Wednesday, May 14, 2008

XTech Review

Last week, it was my pleasure to give the first keynote at XTech 2008 in Dublin. Giving the opening talk at any conference is always a delight because you can then relax and enjoy the rest of the sessions.

The conference was exceptional and I thought I'd take this opportunity to thank Edd Dumbill and Expectnation for organising this excellent event. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There were so many fabulous sessions that it seems unfair to highlight any in particular. However, I'll mention just a few:-

AMEE - The world's energy meter by Gavin Starks.
An inspirational talk on AMEE (avoiding mass extinction engine). Gavin and his team are focused on providing the world with a canonical source of information regarding energy consumption and carbon data. The work is essential, exciting and fascinating and the talk was delivered with real passion.

Data portability for whom? Some psychology behind the tech by Gavin Bell.
At any good conference, there is always one talk which stands out a mile from the rest, this was it. Gavin gave a breathtakingly good talk on the psychology of why non-geeks need data portability, asking the question:

"How can we ensure that we include their needs and expectations along side the buzzword tick list?"

Within our community it is all too easy to become wrapped up in the current technology and assume that everyone else is just in the process of catching up with the alpha geeks. This is an arrogant and dangerous assumption and Gavin did a great job of dissecting the issues. Awesome.

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford.
One of best technical talks that I have seen in a long time. Who'd have thought that (value == null) only works because of two errors that cancel each other out.

Here Be Dragons: Knowing Where the World Ends by Leigh Dodds.
A wonderful exploration of the open data landscape and the issue related to exploring, finding and relating canonical sources of information.

Why you should have a Website by Steven Pemberton.
An illuminating talk on the issues around lock-in and data loss in web 2.0. The key issue that Steven was arguing for was that users should have their own web sites and aggregators should collect this data together. Whilst this directly relates to the issue of portability, I happen to agree with Gavin Bell that whatever solution emerges will need to be useable by non-geeks.

On a final note, there is always a presentation which I really shouldn't have missed. Judging from the video, it was truly spectacular.

Bare-naked Flash: Dispelling myths and building bridges by Aral Balkan
True showmanship at its best including the RickRoll of Jeremy Keith. Brilliant.