Future of Web Apps 2007 – London

February 21, 2007

Just returned from a couple of enlightening days at the Future of Web Apps 2007 conference in London. Put on by Carson Systems, the event proved to be a highly enlightening two days of talks and networking opportunities. My personal highlights of the event are below:

Day one highlights:

– Mike Arrington of Techcrunch kicked things off with an interesting talk about web 2.0 start-ups. Unsurprisingly Mike started with an apology for the demise of Techcrunch UK although didn’t go into any details.

– Tara Hunt of Citizen Agency gave a good talk on community; what it means, how to build one and what keeps users coming back. It was nothing ground breaking, but good for some of the guys I took along to hear as it was all new to them.

– Matthew Ogle & Anil Bawa Caiva of Last.fm let us in on the past, present and future of the amazing online music community and how they created a social platform. They let us in on their how they are using attention data to help rank songs popularity which was interesting. Really good to hear from some guys who have helped a start-up from the ground up and with Last.fm going from strength to strength it’s great to hear they aim to keep it simple and not complicate the platform.

– Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo gave a great talk on the future of social interaction. Really interesting guy who I was lucky enough to grab five minutes with to ask some questions.

– A brilliant spot from Soocial.com. Really funny and it’s a cool looking contact management app which could give Plaxo a run for it’s money.

– Kevin Rose from Digg let us in on some stats about usage of the platform, insights into the difficulties they face from user revolt and made an announcement that they intend to support OpenID!

Day two highlights:

– Mark Anders of Adobe gave a great demo of Flex showing just how simple it is to create apps with it. His example was a tag search for Flickr which displays thumbnails as results. Very cool, and something I’m definitely going to have a play with!

– Khoi Vinh of the NY Times spoke about user interface design and the difficulties faced by traditional media on the web. Some great usability tips and a real common sense approach to design which is always good to hear about.

– Simon Willison spoke about OpenID and the future. He gave a warts and all assessment of exactly why a single sign-on is so important, the challenges it faces and ways forwards. Very well received by the slightly partisan, blogorati crowd.

– Rasmus Lerdorf of Yahoo spoke about (guess what) PHP. I was a little disappointed he didn’t go into more detail in places but it was really interesting and great to hear from the godfather of this great application language.

– Tariq Krim of Netvibes had 5 minutes to make an announcement. This was (apparently) an exclusive and had been embargoed from being blogged about until after the announcement. The announcement was that Netvibes will be launching an API to allow cross platform widgets that will be portable and extensible. Great move! Spoke briefly with Tariq on day one and he’s a really nice guy and seemed genuinely pleased to hear me rave about my homepage set up on his product.

– Richard Moross & Stefan Magdalinski of MOO spoke about their offering of printed cards ordered via the web. Interesting to hear about the merging of old and new media and how they approached it.

There were other speakers but these are the ones who I really found of interest. The event could have done with more hardcore speakers and less sponsor spots (although I understand they are a necessary evil) but all in all kudos must go to Ryan et al at Carson Systems for putting on a great event!

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