The Future of Web Apps London October 2007

Well it’s been a busy and crazy week but I’ve finally got some time to tell you all about my 3 Days in London attending The mashup* demo event and of course the awesome Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo which included the Live Filming of Episode 118 of Diggnation and the Carsonified Relaunch Party! :D

Unfortunately I didn’t have a laptop to do any Live Blog coverage :( like I would have liked to so instead I took what notes I could on paper and took plenty of photos along with a couple of videos.

Mashup* Demo Event – Day Before FOWA

First up let me tell you about the Mashup* Demo event, In running order the following companies demoed, yes they only had 5 minutes to demo, this made sure they got to the point of why we should try out their site/service/product etc and why investors should invest in them:

3.30pm – Serena Software
3.35pm – Mobestar
3.40pm – 15 Second TV
3.45pm – BabelTV
3.50pm – WeLoveLocal.com
3.55pm – Rummble
4.00pm – Magpie
4.05pm – Inspire
4.10pm – Bondaii
4.15pm – Meecard
4.20pm – Serena Software
4.25pm – Rollsense
4.30pm – Fav.or.it
4.35pm – Kwiqq
4.40pm – Tipped
4.45pm – testcard.tv

I have yet to test fully every site/service/product on this list; however I hope to do very soon. The venue it’s self was great and I had some interesting talks with people such as James Dyer (TestCard.Tv) and Dominik Grolimund, Co-Founder and CEO of Caleido who has created Wuala, which is a new way of storing, sharing, and publishing files on the internet.

I would however like to make some suggestions for improvements, mainly on the after party hosted by Blognation, as part of their UK Launch of Blognation. Me and a few others agreed that some music would have been nice to go along with that disco ball they Club had, along with some food/nibbles as it was dinner time by then…

Other than that it was pretty good, I’ll be sure to be checking out each and every site/service/product in more detail. By the way Richard Brooks (Managing Director of The 100 Year Website) where were you – someone said they talked to you but we couldn’t find you again – hope you had a good time and that my invite for you to come was worthwhile! ;)

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The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo (FOWA) – Day 1

Ok now let me tell you a little lot about The FOWA Conference and Expo.

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Welcome from Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA Conference Chairs
We were first welcomed by Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA Conference Chairs, along with Ryan Carson, co-founder of Carsonified (Carson Systems), they gave us a quick talk on what we could expect over the next 2 to 3 days at FOWA.

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What is the Future of Web Apps? We Discuss! – Om Malik, (GigaOM) & Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
After this brief welcome to FOWA there was a discussion between Ryan Carson, Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, Inc and Michael Arrington, serial entrepreneur and operator of TechCrunch. In this talk they talked a about how web apps are changing the web and how we can benefit from them.

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10 Real-world Apps That Represent The Future of Web Apps – Ben Forsaith (Adobe)
10 Real-world Apps That Represent The Future of Web Apps was a fast pace session presented by Ben Forsaith (Andrew Shorten), product specialist with Adobe UK, in which he demoed 10 Web Apps that were using Adobe technology such as Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime)

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High Performance Websites – Steve Souders (Yahoo!)
High Performance Websites was the first developer track session of the day, and was presented by Steve Souders, who works at Yahoo! as the Chief Performance Yahoo!, where he has developed a set of best practices for making web sites faster.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Examples of High Performance Websites (Comparisons)
  • Importance of the backend
  • Memory Cache
  • iFrames
  • YSlow

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The Future of Search – Tony Conrad (Sphere)
The Future of Search was the second business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Tony Conrad, who is a Venture capitalist turned entrepreneur who co-founded Sphere (previously Yodel Search).

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Sphere past/present/future
  • Sphere Widgets (as seen on popular sites like the New York Times, Pop Sugar, TechCrunch, Cool Hunting, All Things D, TIME, AOL News, GigaOM, Wall Street Journal, Access Hollywood, Captains Quarters, ZDNet, O’Reilly Radar and many more)
  • BlogBurst

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The Art of Attractive Yet Useable Sites – Robin Christopherson (AbilityNet)
The Art of Attractive Yet Useable Sites was the second business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Robin Christopherson, who despite being blind, uses a computer very effectively by relying on speech output to access the full range of mainstream software including email and the internet. So he has a first-hand appreciation of the importance of good web design practice to accessibility, which is great for AbilityNet’s Web Consultancy services which he manages.

In his talk he talked about how over 90% of sites are still illegal because they do not meet the required accessibility standards and how sites which are accessibility friendly are really easy to use for people who are vision impaired.

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*Lunch Break*
It’s Lunch Time, so I took a walk around the ExCeL Building and the FOWA Expo Hall.

