Web Directions » Blog http://www.webdirections.org Awesome conferences for web professionals. Mon, 07 Apr 2014 02:31:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 What Do You Know Sydney — The Season Finale!http://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-sydney-the-season-finale/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-sydney-the-season-finale/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 01:33:12 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5723 Was great to wrap up another What Do You Know roadshow last Thursday night in our home town of Sydney, with what turned out to be an incredibly diverse and entertaining collection of presentations, covering off everything web from knitting to Brunch.io. Let’s see what it was all about! And while you do that, brighten up your Monday by tuning into our playlist from the night:

WDYK April 2014 by Maxinesherrin on Mixcloud

Christopher Hunt (@huntchr) got things off to a fine start with a new approach to building applications, The Reactive Manifesto.

Regular Expressions — can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em. Elle Meredith did a terrific job, as always of explaining Regular Expressions With Ruby.

Imad Sader was next, showing us how to integrate SVG support in our build scripts.

Then Rose Matthews (@rose_matthews) took the stage to telling us all about the different types of great UX people and how to NOT keep them on your team.

Arnaud Bieri introduced us to Brunch — and that’s not the “not quite breakfast, not quite brunch, but it comes with a slice of cantalope” variety! No, we’re talking Brunch.io, the ultra-fast HTML5 build tool.

Leading us into the half-time break was Shane Weddell (@shaneweddell) of SilverStripe, who shared with us the secret of how they have built a very successful business in the open source space, by doing the opposite of conventional wisdom.

Straight after the break we took one of those wild segues for which What Do You Know is famous: Kris Howard (@web_goddess) showed us how knitting really is code in a great presentation that I’m sure will have inspired many of us to dig out the needles and yarn, I know it worked for me!

Next up Simon Swain (@simon_swain) told us to sharpen our pitchforks for 5 minutes of heresy, a motivational presentation for any developer, make sure you read the transcript.

Long time Web Directions friend Ben Buchanan — he first spoke for us in 2006, yikes! — was up next. Half of the next thing was some more motivational words for developers, on how to keep learning. Here’s those two Ueli Steck videos he mentioned — The Swiss Machine and A New Vision.

Now I must admit I was a little concerned when I set up Simon Rodwell’s (@s_roddeh) laptop on the stage and noticed he had 56 slides, for a 5 minute presentation! I don’t know how he did it, but So crypto, very currency, how website was all done in maybe 7 minutes, and we all felt a lot smarter about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by the end of it!

And that about wrapped it up, not just for Sydney, but for the whole What Do You Know Fall 2014 season. We hope you made it along, we hope you had a good time, and we hope to see you at Web Directions Code in just a few weeks now!

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What Do You Know Melbourne, April 2014 — Wrap-uphttp://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-melbourne-april-2014-wrap-up/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-melbourne-april-2014-wrap-up/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 00:22:18 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5718 There’s something about the Melbourne What Do You Know that “just works”. I think it’s maybe something about the venue, which has a slick AV setup, and is perfect for a reasonable sized crowd to be able to be there and see the presentations, while still feeling like a pub type atmosphere. This Wednesday was no exception, with everything running “smooth as”, and eleven great presentations shared with a rowdy but good natured crowd.

We also had some great music in the breaks, if I do say so myself!

WDYK April 2014 by Maxinesherrin on Mixcloud

We kicked off the evening with longtime Web Directions mate Matt Allen (@mattallen), who has recently moved to Melbourne to open the local office Lookahead, the good guys in the recruitment biz. Matt taught us something we can all learn from: that awkward job interview.

Next we had Tammy Butow (@tammybutow), organiser of the recent SheHacks Melbourne and absolute champion for getting more women involved in tech events. Tammy asked what’s your favourite thing online?

Peter Wilson (@pwcc) talked about “Deciding to be wrong”. He’s written a great blog post about it: to avoid stagnation, you need to reconsider your standard practices and the code they produce.

Next up in true What Do You Know style we took a sharp turn with Beth Skurrie (@bethesque), teaching us how to use Pacts and throw away our integration tests.

