Webstock 2013 | Liveblogging Day Two

webstock logo

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

Back again—see yesterdays coverage (full webstock programme):

karen mcgraneKaren McGrane | @karenmcgrane | Adapting ourselves to adaptive content : For years, we’ve been telling designers: the web is not print. You can”™t have pixel-perfect layouts. You can’t determine how your site will look in every browser, on every platform, on every device. We taught designers to cede control, think in systems, embrace web standards. So why are we still letting content authors plan for where their content will ‘live’ on a web page? Why do we give in when they demand a WYSIWYG text editor that works —just like Microsoft Word? Worst of all, why do we waste time and money creating and recreating content instead of planning for content reuse? What worked for the desktop web simply won’t work for mobile. As our design and development processes evolve, our content workflow has to keep up. Karen will talk about how we have to adapt to creating more flexible content.

The challenges traditional publishers face. Big headache is ‘mobile’.

The real challenge of mobile is content.

All I see is an entire organisation [and industry] screaming: WE WANT THE EIGHTIES BACK.

conde naste

Conde Naste has a strategy called “COPE : Create Once, Publish Everywhere.”

We should not be forcing devices to inherit content design from the originator.

TV Guide was the most popular magazine in the states who used to create multiple versions of their content (which now interactive TV guides follow).

30 years later their content still have value.

valuable content creation

The biggest challenge [in digital] is what something looks like and what it means cannot be separated.

We all [the traditional media industry] believe there is a primary platform.

content and form

We should all start with content which can live on whatever platform and device that it wants to.

How do we do that:

1. Write for the chunk

2. Demystify metadata

3. Better CMS workflow

content at the center

Truncation is not a content strate…

Metadata is the new art direction.

You can create a (CMS) system using metadata which informs other platforms on how it presents the data.

Use mobile as a wedge—a catalyst to sweep away bad practice.

The more structure we put into our content the more flexibility and choices we have to get the content out in the future.

current cms is broken

Design for and with structured content.

bruce sterlingBruce Sterling | @bruces | What a feeling! : In a performance full of subtle shades of meaning highlighting the delicate ebb and flow of the agitations of the body, Bruce Sterling, renowned science fiction author, design essayist, Net critic and a founder of the EFF, will recreate the famous audition scene from iconic eighties movie Flashdance.


Dark euphoria: name of the certain feeling been gnawing away at you regarding cultural sensibility.

Awesome to watch, great to participate, thrilling, disruptive, but you’re not allowed to do much about it directly due to the lies about our [big world] problems.

The planets atmosphere is not a clickable solvable problem.

We have genuine (post)disruption although this ‘social media version’ of the web is dominated by players from the US.

Web 2.0 has been slowly dwindling away in quite a gracious way. The idea / language has an explicit expiration date: the web changes drastically. It’s gone and the rules and concepts under which they flourished does not apply now.

The old web as a fair platform is not relevant. There is no frontier. It’s now a big vault underground which feeds big data algorithms.

The web now is filled with millions of people connecting with others. “Stacks” have new things which 20th Century never had: a propriety operating system, some popular device, depended on wireless rather than wired.

The internet has users, stacks have livestock. You are their product. They profit from your clicks and they do not tell you about it.

They will always try to tip network neutrality in their favour.

The internet has broke a whole lot of business models and now it’s broken itself.

Normal people really like the stacks. Cops really like the stacks as it makes their business easier.

All stacks livestock are becoming musicians. You belong to a stack and they don’t give you anything. They aren’t super-evil business moguls, but they are profoundly unstable.

The stacks aren’t the villains, the don’t dominate like the old school guys. So what comes after?

We need to apply the same moral dread to future ideas of speculative technology to the stuff we have now.

Try to take a moral stand that’s praiseworthy is becoming more difficult especially those in charge of the media can control the opinion the world has of you.

There’s no off button.

We can’t go back. We have to work our way through it. We don’t have the words for this world.

tricia wangTricia Wang | @triciawang | The Elastic Self: what millions of Chinese youth tell us about the future of online identities & social media : The internet is global, but the experience of it is not universal. China and the US are both online, but they are not experiencing the same internet. What is it like to grow up digitally connected under an authoritarian regime? The sudden availability of the internet combined with open-market capitalism over the last decade has created a new social space in China where a new self has emerged, an Elastic Self. What does this mean for the largest population of internet users in the world? And what does this mean for how identities are produced online at large?

elastic self

The internet has a liberating affect on us.

