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Future of Web Apps — Miami 2009

Last weekend, Orian and I flew down to Miami for BarCampMiami and Carsonified‘s Future of Web Apps (FOWA). Unfortunately I caught a cold and we missed most of BarCamp, but at least we made it to Fraser Kelton‘s presentation on AdaptiveBlue‘s Glue — a browser add-on that lets you see what your friends think about stuff all over the web [I plan to write an in-depth review of Glue soon].

The Future of Web Apps took place on Monday, February 23 (workshops) and Tuesday, February 24 (conference). We only attended the second day, a one-track lineup of some of the biggest names in the business. Celebrity certainly draws a crowd, but I have to admit that the whole day was pretty underwhelming and uninspiring. It seems the only session that actually dealt with the future of web apps — “How to create powerful web app user interfaces using Objective-J and Cappuccino” from 280 North — was the one we missed when we got caught up in a hallway conversation with Fraser, Alex Iskold (founder of AdaptiveBlue), and Alex Hillman (a.k.a. @alexknowshtml). While the conversation was great, it was a bummer that we missed one of the few, if not the only, insights into what’s next.

The lineup was as follows:

  • Getting Real 2.0 – Jason Fried, 37 Signals
  • What is the Future of the Browser – Dion Almaer and Ben Falbraith, Mozilla
  • Open Strategy :: Applied – Dan Theurer, Yahoo
  • Scaling your tech team – Joe Stump, Digg
  • Outisde the interface: more words to worry about – Kristina Halvorson, Brain Traffic
  • Order from Chaos – Future of the Web – Aza Raskin, Mozilla
  • Facebook Connect – Dave Morin, Facebook
  • How to achieve tech team nirvana – Joel Spolsky, Fog Creek
  • Brand 2.0 – Alex Hunter, Virgin
  • How to create powerful web app user interfaces using Objective-J and Cappuccino – Francisco Tolmasly, 280 North
  • Ryan Carson interviews Joel Spolsky and Jason Fried
  • A typical rant – Gary Vaynerchuk, Wine Library TV

Naturally, I did my best to capture it all on Twitter. My wi-fi connection was spotty, so there are more holes here than I’d like, but you’ll get the idea. Overall, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed, and would have greatly preferred to see a series of truly innovative web apps by startups and corporations around the world that are actually changing the game, not just a bunch of product pitches and trite advice from the usual suspects. Maybe I’m too immersed in the conference circuit and I’ve just heard it all before. I hope that’s the case, and that the other 300 or so attendees really got something of value out of it.

My Twitter notes are below:

  • About to head into the Adrienne Arsht Center for #FOWA Miami
  • I’m Twittering from the Future of Web Apps in Miami http://events.carsonified.com/fowa/2009/miami
  • If you don’t want to follow my #fowa tweets, feel free to unfollow. Follow @whitneyhesslive to find out when I’m done so you can re-follow

Getting Real 2.0 – Jason Fried, 37 Signals

  • Jason Fried of @37signals is on the stage. He was going to give his “Getting Real” talk, but decided instead to do something new
  • He’s talking about products that are organically built on the byproducts of what we do every day. Getting Real generated $1mil last yr
  • Jason Fried: @garyvee just owned a wine shop, and was doing all this other stuff to support it. But that other stuff rocketed him
  • Famous chefs a great example of this. They don’t just cook food. They have books, TV shows, kitchenware, etc. They share themselves
  • “The best thing to do is share the information” Think about your byproducts, don’t be afraid of your competitor learning your secrets
  • “Free is the wrong direction for this industry” — Jason Fried. “Free is not the future of business; it’s the future of failure”
  • Charging for something doesn’t mean you’re going to survive, but it’s a lot easier for services who don’t charge to die
  • Pownce bought by SixApart, I Want Sandy bought by Twitter. Lots of users left with no service.
  • Even Google has decided that certain things aren’t worth giving away for free.
  • “Somehow failure became cool.” — @jasonfried Wouldn’t tell a farmer to fail early & fail often. Why do we think it’s ok in software?
  • Look for your byproducts. Don’t focus on failure. Pay attention to successes. Start charging for your products — @jasonfried
  • Most @37signals users on paying plans starting on paying plans. “Free converts, but pay converts better.” — @jasonfried
  • Don’t focus on the competition. We’re in a world where 100 companies doing the same thing can be very successful — @jasonfried
  • People are going to start trusting free services less and less. Users want to know that the company has a vested interest in surviving

