Life Talks

My first reactions to The Future of Web Apps…

Wow. Yesterday’s Future of Web Apps summit was completely intense. I’d been worrying about talking for about a month, and puzzling away at what I wanted to say for even longer, which is pretty much why my site has been so quiet lately. But in the end it all came off – I got a lot of nice comments from people, and I’m pretty happy with its substance. I was so full of adrenalin by the end of the day that I was on a high for hours, and today I’ve experienced a weird kind of exhausted come-down. But it was worth it. I had a really good day.

The idea for the talk I gave (“Native to a Web of Data”) originated in conversations with Rael Dornfest after our work on the BBC PIPs project. He wanted me to write some kind of ‘User Interface Guidelines for Web 2.0″ talk for the Web 2.0 conference to focus on identifiers, addressability, ajax and the like – all the stuff that had come up in conversations and work that Matt Biddulph, Margaret Hanley, Gavin Bell and I had done together. But then I’d got stuck thinking around the area and couldn’t find an angle to attack it from, and I’d left it on the backburner. It was months later that Ryan asked if I’d like to talk at the summit, and I decided to take another stab at it, and I think it came out pretty well. I got a lot of positive comments from people at the event saying that it had crystallised a lot of the stuff that they’d already known but had trouble articulating. In retrospect, I think maybe all I did was write something that should give clued-up developers the argumentative support to convince people to let them do their jobs properly. But I’m pretty much happy with that.

The rest of the day was pretty awesome – the venue was extraordinary, and I really enjoyed seeing Cal and Joshua, and hearing what they were up to. I was also really really impressed by Ryan Carson’s piece on the financial sides of doing a small start-up. That pretty much rocked, and had really lovely typography. David Heinemeier Hanson’s piece on Ruby on Rails seemed pretty impressive too, and many people I rate are really keen on it as a framework (again Matt Biddulph). So that was good.

Even better for me was bumping into all kinds of neat people from around the industry who I don’t get to see enough of – people like Jamie Tetlow, Duncan Ponting, Matt Patterson, Paul Hammond, Becky Ford and all the BBC crew from R&Mi, Rod McLaren, Meg Pickard, some of the London Yahoos who I’ve got to know a bit and – a particular surprise – Ms. Jen who I haven’t seen since she generously offered to give me a lift from Los Angeles to San Francisco a few years ago. She’s in town at the moment, so everyone say hi. There were about a billion other cool people around, and all I can say is, don’t be a strange, chuck me an e-mail!

Anyay, I’m probably going to be putting up the slides on my site in the next day or so, but at the moment they’re all Keynote only and they look a bit rubbish in Powerpoint and stuff, so I should probably neaten them up a bit. In the meantime, I should probably again thank Simon Willison, Biddulph and Andy for their help along the way. I hope everyone’s well – and thanks again everyone for the kind words.

Net Culture Talks

On the upcoming Carson Workshops summit…

Quick announcement – I’m going to be talking at the upcoing Carson Workshops summit on The Future of Web Apps on the 8th of February in London. It’s a one-day conference for developers and web application builders that’s going to be focusing in on some of the technologies and ideas that are foundational to the web that is to come. It’s got a pretty stellar group of people speaking – Joshua Schachter of will be talking about tags and how useful and important they are, David Heinemeier Hansson will be talking about Ruby on Rails, Douwe Osinga will be talking about Google Labs, Eric Costello will be talking about Ajax and developing for Flickr, Steve Olechowski will be talking about Feedburner, Shaun Inman will be talking about Mint and APIs and Ryan Carson will be talking about Web 2.0 business models and dropsend.

I’m down to talk about UI, but I’ll be talking about design in its widest possible sense – drawing together a lot of the thoughts that I’ve been having while working at the BBC and at Yahoo! on what the future of the web will be like, what ideas will flourish in that environment, on site structures and navigational ideas that work as part of a wider web of data, about identifiers, addressability, modularisation and data structures as well as various other thoughts about how to build for iterative design processes. If it sounds unformed at the moment it’s because I’m really working around the territory to start drawing a few years of stuff together into a coherent picture, some of which I’ll be writing up before the event itself.

If any of that sounds interesting, then there are still some seats available – but not that many. So if you’re interested in coming and having your brain blown off, then get your act together and sign up today. And if there’s any thoughts you’d like to share with me about this future and what UI means when not all the users are human, then please feel free to stick your oar in below or send me e-mails to tom {at} the name of this website, as ever…