Some links from Webstock 08

At the two day 2008 Webstock conference last week there was so much information, some many ideas and rich jargon and hype, I grasped for a way of staying in touch with reality. To get away from the highfaluting, I asked people about websites they worked on or liked, plus some tips. Here are some, that I remember.

Mike, from Ok Computer, is rushed off his feet designing websites for tourism operators in Taupo. He’s a keen canoeist and mentioned the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association website. It’s very busy looking site with lots of news and other activity.

Hailing from Hamilton is Michele, a member of the Waikato 2020 Communications Trust, a sibling to Wellington Region 2020 Communications Trust. She proudly talked about the free website hosting available to community groups on WaiNet and their current search for a Director (applications close 22 February). The process of encouraging groups to get site hasn’t proved as easy as she thought it would be.

Another person I talked to from the central North Island was Tahi Tait, managing director of naumaiplace.com. This website is part online home for marae and part social networking site. In a brief ‘rave’ as part of the ‘8 by 5’ session, Tahi said “…had he known what he learnt at webstock, he wouldn’t have started”. It looks like things are going well with 100 marae signed up, and interest in the platform from networks in Te Tai Tokerau and overseas. The facilitation and training provided to support adoption of naumaiplace.com uses what sounds like a kaupapa Maori approach.

Now that I think about it, history was something I couldn’t escape, including many references to the past from the speakers (more on that later). I managed to bump into people involved in New Zealand history online (where you can currently find some cool photos of NZ Rail’s Cook Strait ferries) and Matapihi, the National Library’s searchable archive of over 100,000 pictures, objects, sounds, movies and texts.

Over dinner I talked with Terry Bag about recent articles he’s written for Wellington-based experimental arts magazine White Fungus. The end of the Pink and White Terraces and the Siege of Maungapohatu in 1916 added a real counter balance to the relative airiness of Webstock. I accepted the two proffered hard copies of White Fungus with delight (thank god for the printing press!).

Most of the links to websites I collected from the esteemed speakers are pretty technical, but Jason Santa Maria introduced conference goers to Fray which has gorgeous design and publishes true stories online and off. Well, I’m actually struggling to note other sites aside which weren’t about mashing-up, social networking, openIDing, code for freedom, web of data, and all that.

A technical resource for web developers in is Wellington based company W 3 A Ltd, who manually audit websites, extranets and intranets against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 1.0, along with a range of other services. I found about W 3 A from a Squiz designer, who talked about the ongoing challenge of getting websites to correctly display simultaneously in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

My final website, inferred rather than directly spoken of, is for the band Wilco. Mike, a big fan from Philadelphia, has seen them live and has a copy of the Wilco book (shooting down my absurdist claim to be the only person in Wellington with a copy). I’m sure Mike love to find other merchandise, link to a long interview with front man Jeff Tweedy from the 12 February Eclectic Company programme broadcast on Chicago’s 93 XRT radio station, and request a song for their upcoming gig in Wellington.

That about wraps up my links round up from Webstock. More posts on the conference are coming.

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