What is the Future of the Browser – Dion Almaer and Ben Falbraith, Mozilla

  • Up now: Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith of Mozilla on “What is the future of the browser?”
  • Ben Galbraith & @dalmaer showing old Netscape browser. Audience chuckles. They’re saying that browsers are actually getting simpler
  • @jjg gets a shout out for coining the term “AJAX”– Web has come a long way since the invention of AJAX. Expectations are much greater
  • We all thought Mapquest was cool until we used Google Maps. Once something better comes along, your expectations are changed forever
  • All that browsers really give us are text, rectangles and graphics. But lots of technologies have been built on top to do so much more
  • The Mozilla guys are talking about Canvas — games, image manipulation in the browser. In Chrome, Firefox, Opera, but not IE
  • Fast JavaScript totally changes what you can do in your web app. “It can power really expensive algorithms in the browser”
  • Ben Galbraith showing a video of internet latency. “This is something we need to guard against”
  • Twitter timeout for geeky stuff I don’t understand
  • @orian next to me getting turned on by talk of the Palm Pre
  • Mozilla Labs working on Bespin, v1 launched last week. High-performance code-editing environ in browser https://bespin.mozilla.com/
  • Delicious Library http://delicious-monster.com/ lets you scan your books into your comp using iSight camera
  • Mozilla guys just showed photo of Jared Leto looking hot, and another looking fat. “Different interface, same implementation”
  • If you don’t want to follow my #fowa tweets, feel free to unfollow. Follow @whitneyhesslive to find out when I’m done so you can re-follow

Open Strategy :: Applied – Dan Theurer, Yahoo

  • Dan Theurer @dantheurer of Yahoo! on the stage now talking about openness. Unfortunately his slides are corrupt so he’s winging it
  • Carsonified is building a new web app called Truvay http://truvay.com Top secret, Ryan won’t tell us what it does. Silly

Scaling your tech team – Joe Stump, Digg

  • Joe Stump @joestump, Digg’s lead architect, is up now talking about “Scaling your tech team”
  • @joestump saying that all developers are stubborn, lazy, whiners :-P
  • Developers are eccentric. @Joestump telling story about dev who required shower installed in his office – does his best thinking there
  • How to scale your dev team: Lower barriers. Recognize that Jedis are rare, & you need to keep them focused on their core competencies
  • Digg has four dev teams. They use Basecamp to collaborate, Track to track bugs. They’re semi-Agile and have daily scrum

Outisde the interface: more words to worry about – Kristina Halvorson, Brain Traffic

  • @kristinahalvorson taking time out of her presentation to discuss why there are so few women on the speaker circuit
  • @orian gave me his computer so that I could tweet this, my wifi is all f’ed up
  • @halvorson asked Ryan Carson @ryancarson & Chris Messina @factoryjoe to sit on the stage w her to talk about the lackof women speakers
  • I don’t think that the lack of women speakers is the conf organizers fault. I think it’s the women’s fault. Put yourself out there!
  • @ryancarson asking people to send him ideas for great women speakers tagged with #fowaspeak
  • @factoryjoe: we need more diversity throughout. Been an issue for BarCamp as well. Friends need to encourage each other to contribute
  • Thanks to @orian for being so selfless. I’m out

Order from Chaos – Future of the Web – Aza Raskin, Mozilla

  • Rule #1 for running a conference: make sure speakers can show the slides they spent weeks working on
  • Aza Raskin of Mozilla is on the stage talking about “chaordic” nature of open source
  • Aza proving that it’s very difficult for us to talk about people without personalizing them — so why do computers dehumanize us?
  • @azaaza says we need to stop thinking of things as technical problems and start thinking about them as people problems
  • “IM is people with the web tacked on. The browser is the web with people tacked on.” — @azaaza
  • Since the presentation is broken at FOWA, @azaaza isn’t able to demo Ubiquity. Check it out here: http://is.gd/1Wns
  • The concept of Ubiquity: web content is disconnected, and *you* have to go to it. Instead what if everything came to you?

