Paparazzi descend on Webstock

Well, not quite, but we are really pleased that there was been a great deal of media coverage of Webstock this year. This is great for our sponsors, good for the speakers, and makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

Here is some of the news coverage we’ve seen so far:

New Zealand Herald

Radio New Zealand

Media 7 And we were even on the TV!

Workit for Webstock

Webstock’s silver sponsor and longtime supporter Microsoft have taken a different approach to their presence at Webstock this year. They have chosen to take on the role of observer and broadcaster. Their efforts have culminated around a single piece of collateral – a backstage pass and a website – to create a lasting memory of Webstock for attendees and those not lucky enough to participate in the event. We caught up with Microsoft New Zealand Web Evangelist Nigel Parker and talked about their contribution to Webstock this year.

1. Tell us a little bit about the website and the idea of the backstage pass.

I have been lucky enough to be involved with Webstock since its inception in 2006. I have got to know the team and previous speakers that have been involved with the event and each year that Webstock takes place I’m fascinated in the excitement and love that gets generated. Previously we have engaged the audience in activities like our Valentine’s Day Flickr photo booth. This year I really wanted to bottle that excitement and take it to a wider audience and other communities.

2. How did you go about generating the content?

Every year leading up to Webstock a small gathering of fascinating people takes place at Mahurangi College in Warkworth. The event is known as Kiwi Foo Camp and is organised by Nat Torkington and Jenine Abarbanel, with assistance from Russell Brown. This year at Foo I pulled aside Webstock speakers Ben Cerveny and Eric Ries to talk on camera about themselves and the Webstock event.

With incredible support from Webstock personality and Senior VP Natasha Lampard I was able to attend and share Adam Greenfield’s mind blowing Wellington Walkshop and talk on camera with Jeff Atwood.

2. On the site you have interviews with companies and people attending Webstock, what are you trying to achieve with this?

I have been actively part of the New Zealand web community for many years. I am continually inspired by the innovation that comes from kiwis on the web. What I wanted to do with the site was showcase some of the Microsoft Gold Partners that I think are doing cool work. Among them, Intergen has been a resident sponsor of Webstock since the beginning and I caught up with their team at the event and in their office to talk about an exciting new kiosk project that they have been working on.

Also anyone that follows me on twitter knows that I’m a huge cricket fan so it was great to be able to interview another Microsoft Gold Partner NV Interactive about their latest exciting project launched this week for New Zealand cricket.

3. You mentioned Microsoft Gold Partner, what does this mean?

Microsoft is a platform company that coalesces with a strong partner community to achieve scale. The Microsoft Gold partners are highly visible in New Zealand but sometimes that can be intimidating for smaller web companies starting out. This year we have rolled out a new programme called WebsiteSpark. The programme is designed to give smaller web companies the tools to build web solution using the latest Microsoft web and design software with no upfront cost. Peter at Swizzle has done a great job of supporting this initiative with a local hosting offer.

Eighty three NZ web design companies have already signed up to WebsiteSpark. Having worked personally with some of the companies like Mcgovern, WebsiteSpark is already showing its potential to be a great program for innovative New Zealanders working on the web.

4. Webstock is an advocate of freedom and web standards. The backstage pass site leverages both Silverlight and Flash – what are your feeling around using plugins and standards based web technologies.

I find technologies like Silverlight and Flash work as a “ready now” cross platform solution to create immersive user experiences. I see standard technologies like HTML5 as “ready soon” technologies that will achieve much of what Silverlight and Flash can do today. I am excited about the prospect of HTML5 and will definitely start using it when browsers, frameworks and tools evolve.

If you take the backstage pass site as an example. I chose to publish the videos on YouTube for greatest reach and discoverability, this lead to a dependency on Flash that means you needed the plugin installed to watch the videos. The site is fully functional if you don’t have Silverlight installed but if you do have Silverlight it lights up with slicker navigation and an amazing immersive photo mosaic of shots from the Webstock conference connected to the Flickr photo service.

