Webstock 2013 | Liveblogging Day One

webstock logo

For the next two days I’ll be opening my brain / heart to the Webstock experience, here in Wellington, NZ.

Usually I tweet the hell out of these things but the idea of filling the tweetmail stream with stuff which might not be relevant to my audience has led me here.

What follows are my observations, quick notes, insights, idea captures etc.—sometimes paraphrased, sometimes not, all caught on the fly (full webstock programme):

Clay JohnsonClay Johnson | @cjoh | Industrialized ignorance : The parallels between industrialized agriculture and industrialized media, what that’s doing to society, and what we can do about it. Go local.

How are we supposed to cause impact (in our communities) if we don’t know the vital information in them?

The media companies mirror the food companies who just give us crap.
pizza vs broccoli

Who wants to hear the truth when you can hear that you’re right!

Opinion tastes better than news.

Industrialisation is happening in mainstream media and Google, although they are trying to just confirm what you already think (and profit from it).

Ignorance used to be lack of information or access to it but today it can be defined by the consumption of too much information [related to your own worldview].

We need to manage information intake just like our food intake (especially as we then push our consumption towards our network). We need to seek out information not affirmation.

information diets

1. Consume consciously: write down the content your consuming and reflect on it (or use Rescuetime).

2. Scheduling consumption (for Twitter / Facebook etc): time is our only non-renewable resource. We haven’t made information free but hidden the costs (advertising).

3. Be a producer: create before you consume. Whatever information comes your way revolves around the things you are making not what you’re consuming.

4. Enable a whole news movement: create better ‘diets’. We need to get closer to the ‘truth’.Support media, not advertising.

5. Use data: eg Open Congress etc. Data enables us to create a more honest media.

6. Work on stuff that matters: every generation has a hyper-literate class who changes the world for the better.

work on stuff that matters

Do you want the greatest minds of our generation to focus on click-through rates?

jim coudalJim Coudal | @coudal | Digital is analog : Lessons learned and unlearned from creating and running two businesses simultaneously, one completely physical and analog and the other entirely web-based and digital.

Referencing Stumbling on Happiness:

Set goals for yourself for the person you’re going to become not the person you are today.


Coudal Partners is a typical agency only that it has no clients—it just makes things for itself. They took stock about their capital (what they have and could do) and focussed on maximising that.

You need adversary to change paths.

You either have to get paid or have fun.

Field Notes is another project they bought into. Purely analogue. Totally opposite is The Deck, although the same in it’s disruptive nature.

The idea of assassinating your clients and replacing them with ‘products’ of your own making is interesting.

Build in the residual value of your own creations.

There’s no room to be afraid. Ideas take the path of least resistance which is usually talking yourself out of something.

At 53 I just realised I have a superpower (which you have to): trust my instinct.

jason kottkeJason Kottke | @jkottke | I built a web app (and you can too) : I have spent the last three years working on, primarily by myself in my spare time, a web app called Stellar, which collects your social media favorites all in one place. It was easy to build and also difficult to build. I’ll share what I’ve learned while building it and what I’m still struggling with. And maybe we can help each other figure out how to make it easy for more people to make their own apps and what to do with them once they’re out in the world.

Been blogging professionally from 2005 (blogging since 1998)—talking about Stellar (collects all your social media favourites and puts it in one place).

He likes this photo, it’s one of his favourites (of his kids):

fav and lkes 1

Or should I say:

fav and lkes 2

The reverse chronological storytelling is unique to the web (see weblogs / Facebook Timeline / Twitter stream etc).

The revolution in startups is due to the extremely cheap software frameworks and hardware infrastructure.

Creating is about showing up and doing the work.

aza raskinAza Rushkin | @aza | Feel the burn! : Aza Raskin is founder and CEO of Massive Health and believes that health needs a design renaissance. Having spent much of the past 18 months researching the most effective methods by which to build bodily strength, develop flexibility, and increase endurance, Aza will lead us in a Jane Fonda-inspired workout.

Over 40 minutes, Aza will perform segments for toning arms, waist, abdomen, legs and hips. He will highlight the importance to one’s health, and the joy to be gained, from “feeling the burn” massive-health style.

creativity constraints

Small changes in the questions you’re asking can have vast implications on the outcomes of the answers.

Henry Kremer and his Human Powered Aircraft competition struggled to find the solution until Paul MacCready framed the questions different (away from an aeroplane).

Learn how to embrace failure and fail forward.

Constraints give you permission to look at something smaller.

Time and space where you spend the most energy is at the beginning [defining the problem].

Perceptual (what you see, what you sense) and conceptual (what you think, what you know) scopes are heightened by obstacles and constraints (or are told they these not just problems).

Constraints are nothing more than focussed obstacles. And [the right] questions lead to constraints.

Three things questions should do:

1. Preclude reliable already recognisable answers.

2. That promote novel ones.

3. That help you fail forward.

Use your constraints as advantages.

