Presentations

Webstock’s main conference features 20+ kick-ass presentations spread over two days of awesomeness.

Mostly they’re keynote presentations, giving everyone the opportunity to share the same experience. But occasionally we break into two streams, giving speakers the chance to delve deep into their specialist topics.

We hope you enjoy!

Kelli Anderson

Finding the hidden talents of everyday things

The things that we see day-in/day-out gradually become invisible to us. Because of their assumed predictability—their form, capabilities, and roles are easily taken for granted. However, the familiar face of a thing often belies the complexity of its underlying material (or digital) conditions.

I feel that this state of complacency offers an irresistible opportunity to “hack” these experiences and figure out what surreal and awesome things they can do. As a designer, I try to better understand how things work in order to demonstrate the surprising capabilities in the world hiding in plain sight.

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Jeremy Ashkenas

Code as Writing

Software is a strange beast, and we often try to wrestle with it by pretending that it works like a Math or a Science. But deep down — in the grit of the day-to-day, beneath the architecture and the correctness proofs, we know that it really works by a different method. Let’s talk about how code can be a type of writing, and how we might use literary techniques to shape our software.

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Artur Bergman

The Internet, performance and you — mysteries of a CDN explained

With a focus on the larger implication of networking on performance, Artur will provide an exploration in why things are slow — and why it is our responsibility to understand our stack so we can fix it. Based on the experience of building and running a CDN with servers around the world that have one mission, deliver data as fast as possible, I’ll take a whirlwind tour around some of the issues:

  • TCP — how it affects us
  • New Zealand — you are very far away!
  • Monitoring performance in a distributed fashion
  • Reasoning about performance data and expectations
  • What it’s like to live in fear of cascading failure
  • Personal responsibility
  • And a little something about SSDs

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Chris Coyier

A bird’s eye view of a modern web designer’s workflow

Being a web designer sure isn’t getting any less complex. It’s not just design and some HTML and CSS these days. In addition to visual design skill and good UX intuition, front end folks should be working locally, using version control, using preprocessors, writing JavaScript, thinking about performance, testing their work across different browsers and devices, and more. Don’t worry though! This isn’t complexity for the sake of complexity, these tools make working on websites better. We’ll go through all of these things, so you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire workflow.

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Tom Coates

An animating spark: mundane computing & the web of data

Network connectivity is reaching more and more into the physical world. This is potentially transformative – allowing every object and service in the world to talk to one other—and to their users—through any networked interface; where online services are the connective tissue of the physical world and where physical objects are avatars of online services.

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Tom Coates

An animating spark: mundane computing & the web of data

Network connectivity is reaching more and more into the physical world. This is potentially transformative – allowing every object and service in the world to talk to one other—and to their users—through any networked interface; where online services are the connective tissue of the physical world and where physical objects are avatars of online services.

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Jim Coudal

Digital is analog

Lessons learned and unlearned from creating and running two businesses simultaneously, one completely physical and analog and the other entirely web-based and digital.

The more things seem different the more they are the same. In both cases the thing that seems to work best is summed up like this: “What the hell, let’s try it and see what happens.”

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Adam Greenfield

Another city is possible: The “smart city“ from above & below

In this lively, provocative talk, writer and urbanist Adam Greenfield reviews the case on behalf of the “smart city“ offered by its most prominent advocates. He conducts a close reading of their promotional materials, questions the politics and priorities embedded in them, and concludes that what the times demand is not any such thing at all, but a loving and conscious practice of networked urbanism.

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Adam Greenfield

Another city is possible: The “smart city“ from above & below

In this lively, provocative talk, writer and urbanist Adam Greenfield reviews the case on behalf of the “smart city“ offered by its most prominent advocates. He conducts a close reading of their promotional materials, questions the politics and priorities embedded in them, and concludes that what the times demand is not any such thing at all, but a loving and conscious practice of networked urbanism.