And then Mario Visic (@mariovisic) showed us the why and how of building a faster web.

Taking us into the break was Shane Weddell (@shaneweddell), who told us the SilverStripe story, also known as “how to build a successful business by doing the opposite of what everyone tells you to do”. Which was convenient enough, because next up we had a quick break for refreshments with drinks and food courtesy of SilverStripe.

Straight up after the break we had @basarat who gave us 5 reasons to start using TypeScript. You might also want to check out Playground (the tool he used to do the demo), the TypeScript source, and if you really want to get into it, here’s the language specification. Get going!

Bikeshedding and the Vicious Feedback Cycle was the intriguing title of Drew Schrauf’s (@drewschrauf) presentation. He had some great thoughts on better managing relations with your clients.

Alex Mackey (@alexjmackey) was on next, here’s the code and slides from his presentation, Just Add WebGL.

Design by Community — it’s not design by committee! Damir Kotoric (@damirkotoric) did a great job of telling us what it really is, all in just 5 minutes.

Then we closed out the night with Lars Klint (@larsklint), a true passionate user, telling us 5 things we didn’t know Windows Phone could do. Well done Lars, you get a lot of real iPhone fans at any Web Directions event, I thought it was pretty brave of you to get up there and share your passion!

And that wrapped it up for another awesome Melbourne What Do You Know. Thanks for coming along if you were there on the night, and hope you can make it next time if you weren’t!

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The music of What Do You Know — April 2014http://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-music-of-what-do-you-know-april-2014/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-music-of-what-do-you-know-april-2014/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 23:04:31 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5715 We’ve just wrapped up another series of our What Do You Know nights, this time taking the show to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. If you haven’t been to a What Do You Know, it’s an evening of lightning presentation on anything and everything web. Think of it as speed dating for ideas, where 10 speakers stand up and take just 5 minutes to “tell us what they know”. It’s the perfect formula for the whole web community to be able to see what makes each other excited, what makes us angry, what makes us sad.

But it’s more than just the presentations, there’s plenty of time for hanging out and making some new connections, so to create a bit of atmosphere this time around I created a “playlist”. The best news is, you don’t even have to have been there to tune in because I’ve shared it all below on Mixcloud, for your Friday listening pleasure. Enjoy!

WDYK April 2014 by Maxinesherrin on Mixcloud

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Australia’s Digital Agencieshttp://www.webdirections.org/blog/australias-digital-agencies/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/australias-digital-agencies/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:51:08 +0000 John http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5704 One real pleasure of doing what we do is to see so much of the excellent work Australia’s Web Industry does. Often ground breaking, entertaining, engaging, beautiful, inspiring. And one of our missions here at Web Directions, is to champion great work being done here in Australia. It’s a big reason why we started the McFarlane Prize, which now has a home with the Australian Web Industry Awards.

To this end too, we try to keep folks in the industry abreast with what’s happening here in Australia by maintaining an ever growing list of meet ups and groups related to the Web Industry. If you run one, make sure you let us know, and we’ll add it.

And in the same vein, today we’re launching something that has been on our radar for far too long, a directory of Digital agencies with a strong Web focus.

We’ve started with Agencies we know, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne, but if you’re not there, don’t take it personally, just give us your details, and we’ll get you up there as soon as possible. If you’re already in the directory, and want to update some details, just use the form as well.

This is just a first step, and in time we hope to add a showcase of the work that’s really grabbed us, conceptually, visually, or technically.

Let’s show Australia, and the rest of the world, the depth and breadth of our industry here.

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What Do You Know Brisbane — Wrap-uphttp://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-brisbane-wrap-up-3/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/what-do-you-know-brisbane-wrap-up-3/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:47:26 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5705 Thanks so much to everyone who braved the elements and came along to the biggest Brisbane What Do You Know so far! Last Thursday was a great night with eleven lightning presentations on anything and everything web, from Sproute to narcissism, and now we are well and truly pumped for Web Directions Code in Melbourne in May.