Miranda mulliganMiranda Mulligan | @mirandamulligan | Your survival is designed : Where is my jetpack?! Why aren’t we innovating “¦ faster? I have been a designer for nearly 14 years, seven of which have been spent in newsrooms. Newsrooms are not exactly hotbeds for innovation. Why is that? There are tons of ‘ber-smarty-pants people in newsrooms, but design is still an after-thought. Journalism needs designers skilled in both editorial and web, in order to survive, let alone innovate.

The work of the typical web designer goes well beyond pixel-pushing beautification and rare is the project that has no need for a designer. At one point or another, nearly all departments cross paths with “œDesign” in order to conceive or execute a project, and the most successful ones engage a designer from concept to completion. Therefore, the designer is uniquely positioned to be one of the most informed people in any organization, knowing most of the idiosyncrasies of all the moving parts.

The goal is to infuse design-thinking, a proven method for innovation, into our news operations “¦ An environment that desperately needs it. The dream is to have designers skilled in both web and editorial design, embedded into our news technology teams…and theeennnnn, jetpacks!

The more things seem different the more they are the same. In both cases the thing that seems to work best is summed up like this: “What the hell, let’s try it and see what happens.”

design thinking journalism

Technologists are winning at media innovation—why does smaller startups do a better idea to deliver news to people?

Journalism needs design thinkers in leadership roles.

Innovating the way we communicate (especially on the web).

Media companies need technologists not the other way around.

Designers are natural leaders.

traits of leadership

kelli andersonKelli Anderson | @kellianderson | Finding the hidden talents of everyday things : The things that we see day-in/day-out gradually become invisible to us. Because of their assumed predictability””their form, capabilities, and roles are easily taken for granted. However, the familiar face of a thing often belies the complexity of its underlying material (or digital) conditions.

I feel that this state of complacency offers an irresistible opportunity to “hack” these experiences and figure out what surreal and awesome things they can do. As a designer, I try to better understand how things work in order to demonstrate the surprising capabilities in the world hiding in plain sight.


I dispatch experiences out there in the world and rely on people out there to catch them.

Our subconscious minds are like steel traps to deconstruct visual symbols.

We we make things we create collaboration between the preexisting parameters of the universe [which already have inherent meaning].

On Exactitude in Science is like our brains as it attempts to predict and then get it wrong.

When we make things we have a choice: reinforce our expectations or create disruptive wonder.

john gruberJohn Gruber | @gruber | In praise of Pac-Man: lessons all designers can learn from the perfect video game : “You’ve done your best when people don’t notice what you’ve done” is an adage that applies to designers in nearly any field. Game designers have created a body of work that can serve as a model for all software designers, whether they’re creating apps, websites, or anything else.


Why was Pacman so popular? Fun. Simple. Obvious. Challenging.

Makes links to the original Macs and todays iPhone / iPad—it’s not what literate / computer savvy people can do but what others who are confident are comfortable in doing.

That’s it.

garr reynoldsGarr Reynolds | @presentationzen | Story, emotion & the art of 21st-century presentation ““ AKA no sleep till Webstock : All the way from the sleepy countryside of Nara, Japan direct to the grooviness that is Wellington and Webstock; author of the most popular presentation book in the history of the universe – Presentation Zen; reigning heavyweight champion and Number One with a bullet… Garr Reynolds, Mr Presentation Zen, will talk about the importance of storytelling principles and evoking emotions in modern presentations.


Technology is a good thing but it can lead to the darkside as well.

There was life before Powerpoint.

Simplicity is not simple:


Empty space gives power to the things that are there.

We are ‘still’ just storytellers (this involves people at a deeper level).

Act 1. Set-up
Act 2. Confrontation
Act 3. Resolution:


Ideas are king [and we can express them in presentations].

Motion pictures = emotional generator.

There’s also magic in the telling.


tom coatesTom Coates | @tomcoates | An animating spark: mundane computing & the web of data : Network connectivity is reaching more and more into the physical world. This is potentially transformative ““ allowing every object and service in the world to talk to one other””and to their users””through any networked interface; where online services are the connective tissue of the physical world and where physical objects are avatars of online services.

animating spark

This is where the optimists push back [webstock].

I look at the direction that the web is going in and I make things in that space.

The new network [online] has the potential of transforming everything.

Think of the network as an animated spark and what might be possible (when all our household products are connected):

more sparks

The way we think about the future is betraying our present.

Lets start with our mundane problems and work our way up.

mundane computing

Having something attached to the internet does not mean it has to have a browser on it or even a screen.

Amplify the core purpose of the tool.

Webstock 2013 | Liveblogging Day Two


      1. I saw that comment. Can also be hard to pay full attention to the stage and the tweetstream as well but (I’ve found) every so often someone catches something that can be summarised by their tweet.

        1. Oh, understand now – add other peoples tweets into the blog post – gotcha and yeh, thought about that and if there’s something that stands out that I haven’t captured then maybe. Trying to distill the essence of the talk here and keep my brain on the case as well.

          Thanks and keep the ideas flowing :-)

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