China has a large information suppression—ideas that information can be dangerous so the state ‘protects’ its citizens.

Sharing stories from how young people use the web.

internet cafe china

What’s it like to come of age in a digitally connected authoritarian regime?

Online practices are inconsistant with their offline life [not like western youth]. Young people cannot fully express themselves to people they know.

Chinese government pays people 50 cent per [positive] comment on the communist Party website.

We are all online but we are not all on the same internet.

fun web

The censors has not won in China.

Communicating in memes: Grass Mud Horse sounds like “Fuck Your Mother”.

Long Weibo turns an entire text into a jpeg file and embeds them into their social profiles [to get around text search algorithms].

Internet and capitalism has created a new social space which from it a new ‘elastic self’ has emerged.

elastic self has emerged

We all engage in this elastic self.

It flourishes online is spaces which has ‘bounded’ (transparent) and ‘unbounded’ (anonymous) parameters. Social media is a spectrum allowing permissible identities.

adam greenfieldAdam Greenfield | @agpublic | Another city is possible: The “smart city” from above & below : In this lively, provocative talk, writer and urbanist Adam Greenfield reviews the case on behalf of the “smart city” offered by its most prominent advocates. He conducts a close reading of their promotional materials, questions the politics and priorities embedded in them, and concludes that what the times demand is not any such thing at all, but a loving and conscious practice of networked urbanism.

smart city

The smart city is not clear as to what it means [using Christchurch—due to the earthquake—as a discussion point].

I like to generate value by being an idiot [ask simple / basic questions]. How / When / For whom?

ibm smart city

“…synchronises and analyses efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate problems [and] manage growth and development in a sustainable way that minimises disruptions and helps increase prosperity for everyone.”

cisco smart city

“…the seamless integration of public and private services, delivered across a common network infastructure, to individuals, governments and businesses.”

siemens smart city

“Several decades from now cities will have autonomous, intelligently functioning IT systems that will have perfect knowledge of users’ habits and energy consumption, and provide optimum service. The goal of such a city is to optimally regulate and control resources by means of autonomous IT systems.”

plan it smart city

“A complete Picture of building state, usage, and operations […] continually maintained, allowed constant optimisation of energy, resources, environment, and occupant support and convenience systems…”

Watchfulness from above [is how new smart cities are being designed].

“The proximate future” are things which can be done—a place free of accountability.

Cities which are held up as examples of smart cities: Masdar (90) / PlanIT Valley (150k) / Songdo (500k).

The real problem with the ‘smart city’ has nothing to do with cities. Corporations treat these cities as a terrain and market for their services.

What brings life, order, to a place is activity—spontaneous order from below [Jane Jacobs].

Order is built up over time by an infinity of small acts.

Five ways to unlock the potential in cities:

1. Robust / fast broadband connectivity

2. Smart personal devices

3. Open municipal data

4. Public interfaces

5. Cloud computing

Things will find much more interesting thing with this architecture.

We are the city.

You are the city.

Not in the future.


eric rodenbeckEric Rodenbeck | @ericrodenbeck | Drawing outside the lines: Data visualization done wrong : Data visualization and online mapping are rapidly achieving mainstream status, and even have a bastard stepchild: infographics. This medium is set to mature beyond the dancing colored balls and sticks on black backgrounds and glowy lines on globes. Where do we go from here, as pleasure and delight take their place as criteria for success alongside utility and navigation?

data visualisation

Arresting visuals that will draw you in.

Take in data, put out something, iterate. Ask the question: what time of things can we learn from this?

you've seen them all

Shared Watercolor Maps—point is, make something made by a computer which looks like it could’ve been made by a human (which has morphed into softcities.net).

Also shared the Zero1 project.

robin sloanRobin Sloan | @robinsloan | Inventing media : Think of the formats we love: books, two-hour movies, serial TV dramas, blogs”¦ the list goes on and on. All of these formats had to be invented. But how does that happen? How do new formats get started? And how might a person participate in this process of “œmedia invention”? To find out, we”™ll travel back in time: from Webstock 2013 in the warm Wellington Town Hall, all the way back to the turn of the 20th century”¦ and the shadows of the Black Maria.

black maria

Quotation marks are strong signals. Anytime you see people making things differently it’s hard to find the words to describe what they are doing.

