2006
02.09

Here I am, yawning at work, after yesterday’s excellent Future of Web Apps summit presented by Carson Workshops. Been looking forward to it for months and it didn’t disappoint, despite me being a 5:30 am-10:30pm commuter for a day.

The aim was to try and ’spread Web 2.0 out of Silicon Valley’ and get the UK Web 2.0 scene moving. In this, they succeeded – still trying to get my head round how they managed to bring to the UK the sort of ‘conference buzz’ you see on the net – the crucial focal points and signposts of the evolving Web that usually seem a distant Silicon Valley mirage. This was first-order information from the people actually building the future web. Thank you guys, very well done!

At first I was going to bung up a summary of each speaker, but I made an ‘agile decision’ not to as they are putting up MP3s & slides of the whole event for free. Very good thing to do.

Quote: Overheard delegates in the break (stunned after just the first presentation); “What should we do?” “Er… hang on… let’s have a cup of tea.” You could tell this was London and not California.

Some general observations:

  • David Heinemeier Hansson (the guy behind Ruby on Rails) was amazing – and he faced some stiff competition, especially from Ryan Carson himself who bared his metaphysical soul over just how DropSend got put together. I was expecting something like the evangelising videos online, but this was a ‘from first principles’ soft sell of how to increase productivity, leading inexorably to why Rails was developed the way it was (reduce ‘low-information’ unbeautiful code to improve quality; enforce ways of stopping the ‘lazy practices’ devil whispering in your ear, etc.). He showed a bit of code, but glossed over increasingly large bits of it as it would, rightly, switch the audience off. He could teach salesmen (and quite a few academics!) a thing or two; you began to appreciate this particular framework started by this particular individual is catching fire instead of others. I must find out about decent Rails hosting in the UK…
  • The venue had rows of interlocked chairs, so getting in and out required clambering over them (and of course they were about an inch too high to do so gracefully). I’m still recovering from shingles, so this got more and more painful as the day wore on, ending up with half-lying on the floor hidden in the upstairs balcony.
  • A couple guys played, yes,Buzzword Bingo on their laptop throughout the day. Didn’t hear anyone shout ‘House’ though. One guy near me was coding instead of paying attention in one talk – guess I don’t go to enough summits.
  • Lunch involved the slowest fast food I’ve ever had – the summit was apparently done on a budget :) & so waited with a bunch of other summit goers in Cafe Nero for half an hour whilst three staff were working flat out, but unable to just bung a few paninis in a warmer & till up ten people’s lunch. A weird optical illusion of intense activity but non-productivity (insert Rails in-joke here).

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