Do more, be better

Webstock 2011

by James on 1 March 2011, filed under Down the Road

The week before last Jessica and I took a few days off from development and headed a long way down the road to Wellington for New Zealand’s seminal, annual event for all things web related – Webstock!

This was my first Webstock and I got the chance to take a step back from my code and see what our industry is getting up to and what techniques are available to help us get to where we want to be.  There were inspiring entrepreneurial talks from Marco Arment on how to bootstrap, build a product and keep a hold of it and Jason Cohen on how to take advice, to trust your gut and that industry standards are not the only way. I saw some great talks by designers trying to warm up the content on the web, deliver delight to users by exceeding expectations and make beautiful visualizations from abstract numbers and huge data sets.

I took a huge amount away from Steve Souder’s aptly timed talk on website performance optimization which is very relevant to my current interests as I try to maintain high performance while managing hundreds of complex DOM nodes. There was plenty of HTML 5 talk going around and one of the common themes I picked up was the  maturity we’ve reached on the web.  The technology will keep changing and specifications will always be behind but we have the tools now to build solid cross platform accessible applications, and we shouldn’t aim for anything less.

I thought there was another common theme circulating, encouraging everyone to look at what they are doing day to day and if they don’t like to get out and start something new.  Merlin Mann let us know that we are all going to be scared doing it and Michael Lopp gave us the people mix, “The Engineer, the Designer and the Dictator” (we’re way off but we’re making our own rules like Jason told us to) – and Michael Koziarski told us that Skunk Works are the way forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the people there will now be thinking about bootstrapping a side project.

We are already well on our way down this road so I didn’t need to ponder resigning on my return home, and was able to sit back and immerse myself in all talks.

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