This is the second year we’ve run Start-Up Alley in conjunction with the BNZ. One of the joys of it is seeing the range and variety of start-ups that enter. It’s inspiring and humbling to see so many people putting it on the line.
There were 28 entries. We’d love to showcase them all, but there’s only room for the eight finalists. Here they are!
PAPERKUT are making everyday paper receipts, paperless. We’re really looking forward to attending Webstock as part of the BNZ Start-Up Alley. We are very pleased to be selected and wish good luck to all of the finalists!
Nick Harley – Paperkut
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to put the fun and the ding! back into funding. The PledgeMe team is super stoked.
Anna Guenther – PledgeMe
Made on Jupiter
Made on Jupiter – We’re pretty stoked to be part of Webstock and finalists for the BNZ Start-Up Alley. To boot, it’s the first public showing of Spoke Creator, our software for customising 3D products online. You can imagine how excited we are!
Tom and Ross – Made on Jupiter
Stay Today is a hotel booking app that offers significantly better prices than the web. You can book premium hotels in all major CBD’s across New Zealand and Australia. Roll on Webstock – we’re thrilled and excited to be a finalist in BNZ start-up Alley.
Matthew Mayne – Stay Today
I heard that ThunderMaps was invited to Webstock and my eyes started leaking this strange salty fluid.
Clint Van Marrewijk – ThunderMaps
Being selected as a finalist for BNZ Start-up Alley at Webstock and having the opportunity to raise awareness of what we’re doing with our start-up is an amazing opportunity for Timely. The feedback that we expect from attendees and judges will be invaluable. We can’t wait!
Ryan Baker – Timely
WAITLIST revolutionizes the way busy restaurants engage with their customers to provide the ultimate customer experience. Combining mobile apps, social networks, QR codes, SMS and NFC, this all-in-one solution is a marketer’s dream.
Josh Wong – Waitlist
WIP is a collaboration tool for the screen industry filling the gap between work-in-progress and delivery. We are very excited to be able to tell you all about our company at Webstock 2013. Come and find us in the startup ally for a demo.
Rollo Wenlock – WIP
Thank you to everyone who entered. And well done to these eight finalists! We look forward to seeing them at Webstock.
Here at Webstock HQ we totally get APIs. What’s important to us is sharing — data, information, thoughts, laughs, words and love. And we see an API as a conduit for this sharing. So there’s certain… parameters; certain… constraints; certain… things that need to be in place, when developing our API.
Among these are:
The recognition of alcohol as a ‘social lubricant’ *
Actually. That’s it really.
So we asked our developers at Garage Project to hack something together for us.
We’re delighted to introduce the Webstock API, debuting at Webstock ’13 for your enjoyment.
Beer – the perfect communication interface – brewed especially for Webstock 2013.
Here’s the technical details from the Project Garage guys:
“How do you brew a reverse IPA? In conventional brewing high alpha acid hops are added at the beginning of the boil for bitterness, while low alpha aroma varieties tend to hog the spotlight at the end giving aroma and flavour. For this API we’ve turned the tables, it’s time for the bittering hops to shine. It’s an all kiwi affair with low alpha Kohatu relegated to the beginning of the boil and alpha heavy Southern Cross and Super Alpha (AKA Dr Rudi) coming in at the end.”
The essence of programming a good API is considered thought about how to proceed.
It’s vital that the API has a large enough capacity to handle demand
API, just like IPA only backwards.
The Webstock API. Or as we like to say, Cheers!
* Webstock is a place for good times and responsible drinking. While we doubt this would occur, anyone found to be excessively intoxicated and a bit of a douche, will be told off and may be removed from the premises.
It wouldn’t be a Webstock without some late-breaking news about the need to, very sadly, replace a speaker. Or two.
We’re very sorry to say that due to unforseen personal circumstances both Whitney Hess and Paul Irish will be unable to join us at Webstock. Both were very much looking forward to Webstock and it’s with regret that they’ve had to pull out.
The one bright side of these situations is that it does give us a chance to bring someone equally awesome in to speak though! We’re delighted to welcome Kitt Hodsden and Artur Bergman to the Webstock ’13 lineup!
Mark: Let’s save people a visit to Wikipedia. Give it to us straight. Who is Jason Scott?
