Back from Webstock 2010

If the web industry in the USA is anything to go by, there doesn’t seem be a recession. Of the dozen or more speakers from Silicon Valley at Webstock conference not a single one mentioned anything to do with an apparent economic downturn.

Job losses? Shrinking incomes? Not in start-up land.

Indeed we heard about the almost near miraculous opportunities on the web to sweep people from humble obscurity to being super software stars (and still be nice, humble guys).  The pattern of exponential growth on the internet was unchallenged. Reverence for the market is undimmed.

Not wishing to dwell on the downside, these start-up dudes couldn’t really give me the magic answer to how much comes down to hard work, and how much to sheer luck.

The talks didn’t stay on the prosaic level of tips and advice for wannabe software giants or examples of excellent websites/ design/ online community (eg Brooklyn Museum). Once again this year’s crop of thinkers swept us into the future, or somewhere.

I’m not sure what Regine deBatty’s job title is, but her major occupation is reporting on art galleries and installations. Loads of them by the looks from the we make money not art website. Her lateral challenge to participants was to don’t assume you really know what interaction is for everyone. Look again.

Someday virtually everything will be part of the a networked environment, so Adam Greenfield told us. Today we might just have Snapper cards, CTV cameras, eft-pos machines parking meters, displays, cellphone towers, weather gauges and other assorted devices hooked to the network in our urban areas, but in the future many more things will be connected. The chair you’re sitting in perhaps?

Doubtless this will have implications for civil society and the public sphere. This will likely creep up on us whether we choose or not. (Read more Cheap as chips – your networked chair” from the NZ Herald.)

If all this sounds rather grave, thank goodness for the bright yellow yoyos shared with everyone by conference sponsors Intergen. Tactile, non-networked, something my children can play with, without breaking (so far).

Once again, Webstock was a revved-up, idea fest. Not sure where all the web stuff is taking us, but I still want to be a part of it as long as we turn it to social good.

Update (14 March 2010): I spoke too soon. Yesterday Elsa broken the yoyo.

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