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How User Feedback can Influences Design – Daniel Burka (digg / Pownce)
How User Feedback can Influences Design was the third developer session of the day, and was presented by Daniel Burka, who is the creative director at Digg and is one of the cofounders of Pownce.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Gathering User Feedback
  • Reacting to Feedback
  • Are the changes worth it?
  • Creating user feedback communities.
  • Anticipating areas of friction.
  • Digg Images Digg Images: A dedicated images section (with thumbnails). Still on track to launch in late October. – Kevin Rose

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The Architecture Behind WordPress.com – Matt Mullenweg (WordPress)
The Architecture Behind WordPress.com was the fourth developer session of the day, and was presented by Matt Mullenweg, who is best known as the founding developer of WordPress, the blogging software tool.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • WordPress ;)
  • WordPress MU
  • WordPress.com VIP Hosting
  • Wordcamp
  • Equalities to look for when hiring people (e.g. Personalities, Ability to learn, Taste, Passion for space, Familiarity with Technologies etc)

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Building a Community (Creating and Running Communites) – Matthew Haughey (MetaFilter)
Building a Community was the fifth developer session of the day, and was presented by Matthew Haughey, who is best known as the founder of the community weblog MetaFilter, where he is known as mathowie.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Building a community
  • Community growth
  • Build for yourself first / Eat your own dogfood
  • Use Guidelines not Rules in communities
  • Tailor to community norms
  • Every community suffers a revolute eventually
  • Ways to avoid community disasters (e.g. Be transparent, honest, responsive. Have a dedicated place to talk about the site/product etc. Explain why you made changes.)
  • Always acknowledge your mistakes
  • And last of all remember to find out what’s illegal and where?

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Taking Your Application Mobile – Heidi Pollock (BluePulse)
Taking Your Application Mobile was the sixth developer session of the day, and was presented by Heidi Pollock, who having left Yahoo! Mobile, started to work as a contractor for Twitter and then more recently started work for the Australian start-up, Bluepulse, fulltime.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  • Bluepulse
  • Firefox Extensions
  • Developing Mobile Web Sites for Mobile Phones.
  • Optimising Web Sites for Mobile Phones.
  • Mobile Acid Test (http://jwtmp.com/a)

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The Future of Firefox and JavaScript – John Resig (Mozilla Corporation)
The Future of Firefox and JavaScript was the seventh developer session of the day, and was presented by John Resig, who is a programmer working for the Mozilla Corporation. As well as being a programmer for Mozilla, he is also the creator and lead developer of the jQuery JavaScript library. He is also the author of the book ‘Pro Javascript Techniques.’ And is currently located in Cambridge, MA.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • The Future of Mozilla Fireox
  • SVG/Canvas 3D
  • OpenGL in Browsers
  • <video></video> and <audio></audio> Tags etc..

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7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About That You Can Use in Your Future Web Apps – Mark Quirk & Jon Harris (Microsoft)
This session was presented by Mark Quirk who joined Microsoft UK in 1992 as a senior support engineer for Microsoft development tools and is now the product manager responsible for Visual Studio and web development at Microsoft UK.  And also by Jon Harris who used to work for Macromedia but is now a Microsoft User Experience Evangelist.

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Lessons Learned From Launching Digg & Pownce – Kevin Rose (digg / Pownce)
Kevin Rose was up next for this last session of the day
In his talk he talked about some of the following points:

  • Saving Money
  • Making Money
  • Digg 1.0
  • Digg past, present and future.
  • Scaling
  • Chilling Effects
  • Hosting

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Live Filming of Diggnation @ FOWA London
What can I say about it – The Live Filming of Diggnation with Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht was more than awesome! :D The place was packed out with people wanting to watch the show – The Crowd went wild – And I had a front row side seat! :)

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Watch Diggnation Episode 118 London Here.

Carsonified Relaunch Party @ FOX@ExCeL
Yet more fun, a big thanks goes to both Kevin and Alex for allowing people to take photos with them! :D

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Me and Kevin Rose! :)
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Me, Kevin Bing (uni student) and Alex Albrecht
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The Future of Web Apps Conference and Expo (FOWA) – Day 2

The Future of Web Apps (FOWA) continues on Day 2… :)

Developer Stage: Welcome from Brian Oberkirch & Simon Willison, the FOWA conference chairs

The Future of Web Startups  – Paul Graham (Y Combinator)
The Future of Web Startups was presented by Paul Graham, who is the author of On Lisp (1993), ANSI Common Lisp (1995), and Hackers & Painters (2004).

