Webstock 09 recordings – Take Two

We’ve just posted the next group of recordings from Webstock 09 and with this most of the first day’s recordings are now available.

Here’s the new ones:

Cameron Adams – Programmers are the new creatives

Heather Champ – Shepherding Passionate Communities

Ze Frank – The explicit

Adrian Holovaty – A mashup case study: EveryBlock.com

David Recordon – Open, social web

Enjoy! And the next group of recordings will be available next week.

The speaker interviews – Bruce Sterling

One of the names generating a lot of excitement for Webstock is that of Bruce Sterling. It’s his first trip to New Zealand and there’s already lots of interest in his presentation. We interviewed Bruce recently, with a little help from Nat Torkington in putting the questions together.

Webstock: Did you always want to be a writer?

Bruce: No. Now that I think about it, my supposed urges to “be something” were always based in everybody around me assuring me that I had to “be” in some profession. I’m sure glad I didn’t go into any of the lines of work that were recommended when I was a teenager.

Webstock: Have you been writing as long as you can remember?

Bruce: Not really, no. I don’t do a lot of writing for writing’s sake — I’ve never been much good as a diarist. I tend to write about specific topics I find of compelling interest.

Webstock: What were the first books you fell in love with, and why?

Bruce: I don’t want to sound contrarian here, but I don’t think that my deep long-term, abiding interest in encyclopedias and reference texts qualifies as “love.”

Webstock: Any advice for those of us raising kids in 2009? What should we be fostering in them, letting them do, exposing them to?

Bruce: Well, it’s certainly important to have children. And, no matter how anxious you feel about them, it’s also important to understand that they are human beings like you, and therefore more rugged than they look.

I think you should try to set your children a good example by involving them in your daily life. They always remember that much better than they remember any “lessons” or “exposures” or “quality time.”

Webstock: What cities most embody the future, and why?

Bruce: Well, no city ever embodies an absolute future, but there are cities in certain periods that clearly embody the trends driving that period.

It’s not a surprise to tell people that London, Paris, and New York are important now, and that things
are happening there now that will spread widely.

But I would also recommend a close look at Berlin, Baghdad, Mumbai, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco,
and Mexico City. Also Dubai and Shanghai. Dubai and Shanghai are kind of the comedy tag-team of futuristic cities.

Mind you, I don’t choose to live in any of those places. Basically, I live in Belgrade, Austin and Torino. These towns don’t seem to have much in common, but they’re all the same size and rather similar geographically. I wouldn’t call them great metropolises destined to dominate futurity, but they are three places that each somehow feel like a home to me.

Webstock: We’re losing the boundary between the online and the offline worlds as more devices are networked and become sensors or displays for the Internet. If you were product development king at Microgooglehoo or one of the three-inital Chinese hardware manufacturers, what would you be creating with this technology?

Bruce: Well, you’d have to be king, because if you build anything that out-thinks the demands of the next quarter, the shareholders will kill you.

Of course, now that the shareholders are jumping out of windows themselves, maybe you have a chance to innovate.

If I really had to choose here, I think I’d go for the Google philosophy: hire many smart people, give them some free time to build anything they want, and try to ramp up the successes. Throw a bowl of cheap spaghetti at the wall, and see whatever sticks.

Of course, business-school graduates will punish you for this sensible approach, because it shows a lack of serious devotion to core competencies, and lacks a unique value proposition. That’s why those poseurs should never run tech companies. In fact at this point I’m unsure what they SHOULD run; if they all retired to monasteries, our quality of life would likely boom.

If I have to focus on one line of tech development, I’d say green energy apps. That’s very hard work, but if we don’t get there, nothing else is going to matter much.

If you give me a second choice, cellphone banking for the Third World. In fact, any kind of democratized banking that isn’t like modern banking. Probably the best place to build such a thing is in an area that has never had any banks. Someplace poor, peaceful and honest. Okay, those three social qualities never go together; you can have two of ’em, but never all three in the same place. But there’s gotta be some good locale for a useful start-up like that… use Google Maps!

Webstock: Thanks Bruce! It’s going to be a pleasure to have you here in February.