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Kitt Hodsden

Set yourself up to succeed

Many of the successes we hear about these days are the big ones, the ones that are most sensationalized, given the loudest voice or the most coverage.  What we often don’t hear about are the small steps that, over time, avalanche into those big successes.

Starting with the foundation of techniques for automating and streamlining much of our digital work, let’s explore the ways that we can take those first steps, make small changes daily, and build up a framework that sets us up to succeed.

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John Gruber

In praise of Pac-Man: lessons all designers can learn from the perfect video game

“You’ve done your best when people don’t notice what you’ve done” is an adage that applies to designers in nearly any field. Game designers have created a body of work that can serve as a model for all software designers, whether they’re creating apps, websites, or anything else.

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Clay Johnson

Industrialized ignorance

The parallels between industrialized agriculture and industrialized media, what that’s doing to society, and what we can do about it.

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Jason Kottke

I built a web app (& you can too)

I have spent the last three years working on, primarily by myself in my spare time, a web app called Stellar, which collects your social media favorites all in one place. It was easy to build and also difficult to build. I’ll share what I’ve learned while building it and what I’m still struggling with. And maybe we can help each other figure out how to make it easy for more people to make their own apps and what to do with them once they’re out in the world.

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Jason Kottke

I built a web app (& you can too)

I have spent the last three years working on, primarily by myself in my spare time, a web app called Stellar, which collects your social media favorites all in one place. It was easy to build and also difficult to build. I’ll share what I’ve learned while building it and what I’m still struggling with. And maybe we can help each other figure out how to make it easy for more people to make their own apps and what to do with them once they’re out in the world.

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Mike Monteiro

How Designers Destroyed the World

You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change.

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Michael Lopp

Stables & volatiles

You have a deep desire to build. Every so often a thing that you build creates unexpected value and transforms into a thing that you did not predict. In this talk, I will argue that while your success is satisfying and perhaps profitable, continued success is often dependent on two non-intuitive strategies: hiring people who are willing to disrupt that success and your willingness to throw your success away.

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Michael Lopp

Stables & volatiles

You have a deep desire to build. Every so often a thing that you build creates unexpected value and transforms into a thing that you did not predict. In this talk, I will argue that while your success is satisfying and perhaps profitable, continued success is often dependent on two non-intuitive strategies: hiring people who are willing to disrupt that success and your willingness to throw your success away.

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Karen McGrane

Adapting ourselves to adaptive content

For years, we’ve been telling designers: the web is not print. You can’t have pixel-perfect layouts. You can’t determine how your site will look in every browser, on every platform, on every device. We taught designers to cede control, think in systems, embrace web standards. So why are we still letting content authors plan for where their content will “live” on a web page? Why do we give in when they demand a WYSIWYG text editor that works “just like Microsoft Word””? Worst of all, why do we waste time and money creating and recreating content instead of planning for content reuse? What worked for the desktop web simply won’t work for mobile. As our design and development processes evolve, our content workflow has to keep up. Karen will talk about how we have to adapt to creating more flexible content.

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Craig Mod

Subcompact Publishing

The subcompact publishing manifesto is a set of guidelines for approaching contemporary digital publishing. But more broadly speaking, it’s a meditation on respect for readers and mediums. It’s a methodology for approaching anything new: take a step back and add pieces slowly and deliberately to the system. How does this philosophy seep into the surface and editorial design of digital publications?

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Miranda Mulligan

Your survival is designed

Where is my jetpack?! Why aren’t we innovating … faster? I have been a designer for nearly 14 years, seven of which have been spent in newsrooms. Newsrooms are not exactly hotbeds for innovation. Why is that? There are tons of über-smarty-pants people in newsrooms, but design is still an after-thought. Journalism needs designers skilled in both editorial and web, in order to survive, let alone innovate.

The work of the typical web designer goes well beyond pixel-pushing beautification and rare is the project that has no need for a designer. At one point or another, nearly all departments cross paths with “Design” in order to conceive or execute a project, and the most successful ones engage a designer from concept to completion. Therefore, the designer is uniquely positioned to be one of the most informed people in any organization, knowing most of the idiosyncrasies of all the moving parts.