As more web companies support a programmer’s interface to their services the opportunity to enhance experiences on the web continues to develop. It is this future that I glimpse at during the two days of attending Webstock and plan to take back to future projects that I participate in.

Thanks for your time Nigel. We really appreciate the support that you’ve provided Webstock.

Danke Schoen!

Webstock is only possible because of the support of some bloomin’ fantastic people. Webstock 2010 was no exception, infact for me personally, due to a variety of circumstances, this one was the hardest to do and the one where I needed and appreciated the support most.

So we’d like to do a massive shout out to some of the wonderful souls who help Mike, Ben, Deb and I pull off this year’s Webstock malarkey. Their contribution; their energy; their patience; their great ideas, their sense of community and their selflessness is truly inspiring stuff.

Without further ado, great, big, huge, madsize thanks to:

The Agents Of Awesome
To Keith, Kowhai, Ludwig, Aleah, Jess, Mike, Amanda, Jenine and Tash 2.0.
Thank you for your attention to detail, your initiative, your warmth and your willingness to go the extra mile in everything you do.

Our Speakers
To Jeff Atwood, Shelley Bernstein, Daniel Burka, Ben Cerveny, Sebastian Chan, Mike Davidson, Regine Debatty, Esther Derby, Brian Fling, Thomas Fuchs, Adam Greenfield, Lachlan Hardy, Lisa Herrod, Bek Hodgson, Amy Hoy, Mark Pesce, John Resig, Eric Ries, Rives, Kevin Rose, Toby Segaran, Chris Shiflett, Scott Thomas and Jeffrey Veen.
Thank you for your sharing your knowledge with us, and inspiring us to do and think of things bigger and better than before.

Our super fricken awesome Sponsors
To Brian and the team at SilverStripe; Katy and Wayne and the folks at Intergen; Carl and Bron and the Springloaders; Nigel and Daryl and Microsoft; Leslie and Chris and Google; Rod and Craig and the Xero crew; Mark and James and the other 3month-ers; Andy and Jo and Digital NZ; Simon and the Affilorama team; Matt and Su Yin at Idealog; Rachael and Young at our nation’s airline, Air NZ; and the Wellington City Council.
Gosh dang! We feel very lucky to work with people who not only get the web, but get what we’re trying to do. A cooler team of Sponsors we could not hope to find.

Big love to James Everett, Timothy Greig, James Gilberd, Matt Dillion, Peter McLennan and the kids behind #Midnightnote, #webstockbingo and the #webstockgame. Thanks too to our other hard working and super awesome suppliers. And as always, a very, very special thank you to Ange.

And last but certainly not least, to each and every one of you who attended Webstock this year, thank you for your support and your enthusiasm and your passion. We deeply appreciate the opportunity you give us to put on this event and the faith you put in us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’ll leave this guy to have the final word…

Be more human

Webstock’s gold sponsor SilverStripe have again put an impressive amount of thought and hard work into their presence at Webstock. It includes a fantastic booth, eyecatching material in the Webstock bag, and a website created specially to complement both of these. We caught up with SilverStripe CEO Brian Calhoun and talked about their imaginative contribution to Webstock this year.

1. Your booth and satchel content asks the question, “How do humans win?” Tell us more about that.

On the back of our business cards is our mantra: “Be more human” which we’ve had for a couple years now. It’s a reminder to us that we’re solving human communication problems first and foremost. For Webstock we wanted to do something interesting to us that tied in with our mantra. We think it’s a fun question: “How do humans win?” It can be interpreted lots of different ways and when we ran a trial run at our company, we had a huge variety of responses. So we thought it would be fun to have Webstock attendees think about what humans winning means to them. This is a longer-term effort by our company — Webstock is just the beginning. The ideas & responses will live on at

2. Every Webstock bag contains two postage-paid postcards from SilverStripe which feature stunning photographs. Why did you choose the images and where did you get them from?

