The Mob Disperses.


Sydney to Perth

Last Sunday I was sitting in the belly of a 737 at 12km’s up, hurtling across the Nullarbor Plain at 748 kmph from Sydney to Perth, with part of the Perth Posse. Hundreds of people in web community from around Australasia were then returning back to their respective towns and cities to family and loved ones. The compressed web geek week of OzIA, Web Directions South and WebJam is now over for another year. This year was enjoyable, but less intense from the previous years, which was good.

Okay this post is a little late, but still should be told. First off, a big thankyou must go to the organisers of the these events. You guys rock our worlds in ways that you just can’t comprehend. Eric Scheid for OzIA, Max Sherrin and John Allsopp for Web Directions and Lachlan Hardy and Lisa Herrod for Webjam. Over all this week of events has been a rollercoaster of gathering of the web industry tribes.

It was good to catch up with old friends again this year, it was also good to find new friends from around Australia and New Zealand. This years has been the year of the SNS. The intense use of various SNS within the web industry this years has made it such that we all in someway felt as it we had been in constant contact all year round, it was a strange feeling having a distinct point of reference with a people you had not seen for a year or so.

Now that a week near has passed and I can reflect clearly on the events of this mad week, let’s review the events in the cold light of day when all the emotional rollercoaster has been stripped away.


This conference is in its second year. It’s primarily aimed at Information Architects. It tends to attract freelancers to corporate, government people, with around 120 attendees. This year OzIA stepped up a level in it’s degree of professionalism. In general the speakers where of a reasonable standard. Some could have done with a bit of the quiet word about the level of new material and fluff of their presentations. But others where really value for money. Overall its was good technical conference with a great deal of information that I could personally take away from this conference and use immediately.

Things just worked well at this conference, the wifi was good and usable, this helped enhance the social aspect of the conference as well.

Personal highlights where:

  • Analysing Quantitative Data – Steve Baty
  • Semantic analysis in IA – Matthew Hodgson
  • Get out your pinking shears, it’s time to cut a few patterns – Sharon Varley
  • Fast, cheap & somewhat in control – 10 lessons from the design of SlideShare – Rashmi Sinha

Web Directions South

Web Directions is now in its fifth year in various guises having morphed from the Web Essentials series. Web Directions is focused on new directions in the web. This year Web Directions stepped up a level as well, into the larger corporate area with around 600 attendees.

With a new venue and a corporate focused stream. Did this weaken or change the Web Directions I have been raving about. Yes and no. There was the expected core of the web industry, but this year as well the conference attracted the Nine to Fivers. These are the people that don’t have the passion for the web. They don’t live and breath the web. From them the web is just a job. For the most part these people where there because their employer paid for them to go, and it was a few days off work. That said a lot of these people I talked to where totally surprised by the quality of the presentations and the general passion, it was as if we where converting them into the passionate core of the web industry, it was a joy to observe.

The expo for some was not a welcome addition, for me personally it was okay, I was exposed to a few new products and services I would not have normally encountered, so it was all good. I wouldn’t have expanded it anymore than a few stands in the breakout area as it was, it’s about quality not quantity in this area.

Some things didn’t work for me. The lack of free wifi in the conference rooms, whilst a blessing in one way, in that you are forced to concentrate on the speaker. It was also socially a downer, the conference social application Meet Weaver just didn’t take off this year, there was just no interaction between people on this application. However at OzIA there has an explosive use of Twitter, FaceBook and the like as a group of social interaction tools. These did enhance the OzIA conference as it was like you where chatting amongst your friends as the conference was presented. The live presentation in-jokes of the previous year at Web Directions where just not possible. If there was one thing I would change it would be that.

Could I take a lot away from this conference, yes. But in the main it was not about technical knowledge but about being inspired by the speakers. In the large part I didn’t learn anything major, more confirmation. But I did find overall a new way or direction to look at the way I work on the web. Will I be back next year, yes one hundred percent. This is still the premier web event for the year.

Personal highlights where:

  • Andy Clarke – Think like a Mountain
  • John Allsopp – Trends and predictions in web technology
  • Lisa Herrod – Usability: more than skin deep
  • Mark Pesce – Mob rules


In comparison to the two conferences WebJam was just a small one evening event. But it was really the final emotional after party. As usual it rocked, Lachlan and Lisa again maintained the high level of organisation and coordinated the madness of the 18 people in a jam with an air of uncanny ease. I didn’t present this time, but just got to take in the Webjam madness, and maybe get a little bit of camera envy at the lens set Ruth Ellison used on the night. Congradulations to the winners Dmitry Baranovskiy for his kick arse microformats tool – Optimus – the Microformats Transformer, Myles Eftos with his amazing browser based ruby debugger and third place to Digital Eskimo.

Overall this week was for me personally a turning point in the way I work and operate radharc. There will be some major changes in the way we do business in the following months.

Now we have all the events out the way we can return to our regular program, eh.

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