internet and our lives online are going to go. About 20 of us from Xero attended the 2-day conference – all decked out in our Xero gear (which didn’t go unnoticed!)

Xero colours

Half of us went on to the ONYAs Awards (as in ‘Good On Ya’) on Friday night to recognise stars in the online world. Xero picked up 3 of the 4 awards we were nominated for which was great and The Mister had to go up to accept one of them. I did a quick write up with some photos and a video of an amazing digital light-show that used the Town Hall pipe organ as its centre piece on the Xero blog.

ONYAs Awards ONYA - Best Web Application

Following are some notes I took during the 2 days so you can stop reading now if you want to, no more pictures, just notes to self really!

  • The Wellington Convention Centre provide great note pads – strong cardboard backing that maintains its shape when it’s balanced on your knee or awkward positions & smooth paper that lets your hand & the pen glide while writing without resistance
  • Brian Fling – finally gave a definition of Gen X & Gen Y that I get. He said: X = raised to be independent thinkers & Y = raised to use networks. Now I understand what generation I’m in.
  • Shelley Bernstein – said most of her meaningful conversations on Twitter are NOT 9 to 5 – manning the @TeamXero account, I totally agree! Use Flickr & Twitter to take people on your journey with you. No-one knows where content comes from any more – it’s all just photos, quotes and videos.
  • Jeff Atwood – said you might think programming is complicated but actually it’s not, people are way more complicated. Their motivations, moods, beliefs, whether or not they like each other, what they agree & disagree with – that’s complicated! Also said that we need less big-W work & more little-w work in our lives: W = your boss tells you to do it & you get paid for it & w = you do it because you like it & enjoy it. Great quote: “The speed and voracity of the reply to your customer feedback sets the tone for your product …
  • Rives – takes photos of people while he’s on the subway & is often asked ‘do people see you doing it?’ & ‘don’t they think you’re creepy?’ – he said no to both. [So perhaps I should be less afraid of both!]
  • Isn’t it Americans that bleep out swearing on the TV? They sure swore a lot on stage – not sure if it was a sense of freedom that they could do it here or that they thought we’re a swearing nation & that they’d be more readily accepted if they did.
  • Amy Hoy – said software should improve people’s lives, cited evolution as being something not necessarily designed well – take the spine, it’s essential but it can hurt all the time.
  • Eric Ries – told stories about start-ups. Said 90% fail. Start-ups are about the people, but how do you know the person with the big idea is an entrepreneur & not a crazy person?
  • Daniel Burka – said to iterate the design. He was involved in building the Digg community – just get it out there and get feedback. When you think you’ve got enough feedback, ask again!
  • Mike Davidson – more on start-ups but described what he was talking about as the stuff that goes into a sausage i.e. everyone likes eating a sausage but not thinking about what goes into it & how it’s made.
  • Kevin Rose – the entrepreneur behind Digg, gave 10 start-up tips, many of which we’ve heard already.
  • Mark Pesce – talked about augmented reality & said ubiquitous about 10 times in 40 minutes! Said that we could have a future when we’re putting goods on our trolleys at the supermarket while they’re being monitored by our mobile device, it’d be taking stock of everything – what the food contains, expiry date, farm it came from, whether or not you can afford it, if it’s good for you based on your current fat/protein/water content etc.
  • Ester Derby on management – what of these do we as managers know or use?:
    • How does the work really work? – the further you are away from what the work is the less you can understand it & provide the environment in which it can be done best.
    • What information and tools do people need to do their work?
    • What are the feedback loops & check points you have in place? – the only way you can make things work better is to find out what’s not working – staff and customers.
    • How do you know when a chunk of work is done? – at task level it’s often “aaaaah, am almost finished’. How do you measure DONE anyway? What’s your common definition?
    • What IS the capacity of your team?
    • Can you tell when you’re off track? – use smaller work chunks
    • Do you have rating system? Policies and procedures?
    • What happens when people bring unwelcome news? If someone says no to you?
    • What do I know that ain’t so? Like do bonuses REALLY make people work harder? Do people REALLY work for money? Especially in technical fields, they’re likely to be working because they love it. Do you want people there just for the money? Surely you want people to want to be there? Performance reviews are quite dehumanising – give feedback at the time.
    • What do we seem to forget in the work environment? Things that you know are so but don’t seem to bring to work. How many things are you doing at once? – don’t stuff the pipe! 5 knitting projects will get done slower than one. Multi-tasking DOES slow things down. Driving to work at rush hour is slower than picking another time.
  • After sitting through numerous presentations on starting your own company & being an entrepreneur I still don’t feel inspired to be one. Just not in my DNA I guess.


#1 Jason on 03.05.10 at 2:52 pm

This is the best Webstock wrap-up I’ve come across. Good job!

#2 OrangeGirl on 03.05.10 at 5:16 pm

Wow – thanks for that feedback. Having never been to a Webstock I was rather paranoid I wouldn’t ‘get it’ but I guess as long as something makes you think, it doesn’t matter what it was 🙂

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