Things kicked off from 6pm with drinks and nibbles courtesy of our most excellent sponsors, SilverStripe. A couple of people asked me about the music on the night — it was the playlist from Web Directions South last year, which you can listen to anytime right here.

First cab off the rank on the night was Andy Fitzsimon (@AndyFitz), who introduced us to the idea of generative design and showed how it is being used at places like Redhat. This is a trend to watch for sure! Andy’s slides are here.

Sarah Bock’s (@bock_sarah) presentation on Narcissism and the Web seemed to strike a chord with a lot of the audience. Sarah has been good enough to write a blog post based on her preso — it certainly is a fascinating subject, and one we need to be aware of as not just participants in the Web, but also its creators.

Next, Jilly Magee (@chinkystickens) showed us how Data is the real king (and yes, content is data!). As well as her slides, Jilly has also shared a write up of her presentation.

Louis Stowasser (@louisstow) then took us through a live coding demo, using Sproute to re-create Hacker News. You can dive deeper into Sproute here, and here is a tutorial that does something similar to what Louis covered in his demo.

Then we had Katie Miller (@codemiller) who told us all about Beer in the Cloud with Node.js and OpenShift. Here’s the app she built, and here’s its source code.

Leading into the break we had Shane Weddell (@shaneweddell), who told us the SilverStripe story, also known as “how to build a successful business by doing the opposite of what everyone tells you to do”. Which was convenient enough, because next up we had a quick break for refreshments with drinks and food courtesy of SilverStripe.

After the break Luke Brooker (@lukebrooker) continued the beer theme of the night with an interesting and inspirational presentation called Craft as in Beer. Check out the slides, as well as a write up of the presentation for some insights into how Luke approaches web design and development as a craft. Oh and here’s the documentary he spoke about, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it’s well worth the watch!

Next up we had Ash Kyd (@AshKyd) who talked about the world of maps post-Google. If you’re looking to do cool stuff with maps, make sure you check out his write-up.

Ben Cull (@benjii22) showed us The State of Payments in Australia, and I’d have to say, compared to a few years ago, things are looking pretty good. Check out his preso for an overview of some of the more interesting options around out there these days.

Anna Gerber (@AnnaGerber) then showed us the ins and outs of building an open web of things — here are her slides if you want to follow up on this exciting new area.

Then to finish off the night Brandon Sheppard (@BrandonSheppard) showed us how to optimise for ecommerce.

It was a fun night! Hope you were able to make it along, and hope to see you next time we’re in your town!

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Facebook acquires Oculus Rift — The Tweetshttp://www.webdirections.org/blog/facebook-acquires-oculus-rift-the-tweets/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/facebook-acquires-oculus-rift-the-tweets/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 01:29:01 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5695 If you work in tech the news of the day isn’t the reintroduction of dames and knights here in Australia, though that is certainly good for a quick giggle. No, words on everyone’s lips this morning have been “Oculus Rift” and “Facebook” and “end of the world as we know it”. For your edification in case you have in fact been hard at work all morning …

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Can this web we love be sustainable too?http://www.webdirections.org/blog/can-this-web-we-love-be-sustainable-too/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/can-this-web-we-love-be-sustainable-too/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 00:20:00 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5683 It was lovely to receive an email from an old “friend of Web Directions” the other day, Donal O Duibhir. If you’ve been to our events you may remember Donal as that guy who was absolutely passionate about networks of all kinds, and in particular about the wifi network at the event, which he always managed with great professionalism, diligence and care. Sometimes in trying circumstances! Anyways, Donal has fled our shores for greener pastures, at least for now. And I mean greener pastures quite literally: in his new life he’s thrown himself into something else he’s always been passionate about, sustainability and permaculture.

The really exciting thing though is that he’s combining all his passions into his latest venture, Podomere, where he’s on a mission to bring permaculture to the world of I.T. I was lucky enough to get him to share a few thoughts with me.

Maxine: So tell me Donal, in 25 words or less :), what exactly is this latest venture, Podomere?

Donal: Podomere is synthesising permaculture’s design thinking and ethics within I.T. We build networks yet our focus is that of earth care, people care, and fair share.

