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The Future of Web Apps - Day 2

  • Mike Arrington of TechCrunch started the second day by giving his take on startup winners and losers. He defines winners as who accomplished a liquidation event like IPO or acquisition. But look carefully at his list, which includes companies like myspace and skype, all of them got acquired. There was no IPO!

    Further he think this list is hot for new startups:

    • Flex apollo
    • platform/backend
    • developer tools
    • bring desktop app online
    • office efficiency
    • cloud storage
    • identity
    • market destruction
    • ENTERPRISE

    Right after this he downplay his own words by saying best entrepreneurs would avoid this type of advice :)

  • Ted Rheingold from Dogster took us for a tour to what he calls passion centric communities, from his own dogster and catster to many many more. What make them attractive to their loyal communities? Entertainment, information, sociality and services are what they should have. As Ted say, you can't fake sincerity. I can certainly feel the passion he radiates.

    Here is one detail he think would make some of these sites better - use something other than white as the background color.

  • Cal Henderson talked about things they have learned from building flickr. His advices focus on operation issues. Plan for downtime and maintenance. Setup a process to handle it. Communicate with the users about the problems and so on.

    Also interesting is that flickr does not have a separate QA team. The developers do everything from coding, testing to fixing bugs. He also emphasize the importance of tools. A good example is an one touch deployment tool. They also employs many other tools for monitoring.

My final observation is that the sessions are dominated by people from small companies, most of them no more than five years old. Also a sizable portion of the audiences are very young people. This is the age of new ideas. I am certain that next year we will see even more innovations.

More on day 1.

2006.09.15 [, ] - comments

 

The Future of Web Apps - Day 1

I was excited to be at this year's the Future of Web Apps summit. This two days conference has gathered many great speakers to look at some of the web's most successful sites and applications and practical advices on creating your own web app.

Here are some highlights from the first day.

  • Dick Hardt from Sxip take about identity 2.0. He's points about identity is based on past history, which in turn predict future behavior is well taken. He later demonstrated logging on to websites using different protocol such as OpenID, i-names and Infocard. Since all discussions remained at high level, it is not obvious to the uninitiated to understand what is the magic behind these new technology.

  • Kevin Rose of digg recounted an interesting anecdote that the first version of digg was built with a budget of $2000. He has contracted a programmer through elance who later became a shareholder.

  • Tom Coates from Yahoo has examined social software, what it is and what makes it works. Two points are especially noteworthy.

    He noted there are two models of social software. The consensus model, represented by wikipedia, presents one complete version of information created by many contributors. On the other hand the polyphony model, represented by flickr, presents many different versions all at once (e.g. many different photos for any give tag). He believes consensus is difficult to achieve and the success of wikipedia is more of an exception. People would be better off focusing on the polyphony model.

    Secondly he cautioned about rewarding user, either using virtual points or worst of all, actual money. He believe an imperfectly designed reward system would easily skew user behavior or even unravel the entire community.

  • Tantek Çelik from Technorati gave a good introduction on microformat, which allow us to embed structured data in HTML. It so simple that I have updated my about page right away to include a hCard and a link to add my contact to visitor's address book.

  • Steve Olechowski of Feedburner gave us an interesting tidbit. He said adding contextual ad on RSS feed does not perform at all. He explained that ads network like Google AdSense or YPN are geared toward offering product to people searching for something. For feed readers they are not really looking for anything specific but just interested in what you have to say. Since feed subscribers are people who come back daily, he suggest a brand awareness campaign would work well in this media.

  • Carl Sjogreen of Google told the story behind Google Calendar. He talked about how hard they work to design the UI that is really easy to use. Things like quick add box (natural language input box) and in-place editing has made it a much more fluid user experience.

More on day 2.

2006.09.13 [, ] - comments

 

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