Jason: I’m many things to many people, but these days I’m mostly living the high life as an Idea. The Idea is simple: computer history is important, and online data generated by people has weight and meaning. I run a number of projects, including the TEXTFILES.COM family of sites, a number of documentaries both in production and finished (BBS, GET LAMP, with ARCADE, 6502, and TAPE on the horizon), and working full time as an archivist for the Internet Archive.
Mark: Let’s chat about your job. To me, it looks like one of the coolest jobs in the world. Reading awesome stuff, playing old games, meeting the people who literarily changed the world, browsing GeoCities and a seemingly unlimited supply of hard drive space. Is it really is cool as it looks? What’s the biggest challenge it brings for you?
Jason: It is humbling and amazing to spend every single waking moment doing something I want to do. Yes, it really is as cool as it looks, assuming that doing unbelievably involved classification, investigation, and compilation of data is what sends your motorboat humming. For me, the fact that I help people around the world get access to so much culture and help give hope that possibly-lost history can be found again, is about as good as it gets. It’s kind of amazing to live un-ironically well for a change.
My inbox, however, looks like something that crashed the Yellow Submarine movie into Wargames.
Mark: New Zealand isn’t just a hop and a skip away for you. In fact, it’s a long fucking distance to travel. What do you hope to achieve the most from this visit?
Jason: I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand last year, and I celebrated it by landing there and being sick as a dog for the whole time. I also saw a single city, and my hosts were kind enough to guide my dizzy carcass, like some sort of meandering videogame character, through the streets of Auckland. What I saw was great, so the opportunity to travel and see more of New Zealand is a welcome chance to get it right the second time.
I’m not bothered by the distance – the destination is great! However, the last time I came by, I spent the return flight awake watching movie after movie, and 9 feature films later, I got off the plane stumbling like the creatures from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So call that a lesson learned.
Mark: You once said : “The computer industry is 50 years of over promise and under deliver”. Is that changing yet?
Jason: We have a LONG way to go before THAT changes – with endless new people signing on every day, promising them that their phones will turn tears into gold or will rescue orphans from burning buildings is still quite profitable, and with a few notable exceptions, it’s considered the way computers are marketed.
Normally, that’s not a big deal, but when the promises drift into longevity, access, and shutdown times, then my amusement turns to anger.
Mark: One of the things that shines through out the subjects of your work, is an in-depth understanding of the technology stacks some of your interviewees used. They knew how it worked and what the limitations were (and how to push them). There seems to be an increasing number of people that believe such in-depth stack knowledge is becoming a lost art. What are your thoughts? Are we understanding the technology less?
Jason: I think that there’s still access to much of the deep knowledge of how things work but as we spread the reach wider for who can use computers, the motivations of these folks to learn the really hard developer-level stuff just isn’t there. If this handheld computer that makes phone calls does more processing while showing you a map than a building’s worth of home computers did in the 1980s, your first thought might not be “I can’t wait to get into the device layer” and is likely more to be “Oh come on, that road’s been closed for weeks.”
I definitely think there’s a trend towards there being virtue in being unaware of the undercarriage of technology, and that means a lot of people are in the same position they are for their energy or their food – something goes wrong, anything at all, and we’re just completely frozen, with no solution coming forward and nothing to do but wait for the lights to come back on or for the vegetables to stop having whatever took them off the shelves in the first place. It can’t be great to be that disconnected from what keeps you alive and healthy.
Mark: As a sysop growing up, one of the things that was really clear to me at the time was the importance of staying local. Whether it was phone verification for new users or a social BBQ to talk tech over, BBS’s were largely a local community thing. Are such local communities getting lost now days with all the fan dangled new web tech? If so, can it be saved?
Jason: When things started to really move over to the internet, we definitely lost that feeling of locality and geography. Since websites were few and far between in the world, there might be one big online forum or one large news site that everyone around the world posted on at the same time. But over the years, we’re starting to see that locality come back, be it in the manner of mobile apps, attaching geography to social media, or even how people can set up something like a subreddit that services just their college or smaller town. It’s all cyclical, I guess, and things are looking up again.
Mark: You and the team at Archive Team, mirrored Geocities. An impressive undertaking in anyones book. I get lost in there randomly browsing the old neighborhoods from time to time. During the archive process you must have seen some classic stuff. Could you share a favourite you stumbled on during that mirroring work?
