Edge of the Web

I’ve been in Perth the past few days attending the Edge of the Web conference and the West Australia Web Awards.

The conference itself was great. It passionate, well-run and low-key, in a good way. Perth, and West Australians, don’t seem a people and a place built on hype, and the conference reflected that. People just pitched in to get stuff done, and the speakers captured that vibe and were available throughout the conference. And it was great to listen to people saying things like, “This is the first conference like this I’ve been to, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve come away inspired again!”. Or that someone was sent along to check the conference out, but next year, 4 or 5 from the organisation will be attending.

It’s hard to pick out speaker highlights from the conference, but I will mention both Derek Featherstone and Russ Weakley. They gave excellent, thought-provoking presentations, and I’m looking forward to seeing them both at Webstock in February. Edge of the Web has had a great start, and congratulations to all involved in pulling it off!

The West Australia Web Awards, or the wonderfully named “WAWAs”, were held last night. It was a black tie dinner, or the geek equivalent, and had a great buzz throughout the evening. As much as anything, it was a celebration of the web industry in West Australia, and as elsewhere, it’s something that should be celebrated.

What this trip has also done, though, is reinforced to me the value of attending conferences like Edge of the Web, and Web Directions and Webstock. A huge part of the value stems from the face to face time you have with people. It’s not something that can be replicated. Sitting next to someone and chatting while waiting for the next speaker, catching up over a drink at the end of the day, and even the semi-lucid ramblings after midnight – all of those create and reinforce connections. They provide opportunities that would never have occurred otherwise. And they make you feel part of something a little larger.

People come back from (good) conferences inspired, energised and more knowledgeable. They also come back more connected to the industry. If you’re an employer or manager, thinking about sending staff to Webstock, take into account these other, more intangible benefits of people attending. The benefit are definitely there.

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