Future of Web Apps?

I went to the Future of Web Apps conference today in London http://www.futureofwebapps.com – It was an interesting day but as with many of these things I sometimes wonder if I couldn’t have got much of this by just researching on the web, it’s good to talk to the people involved though as I always like to hear the “what not to do’s” which are sometimes more important and something that people don’t like to admit to unless you’re talking to them in person.

The speakers I enjoyed were Heather Champ founder of JPG and Community Manager as Filckr. She did a duet with Derek Powazek of JPG and they had a good talk about what builds communities (or drives them away) with some common sense advice including the fact that ranking can be a big negative as it engenders a “gaming” to the community where they start to compete and also even those in the listing with high rankings tend to feed off the fact that there are others above them so it generally a no-no except in special cases. I discovered this myself when we started a top ten ranking of things in our Knowledge Network (a system we developed for Knowledge Sharing at the OU) – we discovered that if we ranked it top to bottom people always clicked on the top one always enforcing it’s status as the top, therefore the list becomes self perpetuating. We decided instead to gather the popular sites and then randomly display these in random order on the front page to show a variety of popular sites but which was fresh and different. …Anyway they had much more to say and I recommend their talk.

 The other speaker I enjoyed was Matt Mullenweg the funding developer of WordPress (and I’m not just saying that cos I use it!) – He looks about 12 and his powerpoint presentation is not special but what he says is real and his advice is sound in my opinion.

In general the speakers were all good although some a bit to techie for me (the Dojo, Ajax and Google Gears stuff was great but I nearly lost the thread (multi threading in javascript by the way – cool) a couple of times when he displayed a few code pages. Some was a bit too commercial, all about ‘monetizing the web’ but largely good.

The things that disappointed me were that I was bombarded with a hundred different ‘sponsors’ or mini site vendors Blurb, widr, yuuguu, wakcopa, pluck, baagz, zend, etc. so why the stupid names guys?!? – It was a bit overwhelming, I’m just about getting my head around Facebook and MySpace and now I’ve got aobut 50 more to explore (if I get the energy!). They weren’t disappointing in themselves, it’s more that I know that nine out of ten of them will be gone in a year or taken over by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.

Second thing to disappoint me was that the presentations were largely ‘death by powerpoint’ – These so called designers and web app develoeprs actually put togehter pretty ropey presentations, I’ve seen my colleagues give much better ones and I was surprised that more presenters didn’t rely on a more off the cuff approach and a creative talk that was more dynamic, but then again I probably wouldn’t do that myself if I was speaking to several hundred peers!

Those things aside the conference is good and Im looking forward to tomorrow once I recharge my batteries. I do think that as one speaker said ‘even in the virtual world people like to end up with an artefact, something real and so it’s worthwhile thinking about how you can give them that’. I think the conference gives us that – it’s the reality around all the virtual.

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About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

3 Responses to Future of Web Apps?

  1. Pingback: e4innovation.com » Blog Archive » Reality around the virtual…

  2. Pingback: My failing memory and moving outside « Weblog of Will Woods

  3. Pingback: Future of Web Apps 2008 « Weblog of Will Woods

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