Summarizing last week’s trip to ‘Future of Web Apps’ event

Deciding to get out of the office to attend an event like last week’s Future of Web Apps event in San Francisco is never easy for me. Going to something like FOWA means time spent flying both ways (which totals out to about one to one and a half working days for a round trip to San Francisco, when all is said and done) and being out of the office for a couple of days. And we’re a small company so there’s always a lot to be done and things I’m working on definitely do fall behind (though I also get certain types of work done while I’m traveling that aren’t as easy to get done while I’m in the office).

So anyways, if last week’s FOWA was any indication, it’s definitely worth it to get out to these industry events. Being in Houston, we simply don’t get the same level of knowledge-sharing and idea cross-pollination (at least not outside of the office) that I believe are commonplace for people working in technology in Silicon Valley. So getting out of Houston and getting immersed in that is definitely a good thing, if nothing else, for motivation. From the Seven Rules of Motivation, attending events like these nails both “increase knowledge of subjects that inspire” and “socialize with others of similar interest.”

Unlike the few other “social software” events that I’ve attended in the past (basically, Gnomedex this year and last year), I took _LOTS_ of notes and in a sort of experiment, I’ve taken the time to put them all online.
My favorite talks were from:

  • Tom Coates (he highlighted principals behind social software in a generally theoretical framework)
  • Ted Rheingold of Dogster (his presentation was, I thought, the practical yin to Tom Coates’ more theoretical yang)
  • Cal Henderson (presentation on lessons learn at flickr– a mix of operations and developer stuff)
  • Cal Sjogreen of Google Calendar (basically a walkthrough of the process, from vision to launch, that lead to Google Calendar being created).

But there wasn’t a single presentation that I didn’t learn something from including those from Evan Williams, Matt Mullenweg, Jeff Veen, Mike Arrington, Steve O (Feedburner), Kevin Rose, and Dick Hardt (SXIP). And I have to admit that there were a couple of presentations that I missed… unfortunately.

All in all, this was a great event — thanks to Ryan and his wife Gill and Lisa Price for putting together such a great event.

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