The goal is to infuse design-thinking, a proven method for innovation, into our news operations … An environment that desperately needs it. The dream is to have designers skilled in both web and editorial design, embedded into our news technology teams … and theeennnnn, jetpacks!

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Aza Raskin

Design is the beauty of turning constraints into advantages

It’s not about thinking outside the box. It’s about finding the right box to think inside. The power of constraints is learning to choose the right problem.

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Garr Reynolds

Story, emotion & the art of 21st-century presentation – AKA no sleep till Webstock

All the way from the sleepy countryside of Nara, Japan direct to the grooviness that is Wellington and Webstock; author of the most popular presentation book in the history of the universe – Presentation Zen; reigning heavyweight champion and Number One with a bullet… Garr Reynolds, Mr Presentation Zen, will talk about the importance of storytelling principles and evoking emotions in modern presentations.

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Garr Reynolds

Story, emotion & the art of 21st-century presentation – AKA no sleep till Webstock

All the way from the sleepy countryside of Nara, Japan direct to the grooviness that is Wellington and Webstock; author of the most popular presentation book in the history of the universe – Presentation Zen; reigning heavyweight champion and Number One with a bullet… Garr Reynolds, Mr Presentation Zen, will talk about the importance of storytelling principles and evoking emotions in modern presentations.

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Eric Rodenbeck

Drawing outside the lines: Data visualization done wrong

Data visualization and online mapping are rapidly achieving mainstream status, and even have a bastard stepchild: infographics. This medium is set to mature beyond the dancing colored balls and sticks on black backgrounds and glowy lines on globes. Where do we go from here, as pleasure and delight take their place as criteria for success alongside utility and navigation?

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Jason Scott

Wanted: dead or alive

As computer history finally gets to sit at the adults’ table, sidling into an empty chair and looking around nervously, it’s up to us living in the present day to help bring it up to speed. Unfortunately, we’ve been a tad lacking in the world of data and digital preservation, with some items amazingly preserved and prepared for the centuries, while others descend into obscurity and oblivion. In a high-paced and occasionally hilarious look at death and disappearance, you’ll follow Jason down a path of solutions, trivia, loss, and ultimately redemption. Solve problems you didn’t know you had! Learn things you didn’t know merited thought! Wonder where this is all leading! Be surprised when you find out!

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Robin Sloan

Inventing media

Think of the formats we love: books, two-hour movies, serial TV dramas, blogs… the list goes on and on. All of these formats had to be invented. But how does that happen? How do new formats get started? And how might a person participate in this process of “media invention”? To find out, we’ll travel back in time: from Webstock 2013 in the warm Wellington Town Hall, all the way back to the turn of the 20th century… and the shadows of the Black Maria.

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Bruce Sterling

What a feeling!

In a performance full of subtle shades of meaning highlighting the delicate ebb and flow of the agitations of the body, Bruce Sterling, renowned science fiction author, design essayist, Net critic and a founder of the EFF, will recreate the famous audition scene from iconic eighties movie Flashdance.

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Tricia Wang

The Elastic Self: what millions of Chinese youth tell us about the future of online identities & social media

The internet is global, but the experience of it is not universal. China and the US are both online, but they are not experiencing the same internet. What is it like to grow up digitally connected under an authoritarian regime? The sudden availability of the internet combined with open-market capitalism over the last decade has created a new social space in China where a new self has emerged, an Elastic Self. What does this mean for the largest population of internet users in the world? And what does this mean for how identities are produced online at large?

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Tricia Wang

The Elastic Self: what millions of Chinese youth tell us about the future of online identities & social media

The internet is global, but the experience of it is not universal. China and the US are both online, but they are not experiencing the same internet. What is it like to grow up digitally connected under an authoritarian regime? The sudden availability of the internet combined with open-market capitalism over the last decade has created a new social space in China where a new self has emerged, an Elastic Self. What does this mean for the largest population of internet users in the world? And what does this mean for how identities are produced online at large?

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