Until Thursday, anyway. Despite the amazing Webstock conference running in my home town of Wellington for several years now, I still hadn’t made it along to one. My loss.
How to describe Webstock 2011? Compared to commercial conferences, it was head and shoulders better than any I had been to, ever. Compared to unconferences and enthusiasts’ meetings, it was way more professional and focussed. But the best description of it was one word – the adjective on the conference pencil (I kid you not) – Awesome!The speakers were at the top of their game. Scott McCloud, the graphic novelist. David McCandless of Information is Beautiful. Peter Sunde of The Pirate Bay. Singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer. Many, many more. The production values of their presentations were immense. Their competence and sheer brilliance was overwhelming. People kept thanking them for coming down to New Zealand and they said: no, this *is* the premier conference – thanks for inviting us. That’s impressive for a meeting organised from scratch by a few passionate and committed people.
The attendees were smart people from all over New Zealand. Mostly Web folk with some entrepreneurs, security geeks and a few scientists. The conversations over coffee were fascinating.
It’s all still a bit of a whirl. Some impressions:
- The encouragement to get on and do something with the Web, with a lot of concrete advice on how to. Several speakers focussed on this.
- Talks from success stories, and from someone (Merlin Mann) who spent a long time confronting the fear of failure.
- Tom Coates trying to unpack what it all means, how the Web is changing our society and creating our future.
- The conference was in no way associated with Apple, but almost everyone present had a MacBook Pro or an iPad open on their laps. All the speakers had them. Apple has huge mindshare of people who care about technology.
- We were told that at one point there were 657 devices connected to the conference wi-fi. That’s way more devices than people present. Most people had two or three. Despite this, the wi-fi held up pretty well.
I’m left with a huge amount of material to read. I stopped taking notes after a while and decided to rely on the crowdsourced notes taken by others in the meetings and loaded directly and collaboratively into Google Docs. You can find them here.
I need to thank the organisers for doing such a stunning job, for bringing such cool people together, and most of all just for creating such a thing of beauty.