Maxine: Podomere’s strapline is ‘scale the edge’ and ‘permaculture for I.T’. Do you want to explain what that might look like?

Donal: Scaling the edge is about ‘edge thinking’ and the ‘edge effect’ which maximises edges and interactions. The richer, more diverse, productive, and innovative environments are normally found at the connecting edges of two or more ecosystems. Today we find ourselves playing in multi-disciplinary environments where it’s not just about packets and web apps but everything above and below! It’s also about increasing the service edge from a technical perspective by allowing our clients and customers to scale their networks and web presence organically rather than requiring forklift upgrades or large punctuated jumps in CAPEX or OPEX. We have templated wired and wireless ‘cloud managed’ pod architectures and assembled service providers that can distribute content globally while staying as lean, green, and environmentally friendly as possible!

Donal in full offgrid mode when he was studying permaculture at The Channon in northern NSW.

Maxine: Tell us more about the GreenQloud story — how did you connect up with them? And have you had to do some amazing site visits in their beautiful homeland? What was that like?

Donal: Personally I’ve been performing network architecture, data centre, and information security roles in large multinationals like Cisco, Ericsson, and ABN AMRO since 2000 where well run global networks and systems demand a very high level of security, instrumentation, and management yet continue to consume vast amounts of dirty power. When I started Podomere in mid-2013 after having completed a Permaculture Design Certificate under the tutelage of Geoff Lawton, I set about searching for a way to build our new assets and services on an infrastructure provider with deeply green fundamentals. We also sought a great privacy and data sovereignty stance, positioning for low latency access to EU and US markets, and predictable energy costs (which translate to consistent and lower pricing for compute and storage over time). During my search I found GreenQloud in Iceland and set about testing them out. Subsequently we have joined their Startup Program and are now part of their Ambassador program too! They’re growing quickly and we’ve been in frequent contact with all levels of their organisation. We do have an open invitation to visit them and tour their data centres. Albeit I’m currently in Europe, I’ve yet to lock in a date to visit the wonderful team in Reykjavík‎, but it’ll happen this year and I’ll report back on our blog For the moment we’re trying to generate more awareness and gather feedback about what a sustainable digital supply chain might look like here.

Maxine: What are you focussing on at the moment?

Donal: Albeit we integrate systems while doing micro-consulting, we’re focussing on how we can get better at telling our own story and finding our niche. We really want to reach social enterprises, SME’s, B-Corporations, and any other ‘greenfields’ socially conscious organisations to help empower them to go green from the ground up whilst being more secure. We’re working on a mixture of both free and paid digital recipes for organisations including D.I.Y. pod kits with accompanying designs so they can build our pods for themselves without relying on expensive system integrators. Finally we’d really like to see the philosophy and ethos of the FLOSS(Free/Libre/Open Source Software) movement take hold within network design and system integration communities of practice. We’ll be releasing free design patterns soon!

Maxine: And where do you see this going? Tell us your wildest dreams! :)

Donal: Perhaps as somewhat of a pragmatic optimist I see an ongoing journey for humanity as we build a complex synthetic ‘overlay’ network only to subsequently realise fully the extent of the existing and underlying natural network that binds and connects us all. My dream is for a new generation of kids who will in the future somehow be born with an aggregate and long term societal memory (akin to the Bene Gesserit reverend mothers in Frank Herbert’s Dune!). Within the confines of mortality I believe this future race will have a chance to establish peace utilising their new found empathy, oneness, and altruism.‎ Other than that I’d love to live on a houseboat like Alan Watts and produce all my own energy and food!

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The Web at 25http://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-web-at-25/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-web-at-25/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 02:59:41 +0000 John http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5666 As you have almost certainly seen, (not least in Maxine’s post yesterday) in a sense the Web turns 25 today (though it’s really more the anniversary of its conception rather than birth). 25 years ago today, Tim (now Sir Tim) Berners-Lee presented his then boss at Cern Robert Cailliau (whom I had the privilege to meet at CERN last year) with a proposal Robert considered “vague but exciting” (I’ve actually held the copy with Robert’s handwritten note in my hand, another great privilege).