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • About Startups
  • Let the market design the product
  • However many acquisitions Google does Microsoft should do x10.
  • Do we still need Silicon Valley?
  • Do Startup Founders Need Degrees?
  • Will Colleges and Universities change?

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Predicting The Future of Web Apps – Edwin Aoki (AOL)
Predicting The Future of Web Apps was presented by Edwin Aoki, Chief Architect AOL.
In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Edwin’s Near Term Industry Predictions:
    • A new industry group to develop standards for building web apps and content for low-cost, reduced capability devices
    • Aol to announce a major push for html and javascript apps on the desktop
    • new mobile computing device with a modem os and open deve platform.
  • All of the above came true 10 years ago:
    • The Network Computer Reference Platform – 1996 Sun, IBM, Apple Replace Network with Mobile
    • Netscape Crossware 0 1997 apps build on javea javascript & html
    • AT&T/EO Communicator – 1994 – touch screen, handwriting recognition, live object embed, 33.6 kbps fax and data modem
  • Technology evolves, impetus the same
  • Build on Solid, Tested Foundations:
    • Storage – AOL Xdrive, Amazon S3
    • Message & Data Exchange – XMPP, JSON & REST based APIs to Open AIM
    • Publishing & Commenting – Atom
    • Idenity – Open ID, Open Auth
  • Web apps of the future need to run everywhere.
  • Learning from our past:
    • Small & beautiful beats large and clunky
    • Sweat the details, but don’t sweat infrastructure
    • Let the service provides do the heavy lifting for you
    • Standards and openness are important
    • But employ with an eye towards security and trust
    • Technology moves faster than society
    • It’s up to us to use it responsibly
  • We won’t need a Future of Web Apps (FOWA) Anymore, instead we will have a Future of Web Stuff (FOWS) or just Future of Stuff (FOS) – 5/10 years from now!

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Web app do’s and don’ts – Practical lessons we learned – Leah Culver (Pownce)
Web app do’s and don’ts – Practical lessons we learned Predicting was the first developer session of the day, and was presented by Leah Culver who is currently best known for founding Pownce with her friends Kevin Rose and Daniel Burka as a way of sending messages, links, files and events to each other.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  •  Thinking about technology choices
  • We could pick anything – made from scratch
  • Social as well as technological reasons factored into our decisions
  • Took risks to work with newer technologies
  • Why Django?
    • Django is a Python web framework
    • Yah! Web frameworks!
    • Documentation and readability
    • Auto-generated admin
  • Why S3?
    • Amazon’s Simple Storage Service
    • Pownce files are stored on S3
    • Less maintenance for Pownce
    • Inexpensive
  • Why Air?
    • Adobe Integrated Runtime
    • Works on both PC and Mac
    • Easy to develop
    • Encourages good UI
  • Do a lot with a little
    • Pownce has a tiny team
    • One website developer
    • Self-funded
    • Short deadline
  • Small Teams – we wear many shoes
    • Multiple roles
    • Learn quickly – I have had to learn a lot about everything
    • Dedicated
  •  Open Source Tools
    • Plenty of web application help
    • Someone has solved this problem before
    • … and they’re probably smarter than me
    • Lots of tools available
  • Use your Resources
    • Get some help
    • Documentation websites
    • IRC
    • Network and learn from friends
    • Exchange knowledge with other sites
  • Be kind to your database
    • Pownce’s databse is its main bottleneck
    • One MySql database – a bit embarrassed about, not a dba
    • REsponding quickly to slow querie
  • Caching – I’ve already done that
    • Memcached
    • Caching at page and object/list level
    • Cached our static pages since launch
  • Queuing – I’ll do that later
    • Taking a shorter note of a longer process to do later
    • We send notes via a job queue
    • Need to improve our queuing system
  • Limits and Pagination – I don’t need to do all of that
    • Notes list, friends list, recipicient list
    • Good user interface as well
  • Index – I’ll mark that
    • How would I search, set up database
  • Avoid Complexity: I won’t make the db do that
    • Some queries are just to complicated for a new web app
    • Consider if they’re actually needed
    • Usually good to avoid abstract or conceptual data display
  • Expect Anything
    • Young sites can run into many problems
    • Need to respond quickly
    • Can’t prepare for everything – stuff with come out of hte blue
    • Every web app is different
  • Keep Backups – because stuff happens
    • Use version control
    • Have a system to revert to code changes
    • Tract dependencies and updates made
    • If developing locally, backup personal
  • Duly Noted – Keep lots of data
    • Stats to monitor
    • Quantitative data
  • Community – Keep in touch with your community
    • Let users know what you are doing
    • Respond to bug reports
    • Inform users of bug fixes and new features
  • Friendships Matter – Social sites are all about friends
    • Strive to make it easy to establish, maintain or break relationships
    • Accurately represent user relationships
  • Prepare to Scale UP – It’s a good problem to have
    • Don’t prematurely optimize
    • … unless you work with Kevin Rose
    • Design for success
    • Accept that your code will change 

Thanks goes to Jenifer Hanen for the gap filling – check out her post here!

