The future of “open” webapps 2008

Back from the Future of Webapps and it was a good one. Lots of interesting talks around web applications and the web generally. I unfortunately could only be there on Thursday, but I did make it back for Diggnation Live (number 172) on the Friday night, which was pretty mental again.

Without sounding negative, it was interesting to note that out of tons of speakers (47?) only 5 of them were female and one of those replaced a male speaker who dropped out earlier. Diversity beyond gender was worst still, guessing from there profiles only 3 speakers from a non-white background. But what was really on the tip of peoples tongues was the amount of American speakers. There seemed to be a buzz around the conversations in the Fox afterwards about the lack of British speakers and if having all the fanboys/girls join FOWA is good or bad?

My take on this has always been the same. Until Carsonified's FOWA there were no really big conference celebrating the web in this way. FOWA is huge, loud and hyped up to the max, more like a festival about web development, design and business that just conference. And although our britishness tells us we should avoid it, we actually quite like it. Its a good thing to finally have something so large only the best in the field come along – No matter where they maybe from. The affect of all of this is that all those developers, designers, ux people who don't usually attend things like barcamps, geekdinners, usergroups, etc get a feel for what its like to rub sholders with different people in the same industry who might give them good advice about attending other events. Diggnation is at the end of FOWA and people who don't want to attend can just go if needed. For the rest of us, its a bit of fun at the end of a long day and before hitting the party.

Back to the Tech, the theme running through most of the sessions I felt was around the open stack as David Recordon calls it. I didn't attend a lot of talks because I was away on Friday and too busy sorting out other stuff although I did catch Suw Anderson-Charman, Kevin Marks, Ron Richards talks in the business area. I also saw Alvin Woon, David Recordon, Blaine Cook and Joe Stump. I heard great things about Tim Bray's talk which he changed at the last minute and Ryan's interview with Mark Zuckerberg.

I do think it was a shame the University stands didn't get used that much. They could have been better used if maybe they targeted students directly. Maybe they could have been used for birds of a feather sessions or for new speakers to get there first chance at public speaking or something? But don't get me wrong the whole conference was great and this is more me being picky. Glad to see videos going up straight away too

Two things overheard while at the FOWA party on Friday. One, the UK government is considering buying Yahoo Inc. Yes the same Yahoo we all know and love. It sounds crazy, but the people I was talking to, made really good points including the one about the Microsoft. When Microsoft considered buying Yahoo inc, there share price was 34 dollars a share. Now its 12 dollars a share. A buy into a technology by a government could settle other investers, bring about confidence in the economic system and future. The Second was something to do with Google's low profile at FOWA this year. But I'm sure its just Google being Google.

Excellent work Carsonified, can't wait to see what happens next year.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and