Webstock - 16-20 February 2009, Wellington, New Zealand

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Presentations

Here's the full Webstock programme. Where a speaker hasn't confirmed their presentation, we've interpreted what they will present on based on our extensive correspondence with them.

Jane McGonigal

Gaming Reality

Jane McGonigal
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 9.05am - 9.45am

 

Why doesn't the real world work more like a game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is perfectly optimized: we have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential allies, we get constant useful feedback, and we feel an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. That's no accident -- game developers have spent three decades figuring out how to make us happier, drive more collaboration, and satisfy our hunger for meaning and success. Isn't it about time we started applying these insights to everything we do online? In this talk, game designer Jane McGonigal explains how to adopt game developer methods and mechanics to transform any networked community, service, experience or environment -- in order to re-invent the real world as we know it. At the end of the talk, you'll be launched in a 48-hour online game to help you imagine the possibilities of re-inventing one of the most important environments in our networked future: Space.

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Nat Torkington

Better, Stronger, Faster Failures

Nat Torkington
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 9.50am - 10.30am

 

In only forty minutes you will learn to fail and to love it. Join a master of failure on a whirlwind tour of science, computing, and business failures, and discover the secret weapon that is the strategic failure.

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Derek Powazek

The Wisdom of Communities

Derek Powazek
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 11.00am - 11.40am

 

The Wisdom of Crowds is an economic principle (Google "James Surowiecki") that proves groups can be wise when acting in concert. So why are the comments on your site so stupid?

In this talk, Derek will explore how this principle can be applied to online communities to make us all more wise (or at least less dumb).

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Meg Pickard

Content, Communities & Collaboration

Meg Pickard
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

Exploring some of the technologies and techniques of participation, curation and distributed publishing, and setting out a framework for media organisations needing to create and maintain editorial propositions and products which are truly OF the web, not just ON it.

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Matt Biddulph

Made of messages

Matt Biddulph
Thursday 19th Feb | Illot Theatre | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

The A in AJAX stands for Asynchronous. But asynchronous is not just for the clientside. Any non-trivial webserver can benefit from being able to do two things at once in the service of the user. Find out how to perform reliable background processing, reduce page render latency and scale your application's load over a cluster of servers using message queues. This talk will be illustrated with real examples from dopplr.com, but will be generally applicable to any web developer.

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Fiona Romeo

Astrotagging bots and citizen scientists

Fiona Romeo
Thursday 19th Feb | Civic suite | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

The Royal Observatory is one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world; home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian line. This talk will outline how digital media and the availability of huge quantities of data are creating new opportunities for the public's participation in astronomy. In particular, Fiona will talk about the Royal Observatory's mobile guide to the night sky, Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, and a new programme of citizen science.

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David Recordon

Open, Social Web

David Recordon
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

The greatest social network that there ever was is the web itself.

But how do you take advantage of that? How do you make it easier for people to join your site, bring their friends and profiles with them, to quickly get to the meat of your service? How can you better leverage existing technologies to facilitate the creation of new accounts, lower costs, increase engagement and get back to focusing on your core service? This talk is designed to be an overview of the "Open Stack" for developers and technical managers tasked with building services for the social web, with an emphasis on the use and application of free, open building blocks for enabling social networking features on your site or service.

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Cameron Adams

Programmers are the new creatives

Cameron Adams
Thursday 19th Feb | Illot theatre | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

Programming has long been the domain of logic and order, but with the ubiquity of programming languages in our lives and the growth in tools to help you code, there has come a newfound ability for self-expression and creativity through code.

Cameron will be exploring the creative aspects of coding and how it relates to design and art. With a focus on visual and interactive design, Cameron will look at the many ways in which you can stay creative with code of all sorts JavaScript, Processing (Java), HTML, CSS, ActionScript, even BASIC and put the fun back into the technologies you work with everyday.

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Pamela Fox

Client Killed the Server Star: The new client/server model

Pamela Fox
Thursday 19th Feb | Civic suite | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

Most modern websites still place a large burden on the server, constantly sending it requests and asking it to do heavy computations. In the brave new world, the client is king and the server is its faithful shadow. In this talk, we'll look at how cutting-edge technology like Gears, HTML5, and Google App Engine can be used to create websites where the caching, storage, and computing is done primarily in the browser/desktop and the server is used merely as a backup store.