Vague But Exciting, the original WWW proposal

Various folks have sent their greetings to the Web on this day, and I feel like sending one too.

Thank you, Web, for changing my life infinitely for the better. I literally cannot imagine my life on any level, personal or professional, without it.

But more importantly, thank you, and providence, that you arrived when you did, as the world really faced the accumulated debt of Humanity’s behaviours over the last few decades and centuries. We face truly global challenges that if we do not address, we will in all likelihood not survive as a civilisation, or perhaps even a species.

At a time where we vitally need free and open ways in which to connect the planet, and help us address these challenges, you arrived. You are possibly our last great hope not to completely f#ck up the one planet in the universe where we’re certain there’s life, and the only planet we’ll ever in all likelihood inhabit

Thank you.

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Does the web need a bill of rights?http://www.webdirections.org/blog/does-the-web-need-a-bill-of-rights/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/does-the-web-need-a-bill-of-rights/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:59:41 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5662 Sir Tim Berners-Lee says yes, we do, if we are going to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created. He spoke of his concerns in a recent Guardian interview:

Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.

He was speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web — the first page of which we shared in the printed program for Web Directions South last year, including that wonderful annotation there at the top from his boss “Vague but exciting …”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's Information Management Proposal

Hard to believe too that we held our first ever event for people who work on the Web just 15 years after this proposal was published!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee went on to say that the issues of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity have crept up on us.

Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.

Which I thought was a nice echo to some of the words in this magnificent angry rant by one of our keynotes from Web Directions South last year. Maciej Ceglowski. Maciej’s rant, actually from his recent Webstock presentation, is well worth the read in its entirety, but here’s the bit that especially caught my eye:

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said “hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let’s make it”. It happened because we couldn’t be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let’s take people’s data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can’t raise another round of venture funding we’ll just slap Google ads on the thing.

“High five, Chad!”

“High five, bro!”

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

For myself, the more time I spend in places like Facebook, the more the values of the open web ring true for me, and come into focus as an ideal worth protecting. Oh, and if that means something to you too, don’t forget we have another of the great advocate of the open web doing the closing keynote at Web Directions Code: don’t miss Tantek Çelik’s return to Australia this May!

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The Road to a Code of Conducthttp://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-road-to-a-code-of-conduct/ http://www.webdirections.org/blog/the-road-to-a-code-of-conduct/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 06:14:55 +0000 Maxine http://www.webdirections.org/?p=5647 After months of hand wringing, today Web Directions cut the Gordian knot and published a code of conduct for our events. You can check it out here.

Seems like a good idea, you say, why all the hand wringing?

Well, it’s a terrible cliche but John and I have long subscribed to the view that actions speak way louder than words. Indeed, words are often just ways for bureaucrats and “jobs worths” to show that “they care a lot”. So instead of focussing on churning out policy docs over the years, we’ve focussed on producing great events where people learn heaps, get inspired about the web, connect with their peers, have a good time, and don’t harass or upset other attendees in the process. A project I’m proud to say, with only a couple of small exceptions, we have succeeded in for nigh on 10 years.

If you just use a bit of empathy and common sense, trust me, much as I’d like to blow our trumpet here, it’s not rocket science.

But as the old adage goes, the thing about common sense is that it isn’t that common. Many events do fall way short of the mark in terms of ensuring that all their participants feel welcomed and included, and free from harassment and alienation. We feel that when it is undertaken in good faith, going through the process of developing a code of conduct can lead to some genuine introspection on the part of the organisers, which in turn might help switch on a bit of that empathy and common sense. So we’ve published the code of conduct hopefully as an example that others will choose to follow.

On a practical note, we based ours on The Conference Code of Conduct: you’re not on your own with this!

So if you’re thinking of running an event, I really would advise you to get the team together and have a free and open debate about how you all feel about codes of conduct. Just having that conversation will go along way towards ensuring you run cool and safe events for everyone.

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