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The Story Behind The Facebook Platform – Dave Morin (Facebook)
The Story Behind The Facebook Platform was the second developer session of the day, and was presented by Dave Morin who is the Senior Platform Manager at Facebook where he leads platform strategy and community

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Amount of active users on Facebook (43 Million)
  • Amount page views on Facebook (60 Billion)
  • Amount of people who have added an application – 80% of users
  • The Social Graph
  • Facebook Photos (Built in a week)
  • Facebook Events (Built in a night)
  • Developing for Facebook
  • Generating Revenue

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Preparing for Enterprise Adoption (The Future Of Blogging) – Suw Charman (suw.org.uk)
Preparing for Enterprise Adoption was the third business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by who Suw Charman, a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. Suw is also founder and board member of the Open Rights Group, a digital rights advocacy group which aims to raise awareness of digital rights issues, to campaign against bad legislation in Britain and the EU, and to support grass roots activism.

In her talk, she talked about some of the following points:

  • Getting products out
  • Getting your products bought
  • Finding out what business want from your products and services.
  • Supporting your products and services.

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*Lunch Break*
It’s Lunch Time on Day 2, so I thought id go outside down by the water to take some photos.

On the ExCeL Victoria Dock Bridge I witnessed the filming of a film/movie/soap/drama/documentary… ehhh… no idea what it was but we were not aloud to cross the bridge until they were finished and as we were approaching we were told to be quite! :P I heard one of the actors say “Dial 999″ quite loud….

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Click on this photo and Zoom in and you’ll notice they are still up there

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Putting Users First – Thomas Vander Wal (InfoCloud Solutions)
Putting Users First was the fourth business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Thomas Vander Wal, who is the The Principal and Senior Consultant at InfoCloud Solutions, Vander Wal is an information architect best known for coining the term “folksonomy.” He’s also known for initiating the term “infocloud”. His works has been with the Web and with information design and structure.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • Focusing on real people
  • Tagging
  • Folksonomy
  • Magnolia
  • Stikkit

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Next Generation Visualisations – Eric Rodenbeck (Stamen Design)
Next Generation Visualisations was the fith business/entrepreneur session of the day, and was presented by Eric Rodenbeck, Stamen’s founder and creative director. He is a 10-year veteran of the interactive design field, and has spent this time working to extend the boundaries of online media and live information visualization.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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Comet: Making the Web a 2-Way Medium – Joe Walker (DWR)
Comet: Making the Web a 2-Way Medium was the sixth developer session of the day, and was presented by Joe Walker, a developer and consultant working on advanced web development techniques like AJAX. He recently developed Direct Web Remoting, (DWR) which has become one of the most popular Ajax toolkits for Java by making browser/server interaction intuitive for web developers. See www.drectwebremoting.com. He currently works through his consultancy, Getahead (http://getahead.org/), which is supplying a growing number of customers with AJAX and advanced web solutions.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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An Insight to FireEagle – Tom Coates (Yahoo!)
An Insight to FireEagle was the seventh developer session of the day, and was presented by Tom Coates, who works for Yahoo Brickhouse where he develops new concepts in social software, future media and the web of data. He focuses on the shape of the web to come and how to make things that thrive as part of it. He’s worked for many of the UK’s most prominent web companies including Time Out, UpMyStreet and the BBC where he ran a small near-term R&D team for the BBC exploring media navigation, annotation and distribution. A regular speaker at conferences including ETech, XTech, IASummit and The Future of Web Apps, Tom also writes extensively at plasticbag.org as well as running the experimental online community barbelith.com.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

  • FireEagle (won’t be called this when released out of Beta)
  • Applications that could use FireEagle
  • Twitter Maps

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Air – Next Generation Development – Ben Forsaith (Adobe)
Air – Next Generation Development was the eighth developer session of the day, and was presented by Ben Forsaith, product specialist with Adobe UK.

In his talk, he talked about some of the following points:

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Best Tips & Screw Ups – Panel of FOWA speakers
This last session of the day was a discussion talk between Ryan Carson, Kevin Lawver, Lane Becker, Rashmi , Dick , Ted Rheingold, Simon Willison and Brian Oberkirch.

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Check out all My Photos on My Flick Set!

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