Jordan Brock

Back from the Edge

Last week, I was lucky enough to be involved with the 2009 Edge of the Web conference, which was organised by AWIA and Red Horizon Events here in Perth. We had speakers from around the world, around Australia and from Perth, who all gave great talks to an eager and attentive audience.

My role at the conference was basically to be the room monitor for the main auditorium, which meant that I only really got to see those speaking in that room. As a result, I didn’t really get to see all that I wanted to see, but I can’t complain in the slightest, because there were some fantastic presentations. And I got to see them for free. Which was nice.

So, here’s a brief run-down of who I saw, and what I remember. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take notes, so some of this is going to be hazy.

Anil Dash (@anildash)

For a few days it looked as though Anil wasn’t going to be able to make it to Perth at all. Some last minute flight shuffling, and some program jiggling saw our opening and closing keynotes swapping. This meant that Anil would be able to come, and I’m fairly sure everyone was glad that he did. It was the perfect opening for the conference: an inspirational call to arms, urging us to embrace the open web and build the apps and sites that people will be talking about. Perth can be isolated, both mentally and physically, and it was great to hear someone talk about breaking the myth of Silicon Valley.

Just a quick time out to thank Anil for his superhuman efforts in coming to speak. He ended up only being in Perth for about 35 hours, and spent 45 hours travelling to do that. I can’t imagine how he felt at the end of the trip. Thanks heaps Anil.

Lachlan Hardy (@lachlanhardy)

Having received the perfect lead in from Anil, Lachlan spoke in depth about the open web, the technologies available and the ethos behind keeping information free from copyright and the patent-lock. A great talk that hopefully encouraged attendees to challenge themselves to use open technologies.

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Dmitry Baranovskiy (@DmitryBaranovsk)

Always entertaining, Dmitry has the knack of making a detailed and technical journey into the world of JavaScript highly entertaining. Quote of the day: “The public scope in JavaScript is like a public toilet. You don’t know who’s done what in there, but if you have to use it, touch it as little as possible”

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Nick Cowie (@nickobec)

Local web legend Nick Cowie gave an informative talk on some of the upcoming features of CSS3, and how well they are supported in local browsers. He had a surprising example of some features that are supported by even the venerable IE6. One for the code monkeys.

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Alex Payne (@al3x)

Alex gave the opening keynote on day 2, and it was a great start to the day (ok, the coffee was the real start to the day). He spoke about how the languages and tools that we use shape the way that we approach our work. Watching Alex’s talk, I was reminded of his tweet from when he was researching the talk:

bq. “Researching tech history is a good reminder not to get too worked up about the tech of today. It mostly looks ridiculous in ten years.” -

While we all love a good language fight every now and then, seeing a laundry list of forgotten languages, specs and companies certainly showed that it’s not worth getting too worked up over.

Quote of the day: “Throw the wallaby over the bush fire.”

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Kevin Yank (@sentience)

Being entirely in love with HAML and SASS I had only paid the slightest of attention towards CSS frameworks. Kevin gave a good run through of what they are, when they’re a good idea, and how they work. I suppose it made an impact, because I actually started using aspects of the 960 Grid on a project at work.

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Ash Donaldson (@ashdonaldson)

Unfortunately, I only got to catch the last part of Ash’s talk, so I can’t really say a great deal about it, except that he has introduced me to an insanely addictive iPhone game: Doodle Jump

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Malcolm Day

After two days of talking about the benefits of various development methodologies and discussions on W3C standards and the like, it was refreshing to hear a talk about money, and to earn it. Malcolm, CEO of Adult Shop (NSFW!), gave an entertaining (and potentially libellous) talk on his journey from being an engineer for a mining exploration company to the CEO of a publicly traded ecommerce company.

Derek Powazek (@fraying)

Wow, what a close! Derek was an exceptional presenter, taking us through the types of “crazy” that we encounter while building communities on the web, and how to deal with each of those crazies. Highly entertaining and hilarious, it was a brilliant end to the conference.

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I’d like to thank everyone involved in the conference, particularly the AWIA events committee (Myles, Miles, Kay and Helen) for their tireless efforts in putting on a wonderful show. I’d also like to give props to our international speakers, for taking time out of their lives to travel to the other side of the world to give a little something to the Australian Web community.