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Adrian Holovaty

A mashup case study: EveryBlock.com

Adrian Holovaty
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 2.05pm - 2.50pm

 

Adrian takes you behind the scenes of his site EveryBlock.com, an experiment in microlocal news. Along the way, he'll talk about open government data, mashup best practices and the philosophy of journalism via computer programming.

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Heather Champ

Shepherding Passionate Communities

Heather Champ
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 2.55pm - 3.35pm

 

Heather Champ played a large role in the success of the photo-sharing website, Flickr. Heather oversees member activity for the community of over 30 million members. It's pretty safe to say that she's seen everything that can be done, good or bad, in an online community. Come hear about Heather's experience and get advice for building your own community websites, large or small.

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Michael Lopp

Being Geek

Michael Lopp
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 4.05pm - 4.45pm

 

Sprinkled amongst both Generation X and Generation Y is a curious, new population. The Nerd. The Geek. A group which has spent the last two decades moving amongst the dark technological fringe is now a mainstream demographic.

In this presentation, I will explore the traits of the geek. How is that we're able to rampantly consume information? How many people do we really know? Why is it that we must solve puzzles? How is it that we're so good at context switching, but so bad at relating to people? And is all this nerdery going to help or hinder my career?

It's going to help.

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Ze Frank

The explicit

Ze Frank
Thursday 19th Feb | Main auditorium | 4.50pm - 5.30pm

 

From the value of contribution to the challenges of feeling a virtual audience, Ze will share notes, practical advice and war stories.

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Russell Brown

Content: Who's Doin' It Right?

Russell Brown
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 9.05am - 9.45am

 

Russell Brown surveys the offerings of publishers large and small, looks at the trends (is this the year that TV really arrives on the internet?) and asks where the money is.

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Derek Featherstone

Madame Butterfly

Derek Featherstone
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 9.50am - 10.30am

 

Derek will perform a showstopper from Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

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Annalee Newitz

Your Business Plan Is Science Fiction And That's a Good Thing

Annalee Newitz
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 11.00am - 11.40am

 

Just two decades ago, the Web and public internet were the stuff of science fiction. Creators like William Gibson, who coined the term "cyberspace" in his novel Neuromancer, helped define the terms of social life online, as well as inspiring many of the inventions (like smartphones) that we take for granted. But what is today's science fiction telling us about where our technology will go tomorrow? I'll talk about the stories today's scifi creators are telling about the Web and internet, and how their ideas create a fantastical map of what people are seeking in their online lives.

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Joshua Porter

Designing Sign Up Screens & Flows

Joshua Porter
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

If you have or are building a web application of any kind, chances are you also have a sign-up flow that users have to slog through in order to use your service. In this talk Joshua Porter will share best practices for designing sign-up screens that you can immediately incorporate into your designs.

Josh will cover several ways to improve your sign-up process, from focusing on the psychology of sign-up to how to structure the process, to even ways of getting rid of sign-up altogether. You'll come away thinking about the way people gain access to your application in a brand new light, more confident that you can design a solution that makes it easier, not harder to love your software.

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Toby Segaran

Why Semantics?

Toby Segaran
Friday 20th Feb | Illot theatre | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

Ever since there was a web, people have been talking about the "semantic web", which is always just around the corner. Even though this hasn't exactly gone to plan, people working on the ideas behind semantic data modeling have actually come up with a lot of cool stuff.

Modern web development is very concerned with rapid iteration, which has led to the increasing popularity of lightweight frameworks built on dynamic languages such as Rails, Pylons and Django. However, most of us are still stuck using traditional data-modeling methods like relational databases which aren't designed for constant schema changes. Further, because people don't think about "standard" ways to share data, there are thousands of different web APIs, all of which have to be dealt with separately.

In this talk Toby will explain what "semantic data" is, how entities and data can be modeled using graphs, and show examples of modeling, integrating, and extending data models for large datasets. You'll lean how the semantic models support rapid and iterative application development, and easy integration of existing databases. Toby will introduce fast scalable back-ends for storing and querying semantic data and show examples of semantic data already available on the web.