Jason: To be honest, what really made me happiest was not individual webpages (although I did find lots of interesting ones), but using this mass of webpages to look for similar items and then group them all together. For example, I really liked tracking down Under Construction GIFs, those animated promises of future work on a website, and putting them all on one large web page. Same for Netscape logos and mail icons. When you do this sweep across the entire collection like that, you start to see trends, artistry, and a perspective unheard of a mere 10 years earlier. To be able to go “now show me what people thought was a good way to promote their browser” or “how many different ways can you say ‘click here to mail me'” is pretty amazing.
Estelle: What is your background? What first got you interested in web development?
Chris: I was a computer nerd as a kid and that just rolled forward. I was into programming and art in high school. Then computer science and design in college. I would have loved to get a web design job right out of college but I didn’t have the chops. So I went into graphic design and the printing business for a few years. All the while I was building websites on the side. Some for fun. Some for bands I was in. Some personal sites. Some freelance. An opportunity for a web job came up, and with that sideboard of work, I was able to get it.
Estelle: What do you consider yourself? A designer? Front End Engineer?
Chris: That’s always tough to answer. That’s why I like joke titles. I was “Lead Hucklebucker” at Wufoo. Certainly Front End Engineer is a big part of it. I also do design but I’m self conscious about it.
Estelle: What are you most passionate about when it comes to front end engineering?
Chris: Decision-making is a big one for me. I really like talking through problems and making choices. Of course that could apply to any job but it’s particularly fun in front end because the days are like an endless series of little logic puzzles to solve.
What text makes the most sense here? What should happen if they click here? How does this grid behave at this size? Does this look button-y enough? Is this error message helpful enough? How could we have prevented that error in the first place?
I consider all those things front-end problems.
Things like “should this be a <div class="subtitle"> or does an <hgroup> with an <h2> make the most sense?” are front end engineering problems to be solved as well, but are less interesting to me lately.
Estelle: It sounds like you’re passionate about good user experience design. How important do you think it is for Front End Engineers to also be skilled in UX?
Chris: Fairly important. UX is everyone’s job. If you just mindlessly replicate designs I don’t think you get to be an “engineer”.
Estelle: What projects are you working on now?
I also podcast at ShopTalk (you’ve been on before!) and of course keep up CSS-Tricks, my long time blog and community site around all things web.
Estelle: For people considering entering our profession, what would you recommend them?
Chris: My general philosophy is “Just build websites.” What you need to know becomes clear when you build.
If you absolutely have no idea where to start, I think I’d suggest “Handcrafted CSS” by Dan Cederholm (the book) and read through it and follow the project.
Then pick a project of your own. Build a personal site. Find a business you can build a website for. Anything.
And just do it. You’ll have roadblocks. But now, you’ll have a motivation to do the research and learning you need to do to defeat the roadblock.
(Repeat 1,000 Times)
Estelle: What is your biggest obstacle in your career as a FEE, and what are you doing to overcome it?
Chris: There is fear and there is over-confidence. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference.
For example, every since I started web design I sized all type on every site I’ve ever worked on in pixels. I’d read stuff about the downfalls of that and alternatives and yadda yadda and dismiss it all.
I’ve been building websites for a while now, I do it this way, it works fine.
That kind of confidence is sometimes super useful. This works for me so I’m not going to worry about it and focus my attention elsewhere.
But at some point I had to admit it was either 1) being fearful of admitting that what I’ve been doing all this time was wrong or 2) overconfidence that my was best without truly considering other options.
So I give sizing all fonts with ems on a project a proper try and it’s better. There are some clear benefits.
That kind of thing can be a constant obstacle. Your own mind can be awfully stubborn.
Estelle: Where do you think our profession is going? What do you think we’ll be focusing on in 3 years?
Chris: Three years is a great time frame to think about it because it’s both close and incredibly far away at the same time. Just one year ago there were a LOT more discussions around IE 6/7. I feel like that’s pretty much over now. There was an attitude like “Oh this HTML5 stuff is neat or whatever, 2030 will be sweet!” Now a year later we’re using a lot of it on live sites. Time passing is a part of it but the rate of change is going faster too.
I think layout is going to be a different ballgame in three years. Flexbox will be starting to be used in primetime in about a year and will totally oust floats-for-layout in two years.
Web components will be a big deal I think. Web apps will be created in a much more modular structure. It will be funny to think of CSS as this huge looming monster over websites like it is now. Instead it will be contained to smaller parts.
Education will catch up a bit, so young people entering the field will have actual web experience. Tools will get better. It’s a bright future. If you’re already involved in the web right now, you picked a good place to be.
Thanks to both Chris and Estelle for the interview!