Future of Web Apps – FOWA08

Wow. FOWA08. Another inspirational conference from Ryan Carson and his crew. I thought that going from a small Kensington location to the huge Excel Centre would bring a few wrinkles to iron out, but I thought that it scaled up in size perfectly. More speakers, business and developer tracks, more exhibitors and good informal tech talks as well; I came away with a real boost. Even more remarkable was the difference between start and end. The same person, Kevin Rose was there to open the sessions, soberly talking about the future of news and his Digg site and he was there at the end with Alex Albrecht in a mad, mad live recorded session for Diggnation that poured out into the Fox bar and ended with their DJ sessions. If you’ve ever watched the podcasts you’ll know the ‘chat with a beer’ format, but live, with a huge number of fans crowding in was something else indeed.

The feel of the conference was social in all senses.

There were many talks about how the movement toward social interactions on all the popular sites are keeping up with the increased usage of sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Google, twitter. The instant messaging area still needs more federation of protocols to allow people to pull together the different systems. Chris Thorpe talked about the MySpace developer platform. I have the feeling that they are more flexible than Facebook and might have a lead in bringing developers into their environment. They have a competition coming up. I couldn’t quickly find the mySpace page, but there is a TechCrunch page with the info. Have a look on their website. LinkedIn which is what I use in business, is way back in this respect.

Blaire Cooke, of twitter, suggested that Jabber protocols might replace REST as lightweight services, to connect the gadgets and widgets that have been going into the social web pages. With this move toward instant messaging and instant gratification, everyone wants to be visible all the time. People are building up their presence on the web, showing what they’re feeling, what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. Location based information is coming in from GPS systems being built into cameras, phones and other gadgets; this is being used by competitors to twitter such as Laconica and Yammer, to further define users interactions. If you’re into location services and want maps, Andrew Turner from mapfacture gave a talk that was dominated by links to mapping sites. You’ll have to watch the video to get all the links; I couldn’t fit half of them in a page here. Open source mapping is growing and I would expect that to bring more maps to mash-ups as they become more complete in their coverage. APIs are certainly what interests me at the moment. There is some movement to make similar interfaces, such as Flickr, which should make more code available for me to cut and paste.

Kevin Marks of Google talked about the timeline of when the popular sites have been created. Most have become popular very quickly, but are still adapting to try and catch where the social tides are taking us. I did like his map. Have a look at his slides to get more detail. They’re on slideshare, as are many of the presentations.

As users spread themselves around several sites, there is more movement towards the open standards OpenSocial, oAuth, OpenId and other methods that allow people to move their presence around with more flexibility. We are now seeing these coming into use within gadgets and plug-ins. Friends are aggregating their instant messaging, common newsfeeds and their interests. Micro formats are becoming more formulated and are appearing in more blogs, especially the automated feeds. Portable contacts is another aspect of users wanting more flexibility in taking their personality and interests with them, although the split between their groups at work and at play are not entirely kept separate.

I’ll have to continue this later….see next page.

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