He'll also briefly discuss how these approaches lead into the standards-based Semantic Web, and how attendees can find short-term value in adopting some of the Semantic Web standards and platforms.

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Jasmina Tesanovic

The Design of Crime

Jasmina Tesanovic
Friday 20th Feb | Civic suite | 11.45am - 12.25pm

 

In July 1995 the genocide in Srebrenica has been committed in three days by serbian military led by general Ratko Mladic while the Dutch UN troops looked the other way. As an activist, a Woman in Black, I knew it immediately. Only ten years later however, in 2005, when a tape came out in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the International Tribunal for War Crimes in Hague, the whole world became aware of what went on in those few days.

The tape was shot by the paramilitary group ( from Serbia proper), called the Scorpions while they were executing the six bosnian civilians, mostly underage, during those days of genocide. Serbia living in denial had to face the reality: the six Scorpions were arrested and the trial was held in Belgrade. I had the "privilege" of attending the trial of war crimes in my own language, in my mother language around the corner of my house. At first I went there as a member of the pacifist feminist Women in Black group, to support the mothers from Srebrenica who came to Belgrade in order to testify in the court. But soon enough I started writing the chronicles which turned to be something like a Shakespearean tragedy. All of us, sitting in a tiny courtroom for a year and a half: the mothers, the indicted Scorpions, the free Scorpions, the families of the accused scorpions and we Women in Black.

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Russ Weakley

Open web, open data, open panic?

Russ Weakley
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

The Australian Museum is in the final stages of developing their new website - a website that will integrate comments, tags, user-generated content and much more.

This presentation explores some of the methods that can be used to change websites from one-way communication to richer, open communication. It also outlines some of the issues what were uncovered during the Museum website development - and methods that can be used to overcome these issues.

For those who saw Russ at Webstock 06, think of this presentation as how it all turned out!

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Ben Goodger

A retrospective of ballet classics

Ben Goodger
Friday 20th Feb | Illot theatre | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

In 40 minutes, Ben will highlight the extensive repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet from the great 19th century classics to the contemporary masterpieces - and will showcase his ability in jumps and petite batterie.

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Matt Biddulph

Hardware hacking for fun and profit

Matt Biddulph
Friday 20th Feb | Civic suite | 1.25pm - 2.05pm

 

We're used to creating systems that create millions of web pages, database rows and files every day. But our code rarely makes anything happen in the physical world beyond blinking a few lights in a server room somewhere. The good news is that the kind of electronic components that drive your washing machine, your car, your entertainment system and your giant killer robots are now ridiculously cheap, easy to program and come with convenient USB sockets. This talk will guide you through the basic of making your own devices using the Arduino platform and open-source software, and demonstrate a few reasons why you might want to do so.

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Matt Jones

The Demon-Haunted World

Matt Jones
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 2.10pm - 2.50pm

 

Since the 60s we've imagined the combination of computers and our environment would create both utopias and dystopias. Since the 80's we've seen academics, artists and corporate R&D labs prototype these futures from the top-down. Now, hackers are building sensors, bots and software into everything around them bottom-up, fast, cheap and out-of-control. They're creating environments that react, adapt and respond to us - and perhaps more importantly - each other: The Demon-Haunted World. Matt's session will be a whistlestop tour of those days of future past and pointers to some practical futures we can start building right now, together.

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Tom Coates

Instrumenting your life

Tom Coates
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 2.55pm - 3.35pm

 

New product ideas are increasingly based around the surfacing, exposing and recombination of data - and people are the biggest source of data there is. The last few years have seen us exploring the possibilities of social data and we're on the brink of the mainstreaming of location - so what's next? What parts of our lives can we track and instrument? What new product possibilities emerge? And what of data portability, ownership, brokerage and privacy?

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Bruce Sterling

The Short but Glorious Life of Web 2.0, And What Comes Afterward

Bruce Sterling
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 4.05pm - 5.00pm

 

Bruce will talk about the concepts behind Web 2.0, what its pioneers expected to accomplish, how that played out in the real world, and what may happen on the web in the next two or three years.

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Damian Conway

Web 2.0.1.

Damian Conway
Friday 20th Feb | Main auditorium | 5.05pm - 6.00pm

 

Damian is back. And he's still not happy.

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