We asked SilverStripe employees to submit pictures of humans winning. The only criteria was that it had to be a picture that the employee took. We then sifted through the responses and picked the ones we thought were great answers to the question “How do humans win?” We thought it would be fun to turn them into postcards and put postage on them so Webstock attendees could just write a note to someone, address it, then drop it in the post.

3. Why the grass?

The goats have to eat something! If they don’t eat grass, they’ll eat anything else they can find. In the end, the people at the venue didn’t much like the idea of goats, so now all we have is the grass.

4. This morning you launched a website, What’s that about and how does it relate to the physical wall in your booth?

We wanted people who aren’t at Webstock to be able to participate in the “How do humans win?” experiment. People who visit the site can upload a photo, they can add the “bemorehuman” tag to a Flickr image, they can Tweet with the #bemorehuman tag, or they can type in how they think humans win. SilverStripe staff in the booth will monitor the site throughout Webstock and print out compelling answers / tweets / pictures and place them on the wall in the booth. The website also has a snapshot of the wall taken every ten minutes so people on the site can see how the wall evolves over the course of Webstock. The site will live on beyond Webstock because humans winning is an important idea to us and we want others to keep on sharing their ideas too.

5. You’ve sponsored John Resig and Mark Pesce. How does this fit into your “Be more human” theme?

We have huge amounts of respect for both of these technology visionaries. At SilverStripe, we use John Resig’s JQuery extensively and our developers love it. JQuery is the first Javascript library our developers have responded to in this way. That’s saying a lot. With Mark Pesce, I’ve been following his work since his VRML days and even at that time I knew he was a visionary who helps others see what’s coming. Both Mark and John are inspiring to us and they both show how humans win by doing work that resonates deeply with other humans.

Thanks for you time Brian. We really appreciate the support that you’ve provided Webstock. Without organisations like SilverStripe, Webstock simply wouldn’t be the same!

The sponsor interviews: Springload

We recently caught up with Bron Thomson, founder of Springload.

1) Tell us about Springload. How long have you been around, how did you start, what sort of work do you do?

It’s hard to say when Springload truly started to be honest. I started working on websites waaaay back when the Internet was just a wee young thing in New Zealand, around 1994. Over the years I’ve gathered more and more cool people around me, including my business partner Carl. Springload is the result, with a current team of 20 people dedicated to designing and building websites that have a strong focus on user centred design.

2) If you had to boil down the essence of Spingload’s philosophy or methodology to a few sentences, what would you say?

Love the web! It’s our Springload vision and the philosophy that we work by. We love the web and everything about it – the technology, the design, the interaction. And we want others to love it too. We also love the people that we work with – our team, and our clients, and the extended Springload family.

It is our team that make coming to work each day a joy, and it is our clients that inspire us on each project we work on. So to us, Love the web really sums up pretty much everything about what we do.

3) We noticed there were a number of Springload entries for the ONYAs. What’s been your impression of the ONYAs to date? Are they good for the industry?

Well, it’s a brand new gig, but we’re really very excited about the ONYAs. There aren’t that many awards that recognise and honour websites from a fully rounded perspective; not just the visual design, but also interaction, content, architecture and functionality as well. Web awards should be about the whole package! And we think the ONYA’s are going to be just that.

4) What speakers at Webstock are you personally most looking forward to seeing and why?

Woah, that’s a hard one, am I allowed to say them all? 😉 We’re thrilled to be sponsoring Daniel Burka, and I’m particularly interested in hearing about his Creative Director role at Digg. Others that I’m looking forward to are Scott Thomas and his focus on design and content to capture an audience; Esther Derby to get some management tips; Amy Hoy for some inspiration on avoiding same-same design; and Sebastian Chan for keeping content fresh by analysing users on the fly. Lots to learn!

5) What do you most love about working in the web?

I’ve got one of those strange brains that likes both the logical and the creative as much as each other (I did a maths degree and a music degree). This seems to me to be what the web is all about – the merging of form and function. You can’t have one without the other, and I love the challenge of meshing the two and creating an experience that is so good you almost don’t even know it’s there.