Jordan Brock

Web Directions South 08

So, thanks to the fine people at 5 Senses Coffee, I trundled over to Sydney for Web Directions South 08.

h3. Thursday, 25th September 2008

h4. Opening Keynote – Lynne Johnson

p. Boo. So mismatched to the audience it wasn’t amusing in the slightest. If we were a bunch of magazine publishers from 2003, then it might have been interesting, but we weren’t, and so it wasn’t.

h4. Derek Featherstone

p. Nubbins. Yay!!

p. I’ll just pretend that the opening keynote didn’t happen, and that this was the start. It’s always good to see someone who A) has command of their field and B) is a great presenter. Totally comfortable on stage, and thoroughly knowledgeable about his topic, which he managed to make seem almost exciting, which is pretty hard for what is essentially a dry topic.

h4. iPhone Development

p. Tim Lucas and Pete Ottery worked on the iPhone Site and did a good presentation on some of their experiences. Perhaps because I had already started on the iPhone site for 5 Senses and I had already encountered most of those problems, I didn’t really come away with much. But that’s cool, because it was an intro level talk, not for an iPhone Dev Conference or anything.

h4. JavaScript Libraries/Frameworks

p. Yeah, good times, much laughter, fun, and frivolity, and then when Cameron rolled out the Drum Machine – FUCKING BRILLIANT.

p. I’m not sure if I actually learned anything, except that just about everyone is using jQuery, and those of us still on Prototype are mocked mercilessly.

h4. August de la Rejos

p. Hmmm, ok, but hold the ads.

p. An interesting talk about the progress of user interaction with computers, as well as the psychology behind it, that had some wonderful videos outlining potential future developments, but was undermined by the fact that they were MicroSoft corporate videos. Oh well.

h4. WebJam8

p. Bucketloads of awesome, mixed in with tasty beverages, fine companies that sponsored the tasty beverages, fine talks, and conversation. Mad times. Cannot wait until WebJam 9 as part of Edge of the Web

h3. Friday, 26th September 2008

h4. Jeffrey Veen

p. Hot. Wired.

p. Awesome talk about visualising data, and what good design can achieve. Memorable, and featuring the entirely wonderful Gapminder World

h4. Gina Bolton

p. No. Not good. I don’t know if Gina has a ninja like mastery of CSS (I’m guessing she does since she consults/designs for companies like Apple and has written a book), but statements like “from what I’ve heard when talking to developers, computers start counting at 0” doesn’t make code-monkey happy.

p. A thorough understanding of your topic, and avoiding statements like “I haven’t checked the blogs for a month or so, so I don’t know if the ”caps">CSS3 Working Recommendation has been ratified or not." Seriously!

h4. Michael™ Smith

p. Not too bad. Bit of a laundry list. Of course, any recitation of the trials and tribulations of HTML 5 isn’t really going to be anything but dry. Still, good to hear for the most part. However, the take away from this, Gina’s and Douglas Crockford’s talk is that it’s been 10 years since any successful revision to HTML, CSS or ECMAScript, which just instills wonderful amounts of trust and faith in committees.

p. And really? Michael™ What is this – Burning Man?

h4. Myles Eftos.

p. Huzzah! The madpilot flew like a crazy bastard over the top of the dangerous territories of OpenID and OAuth. And if that isn’t enough, he launched incursions into HTTP 1.1 as well as REST and SOAP. Lucky for all he came back unharmed.

h4. Douglas Crockford

p. Good. Real code. Real ideas.

p. And scary. (We are so totally screwed if even half of what he was saying comes to fruition.)

h4. Mark Pesce

p. Oversold. A fishing basket full of “ok, but meh”. One of the apparent pitfalls of giving what, from all accounts, was an amazing presentation at WDS07 that inspired everyone who went, is that the next year expectations are particularly high. When those expectations aren’t met (probably through no fault of Marks) it leaves people underwhelmed. I didn’t necessarily agree with the central theme of the presentation (that twitter and the like are going to transform society and its’ institutions), so that didn’t help.

p. One thing I will say is that if you need to make a point that you aren’t going to do next year’s closing keynote, you probably shouldn’t be doing this years.

p. A slight down to end on.

h4. DRINKS!!!!!

p. Wheee! All that needs to be said can be summed up in these two tweets that I, um, twitted.

p. Salad is what food eats
09:19 PM September 26, 2008 from twitterrific

p. Has teh drunk on. Hi meat lady!
12:18 AM September 27, 2008 from twitterrific

h4. Would I go again?

p. Totally. As we are no doubt about to find out, running a conference is a tricky thing. Getting a mix of the right speakers, hoping they are all in top form, and cultivating the vibe is no doubt a difficult thing. I had a great time in Sydney: I met some great people, learned lots, felt inadequate (I mean, you’re talking to Douglas Crockford over a beer … what do you say?), and saw a Europe video on a large screen.