Webstock 12 launch

When we started Webstock in 2006 one of the things that drove us most was paying tribute to the people that had inspired us — people like Russ Weakley, Doug Bowman, Steve Champeon, Kathy Sierra, Kelly Goto and Joel Spolsky. We’ve tried to keep that attitude with each subsequent Webstock, finding people who are doing bold, inspiring, amazing, awesome work and bringing them to New Zealand to share, and teach and, yes, learn.

So we thought it would be nice for this Webstock ’12 launch to bring it back home and feature some inspiring, bold and boundless Kiwis. And we’re taking a slightly different tack to our usual format. Each speaker will have 20 minutes to share with us something that’s inspired/challenged/influenced them. It may be a piece of music, a person, an activity, a book etc. It may completely unrelated to their work. But from it, they’ve gained some sort of inspiration, excitement, perspective that’s affected one area of their work/life, or perhaps that carried through to all aspects. We’re excited about what we might hear!

Three of the speakers are proving that the geographical isolation of New Zealand is no barrier to being world-class.

Rich Chetwynd is the founder of Litmos LMS which has been recently acquired by Callidus Software Inc (NASDAQ: CALD) a big kahuna SaaS company in the US.

Layton Duncan (who has one of the coolest company names ever – Polar Bear Farm) has been building cutting-edge, kick-ass iPhone apps since before the iPhone was officially launched!

And Vaughan Rowsell, sometime cycle tourist and possessor of a world-class mustache, is doing something potentially very big and disruptive, and certainly very exciting and innovative with VendHQ.

The fourth speaker is Pip Adam, current holder of the NZ Post Best First Book awards for Everything We Hoped For. Currently working on her PhD she’s one of those rare and wonderful people who cross the geek/creative divide. (Ok, it’s really a manufactured divide, but you know what I mean!).

And we’re also excited to announce Nicky Hager as our fifth speaker. He is the author of four best-selling books and has been described as, “quite simply one of the world’s best investigative journalists”.

His 1996 book, “Secret Power”, which probed global intelligence systems, was described as a masterpiece of investigative reporting. It won a US journalism award and led to a year-long European Parliamentary inquiry.

Hager’s 1999 book, “Secrets and Lies” exposed unscrupulous PR campaigns. In 2002, “Seeds of Distrust” caused a political furore with its revelations of the political management of the genetic engineering issue. His fourth book, “The Hollow Men” which exposed the internal workings of the NZ National Party, prompted the resignation of the Parliamentary Leader Don Brash on the day that the book was released.
– Scoop

But wait, there’s more…

Those who rock up to the Webstock ’12 launch on the 15th will be challenged to pit their wits and strain their brains to decipher another type of code – (think Da Vinci) – and the ultimate Code Cracker of the evening will win a free ticket to Webstock ’12! Instructions will be handed out at registration and the winner announced at the end of the evening.

And, of course, those at the launch will get the FIRST SNEAK PREVIEW of the Webstock ’12 speaker lineup!

So, things to do:

Find out more about the launch.

Go register!

See you at the Paramount on Thursday 15 September for the launch of Webstock ’12.

The passing of Denis Dutton

We were deeply saddened to hear yesterday that Denis Dutton, founder and editor of Arts and Letters Daily and professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, had passed away.

We’re honoured to have had Denis speak at our Webstock Mini in September, where he gave the audience a sneak peak of this highly acclaimed TED talk entitled A Darwinian theory of beauty, which centered on how evolutionary theory can be applied to our appreciation of art. This remarkable, thought-provoking talk can be viewed below, or at the TED site:

Denis left a real impression on us here at Webstockville – he was a warm, lovely man – a true gentlemen, and an absolute pleasure to deal with. We feel very privileged to have met him, and a sense of great loss at his passing.

Our thoughts are with the Dutton family.

The Mix & Mash Mini

On the 3rd of November we had a wonderful evening launching The Great NZ Remix & Mashup Competition. In addition to great keynote speakers Mike Hodgson and Pamela Fox, we also had 9 wonderful presentations broadly around the theme of sharing, remixing and mashing up data and content. There was a lot of interest in having the slides available afterwards, so in the best traditions of sharing, here’s the ones we have!

Mashups as Art: The Palette, The Tools, The Canvas, and the Masterpieces – Pamela Fox

The web mashup is a work of art, and the web developer behind it is the artist. APIs and open data make up the colors of the palette, the frameworks are our tools, and the best mashups are made by developers who know how to combine these together in surprising and pleasing ways onto the canvas of the web. This talk will look at the history of this modern art form, review the growing list of raw materials, and showcase the most impressive mashup masterpieces.
HTML version – (Optimized for Chrome.. heavy on the CSS3, light on the JS)

Open Data Everywhere – Get Inspired – Glen Barnes

Open Data is more than just bus timetables and crime statistics. Take a fast paced ride through examples of how we could use open data if only we could get a hold of it.

Time, travel with Maurice – Robyn Gallagher

How relevant today is a 40-year-old New Zealand travel guide? Robyn reveals how Maurice Shadbolt’s 1968 book “The Shell Guide to New Zealand” has become her constant travel companion, amid its curious recommendations of tourist attractions, the historic cannon that wasn’t, and the last days of the Chinese gooseberry.

Transcript of Robyn’s presentation

Anatomy of a Visualisation – Chris McDowall

We see the results of creative data visualisation exercises all over the web but it is rare that an audience gets to peek inside the design process. Chris will provide a whirlwind tour of a geographic mashup’s creation, before turning to the matter of, “So, what does this actually mean?” Expect to see some maps…. lots of maps.

My ID, Your Intrepretations – Annabel Youens

Annabel takes a look digital music information and how our personal tastes are being filtered, mixed up and blended with public art, music & stories.

Curtailing Crustaceans with Geeky Enthusiasm – Rob Coup

As a young and time-poor yachtie I need to get a leg up over the old barnacles who spend every afternoon out racing on the harbour. Can my two friends technology & data help me kick ass and take home the prizes?

Webstock does research

Webstock has been asked by leading scientists to conduct some research. They’re concerned about how people act under pressure, and in particular, how certain types of people act under pressure.

Let’s be frank – people who attend Webstock events are smart. (They’re also charming and sexy, but that’s another story for another time.) But how do smart people react under pressure? Do they crumble? Do they lift their game a notch and shine? That’s what we’ve been asked to research.

We’re calling it our Primary Investigation into Serious Smartness Under Pressure. You can find out all about it here.