The Webstock Pub Quiz

A sense of fevered anticipation hangs over Wellington tonight. An uneasy sleep awaits those select few entered in the Webstock Pub Quiz as last-minute swotting, research and bribing (ha, if only!) takes place. We have over 20 teams, over 100 people eager to partake of Quizmaster Von Lampard’s downright devious questions.

In the interests of starting the trash-talking early, we publish a list of team names. Please feel free to contribute to that in the comments, and we’ll update this entry with the winners after the event.


The quiz night was great fun! Congratulations to all teams that took part, and especially the winning team – Never mind the Webstocks, here’s the Wellingtonista. Well done guys!

Going into the 6th and final round, the Wellingtonista’s were tied for the lead with Stronger than Dirt, but they looked the pressure right in the eye and recorded a perfect 10 out 10.

A couple of special mentions:

To the Librarians who were consistently the geekiest team, giving each of their entries a Dewey decimal number, annotating answers and providing copious footnotes and providing many illustrations.

To Dinosaur in my Speaker, who were dead at the start of the final round, but recorded a perfect 10 out of 10 in that last round to shoot up the table.

And a huge thank you to quizmaster extraordinaire Von Lampard, who kept the crowd entertained and challenged through the night.

And the results …

Never mind the Webstocks, here’s the Wellingtonista   47
Stronger Than Dirt   44
Zietguys & girls   39
The Banditos   39
Hammer Boner   38
ff00ff   38
INSERT into users (team_name) values (\m/); (METAL)    38
MCH Web-Ref All-Stars   38
The Red Hot Techy Peppers   35
NVincible   34
Team Stagflation   33
Snowmen In Summer   32
One quiz team free to good home…   32
Tard Me’; drop table other_teams1 –   31
Dinosaur in my Speaker   30
The Librarians   30
FUELeD   29
Norfolk and Chance   29
Dunno   27
Ventego Vegans   26
Xero Expectations   25
It’s Quizness Time   23

Chrome and Android

If you’d mentioned the words “Chrome” and “Android” to someone a year or so ago, unless they were from the inner recesses of Google, they would have just just looked at you kinda funny. But in the last couple of months, Google have launched these products in the browser and mobile spaces, the ramifications of which will play out in the next year.

Speculation abounds as to the reasoning behind these launches, what they mean and how they’ll affect the existing players in the marker. With that in mind, we’re delighted to welcome back two speakers to Webstock who’re uniquely placed to offer more insight.

Ben Goodger was the Lead Engineer for Firefox and is currently Tech Lead for user interface on Chrome. And, of course, he’s a kiwi! He’ll be talking to us about Chrome, but also in general about where browsers are going and what the implications of all this are. Given Ben’s background and accomplishments, we really can’t think of many better people to present on this subject.

Chris DiBona is the Open Source Programs Manager at Google. With the open source nature of Android, in what has famously been a very closed and proprietary space, we’re looking forward to Chris’ thoughts on Android and its potential as a game-changer for mobile. Anyone who caught Chris’ talk at the last Webstock will know he’s a great speaker with a huge knowledge of the open source movement. And lots of stories to tell, even if sometimes he only hints at them!

We’re sure there will be a lot of interest in the presentations of Ben and Chris and we’re excited about having them back at Webstock.

Craftstock returns to Webstock Mini

Craftstock at webstock, oh how the stock rises.

Because this promises to be the most amazing Webstock mini ever we thought we’d share with you one of our extra special treats.

As part of the evening that is Webstock mini and to remind you of how much fun Webstock will be in February, we’ve brought back Craftstock! Sometimes events have special crushes on each other
and in our case Webstock birdy and Craft2.0 bear thingy like spending special quality time together – so we’ve let them reunite for Craftstock mini at Webstock mini

So just for you, one night only, the posse of Craft2.0 crafters, will be at the Paramount. During the break they”ll be selling the very best and brightest of their wares, much of which won’t be available to the world till Craft2.0 on October 11th. It’s kind of like you get a jump on all of Wellington.

They’ve also confirmed special secret treats (because the best treats are always secret) for everyone who buys something on the night.

So since all your drinks at Webstock mini are FREE, you have no excuse to get ready for a mini shopping excursion.