Webstock 2011

Attended Webstock again this year with a group from work (Xero was the main sponsor which was awesome!) – even though some of the talks last year were a bit blue sky for me, I was glad to attend again this year even though I was left feeling rather shattered after 2 days in a darkened hall with 800 other people just listening and taking stuff in – rather different from the day-to-day hum drum.

As a sponsor we got to host a couple of the speakers for a chat and lunch in our office and The Mister got to meet one of his internet heroes Steve Souders from Google.

Craig meets Steve Souders

He took Steve to Nikau for lunch an he was super-impressed by the kedgeree – and really touched that after I heard this, I got him one of the Nikau tea towels with the kedgeree recipe on it – he said it was the best souvenir he’d ever received! (Meanwhile I’m kidding around saying if we ever visit California he can cook it for us … I really had no idea who this guy was nor his internet infamy, so to me he was just a lovely guy who liked Nikau as I pushed in front of the line of people waiting for their 5 minutes of fame with him! I went to his Webstock presentation, didn’t understand a word of it (way too geeky) but felt I should support him as my new friend, told him as much afterward and he roared with laughter!)

Again with the random notes I took, sometimes something the presenter said, sometimes a thought that popped into my head while they were speaking – read no further if conference notes aren’t your thing, I just wanted to write them down somewhere. I did feel a bit like I did last year where I didn’t ‘get’ it – I didn’t emerge having identified a particular theme or trend as others did, I wasn’t wowed by any new inventions, I thought after hearing a couple of things that I might change my ways but doubt that will happen – this all sounds like I was disappointed but I wasn’t! Well, perhaps disappointed in myself for not getting more out of it seeing as everyone else was raving that they did (or perhaps it’s like The English Patient that everyone crooned about, yet I felt like the only person in the world who didn’t enjoy it).

So, in speaker order:

Frank Chimero

  • Has blogs in draft, stories and thoughts he starts when they strike that he just finishes off some other time
  • mentioned The Catcher in the Rye – I’m sure I read that at school, can’t remember a thing about it, am wondering about reading it again
  • says we should ‘warm up’ our content and language, gave the example that you don’t describe your significant other as ‘72.8% water’ – factually correct but not very personable!

Michael Koziarski

  • There’s the real world and the Webstock world – the real world conserves money, works in cubicles, develops apps that look boring because you have to use them so no effort required and the Webstock world is all designery, with cool offices and a charmed life (had some great photos capturing the differences)
  • Talked about what happens on ‘Planet Webstock’, why companies on this planet seem to be successful:
    • small teams – more time in their lives to do work rather than time in meetings and keeping everyone informed
    • top talent – take recruitment seriously, hire people like yourself
    • best tech – most suitable technology for the job, ability to iterate, ship something small and make it better
    • make it work – managers should encourage ‘skunkworks’ projects and developers need to find a way to make their work fun, if you can’t you should quit.

Mark Pilgrim

If you want to be that guy that does that thing – pick a thing and go do it! But it has to be the right thing.

Jason Webley

Played the accordion. Was kind of spine tingling in that setting.

Steve Souders

As mentioned above, didn’t understand a lot of this, although it wasn’t totally foreign to me as I’ve been to a few of The Mister’s talks on the topic of performance and also sat through a few of his practice runs!

However, apart from all the acronyms I wrote down a couple of cool phrases (that I’m now trying to use in meetings at work!) …

  • speculative parsing
  • look-ahead tags
  • every byte of this Javascript is painful (sounds like a dental issue to me!)

Kristina Halvorson

  • WALL-E was left on earth with a pile of junk to sort and make sense of – that’s what’s happening to content on the web
  • WALL-E finds little interesting things to save and show – that’s essentially what we’re trying to do now with social media
  • Our websites are full of crap – people come to our sites to look for the interesting special things
  • Before you write any web content think: what, why, for whom, how, by whom, with what, when, how often, what next?

Doug Bowman

  • DELIGHT. When was the last time you experienced true delight? Your city lights at night? A movie? An experience?
  • Used the example of a child as the ultimate form of delight (oh what a sad and undelightful life I must have!)
  • Broaden searches for mentions of your company name to find delight that others have in your product or provide delight by responding (use things like ‘I wish [company] would’ and ‘I wish [company] had’)

John Gruber

Showed screen shots of old versions of Mac O/S and Mac/Apple apps tracked through time until now. Made me wonder if stuff on the web going to change as much in the next 20 years as they have in the last 20. Like if I started saving screen shots of Xero or other websites/apps from now on, could I put them up on a slide in 20 years and experience the gasps and nods of recognition and remembrance that he had with the Mac journey? (Or was that just all the Apple fan-boys jostling for some kind of knowledge credits?)

Marco Arment

People like you, geeks like you will ‘get’ your product – should aim for the non-geeks as typically that’s the larger customer base.

David McCandless

Absolutely fascinating. The collection, curation and storage of data that is pumped out as amazing infographics. Stuff about the environment, human behaviour, spending habits, comparison of trends and events. That saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is true in this case, and seeing numbers of things or values of things represented as different sized boxes is quite compelling and in my case easier to understand – even things like national debt of various countries.

Webstock 2011

Jason Cohen

Suggested Webstock was on a break-the-rules theme and had some wise words on the topic. Traditional bloggers have rules, like the roles of VIPs and sales guys – there are no hats and no departments in the startup world – just get on with it and make a good product – it’s everyone’s responsibility. Even if you don’t have a fancy title or hat, you might not understand but you can comprehend it. Give yourself credit.

Michael Lopp

If there was a table with 3 chairs at it in your life, in your future, who would be sitting there with you?

Scott McCloud

We’re so drawn to the human face and emotion that we can see a smiley face even in objects  : )  and showed some photos people had uploaded to picmoticon.com


Talked about The Grimace Project – facial expression sliders – learn to recognise one or more emotions in a face.

So no big themes for me, just a whole lot of interesting stuff. And the realisation surrounded by smart phones that I just don’t have any apps on my phone. About 4.


#1 Steve Souders on 03.03.11 at 3:12 am

We definitely have to spend more time together – I too felt overwhelmed by 2 days of awesome presenters, and also didn’t quite get English Patient. As soon as we got home my wife and I held the tea towel up figuring out where to hang it. That way the kedgeree recipe is always in sight. Thanks for hosting me. It was great meeting the Xero team.

#2 OrangeGirl on 03.03.11 at 8:42 am

Well I feel pretty special right about now 🙂 And I’ll be letting Nikau Cafe know their tea towel is a treasured possession!

#3 Webstock write-up wrangling on 02.27.12 at 1:01 am

[…] And from Catherine Walker (@orangegirlnz): Webstock 2011 […]

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