Shared the tap essay / app Fish which morphed into tapestry.is.

The bible was like the Microsoft Office of the 1500.

Books were the first mobile media.

Between 1914 and 1938 we finally dropped the quotation marks on “movies.”

First copyrighted movie is Fred Ott’s Sneeze recorded in Edison’s Black Maria.

fred ott's sneeze

The were media inventors.

You might already be one. If you don’t have the words for what you do. If toggle back and forth between technology and content. If you work inside the black box.

michael loppMichael Lopp | @rands | Stables & volatiles : You have a deep desire to build. Every so often a thing that you build creates unexpected value and transforms into a thing that you did not predict. In this talk, I will argue that while your success is satisfying and perhaps profitable, continued success is often dependent on two non-intuitive strategies: hiring people who are willing to disrupt that success and your willingness to throw your success away.


Humans are bad at decisions.

Disruption has been going on forever.

Best idea wins.

Get rid of all the parking spots / suits and it changes the focus on to ‘what have you built?’

There has been a war going on between stables and volatiles [builders not managers] for ages.

We wouldn’t have gone far as a species if we didn’t make small and safe decisions [stables] although you do need to sometimes make a big leap [volatiles].

Huge portion of my job is constantly negotiating between these two groups (as everyone’s right).

After [versions] 1.0 volatiles become stables (as they have to protect their babies)—a great way for companies to die.

This creates a yard sale of mediocrity:

apple greedy bastards

Throwing something away because there’s something behind it [in reaction to iPod mini to the iPod nano. Apple doesn’t want to become a stable [although Tim Cook is a stable as you need a mix].

Instead of sabbaticals Michael has created ‘blitzes’—3 months to do and build whatever they like.

Stagnation is death.

You need to build a world where both people thrive.

jason scottJason Scott | @textfiles | Wanted: dead or alive : As computer history finally gets to sit at the adults”™ table, sidling into an empty chair and looking around nervously, it”™s up to us living in the present day to help bring it up to speed. Unfortunately, we”™ve been a tad lacking in the world of data and digital preservation, with some items amazingly preserved and prepared for the centuries, while others descend into obscurity and oblivion. In a high-paced and occasionally hilarious look at death and disappearance, you”™ll follow Jason down a path of solutions, trivia, loss, and ultimately redemption. Solve problems you didn”™t know you had! Learn things you didn”™t know merited thought! Wonder where this is all leading! Be surprised when you find out!

dead or alive

The real benefit to walk into a situation you don’t know in an outfit you have no clue about.


History is full of people being awful.

Artifacts are interesting. Things that people leave behind. If we lose our past we less understand our future.

There is no gone, only forgotten:

rare vs expensive

Three virtues of the archive team: rage, paranoia, kleptomania.

We build up our lives with what we were interested in before.

The problem is, clouds disappear:

cloud vs clown

Our archive team has saved 420 terabytes of data.

mike monteiroMike Monteiro | @Mike_FTW | How Designers Destroyed the World : You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change.

I saw design as not what to make but what not to make.

designer mike

Creation without responsibility breeds destruction [see Facebook privacy settings].

Bad decision makes it into the world because someone said “fuck it!”

fuck it

When designers neglect the affect their design has they are negligible.

We need to fear the consequences of our work more than we fear speaking up.

“There are professions more harmful than design, but only a very few of them” Victor Papanek:

responsible design

Anything that is this pervasive has the power to destroy us all. What goes on the web comes through us. We can decide if it’s bad design.

The monsters we release into the world will be named after us.

Responsibility isn’t a burden but a potential—four fundamentals of responsibility:

1. To the world: hope scales better than anything. You have more power than you think.

2. To the craft: you represent us all. Write. Teach. Speak.

3. To clients: do the work right (don’t work with anyone who you are scared to say ‘no’ to). Be willing to get fired.

4. To self: the work you choose to accept defines you.

destroy your ego

destroy your fear

destroy authority

destory apathy

destory voice

destroy misogony

destory webstock

We do have a choice [on what to work on].

A fight for good design is a fight for a good web.

It’s always been our job to protect it [the world]—even if it’s from ourselves.

Webstock 2013 | Liveblogging Day One


1 comment

  1. Not sure why I got a post from 2013, however love it all the same. Really enjoyed the format and has actually woken me up to Webstock!!! What planet have I been on?!? I will definitely be going to this/

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