Facebook Connect – Dave Morin, Facebook

  • Dave Morin @davemorrin from Facebook is up now.
  • @davemorrin talking about Facebook connect. “Web isn’t about information anymore, it’s about people.” Wasn’t it always?
  • Facebook Connect is the first step in enabling everyone on the web to break down walls between applications and around Facebook
  • Facebook Connect: identity, friends and feed
  • Why is a Facebook Connect pitch part of the *Future* of Web Apps? Facebook Connect is in the present. What’s next?

How to achieve tech team nirvana – Joel Spolsky, Fog Creek

  • Joel Spolsky @spolsky is now on stage talking about “How to achieve team nirvana” http://www.joelonsoftware.com/
  • @spolsky just showed this hilarious Best Buy image making fun of Circuit City: http://is.gd/kI7R
  • “Stop making social networks. They’ve all been made. There’s only going to be one micro-blogging platform: Twitter” — @spolsky
  • @spolsky is showing off his very cool Fog Creek offices http://fogcreek.com with private offices for developers to concentrate
  • @spolsky showing pic of the Mahalo office, all open desks. “If you ever happen to get in the zone, you’ll quickly be taken out of it”
  • Mahalo offices: http://is.gd/kIfV
  • At Fog Creek, meetings are always scheduled for right after lunch. Lots of snacks in the office. Showers. Flowers in the bathroom.
  • @spolsky justifying his $849 Aeron chairs for each developer by showing that they’re only $1.63 per dev per week cuz they last 10 yrs
  • Breaking bread together every day is critical for team dynamic. Daily team meal keeps them all motivated, connected — @spolsky
  • Sucks that #FOWA Miami website has already been taken down. I was using the schedule to tweet. @RyanCarson are you aware of the problem?

Dave McClure, surprise guest

Brand 2.0 – Alex Hunter, Virgin

  • Alex Hunter @cubedweller from Virgin is now on the stage talking about “Brand 2.0″
  • @cubedweller asks the audience: “How are you going to get us [consumers] to love you [brand]?”
  • @cubedweller just showed the “JUMP! You Fuckers” sign outside the NYSE http://is.gd/kIuJ
  • @cubedweller says about our generation: “We’ve all been fitted with bullshit detectors.” We know when we’re being marketed to
  • @cubedweller is demo’ing new Virgin.com feature to the public for the very first time. It’s essentially a community reputation system
  • @cubedweller just gave a huge shout out to http://rokkan.com, the agency who helped develop this upgrade to Virgin.com

Ryan Carson interviews Joel Spolsky and Jason Fried

  • @spolsky & @jasonfried on the stage w @ryancarson, but I’m not finding the Qs particularly probing. Wish I could interview these guys
  • Really disappointed that there weren’t any user experience practitioners on the presenter lineup at FOWA today. We cannot be ignored!

Aza Raskin back to demo Ubiquity

Gary Vaynerchuk, Wine Library TV

  • “Most people in business are thin-skinned, have no passion for what they do and are in it for the money” — @garyvee. Dead on
  • @garyvee says that the sucky people are going to lose jobs and people with real skills are going to flourish = “market correction”
  • “Go back to your hotel room, look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Why am I at this company that sucks straight shit?’” — @garyvee
  • “If you don’t know where you want to end up, you’re broken.” — @garyvee
  • @garyvee says he needs to hustle more. He’s doing too many speaking gigs and videos, and neglecting other projects
  • “Everyone needs to stop crying, stop worrying, and [do something].” Stop talking about failure. Who’s the judge?
  • That’s all folks. I’m done live-Twittering from the Future of Web Apps in Miami. Thanks for listening!

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