Reflections on FOWA 2009


FOWA Highlight Reel 2009

It’s autumn here in London, and this means it is time for the Future Of Web Apps (FOWA) conference! This year’s venue has changed from the Excel Centre to Kensington Town Hall. A smaller venue than the Excel, but much easier to get to. The Carsonified team led by Ryan Carson, put on one of the best conferences in the UK. FOWA is targeted towards Developers, Designers and Decision Makers. Though, many attendees don’t fit into any of these boxes. In this post, I offer my reflections from the event with some details of the stand out talks.

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users – Kevin Rose (Digg)


This year’s event kicked off with Digg’s Kevin Rose, on how to take your website from one to one million users. Kevin offered ten top tips for budding web entrepreneurs on how to stroke your visitor egos, avoid analysis paralysis, attend event parties and woo key influencers and even how to hack the press (my favourite). You can watch Kevin’s keynote talk below.

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users by Kevin Rose


Introducing Atlas: A Visual Development Tool for creating Web Applications – Francisco Tolmasky (280 North) 


The next stand out talk was by Francisco Tolmasky from 280 North. Francisco talk focused on how true web applications can be used with the richness of desktop applications. 280 North has launched Cappuccino, a JavaScript framework inspired by Apple’s Objective C language. Cappuccino uses a visual development tool called Atlas Tolmasky’s featured a demo called 280 slides, a presentation web based application which was amazing. it looked superb. Take a look at 280 Slides here.

Francisco provided an interesting insight. Developers provided feedback that their companies were unwilling to trust pure web based. Therefore his company had to produce a desktop version of Atlas, which allowed the creation of local computer based applications. You can watch Francisco’s presentation below.

Introducing Atlas: A Visual Development Tool for creating Web Applications by Francisco Tolmasky


 The Future of HMTL5 – Bruce Lawson (Opera)

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Bruce Lawson provided a very interesting overview of HTML 5.  In particular, how it would make life easier for developers. He demonstrated some media demos working in HTML 5 and he made two standout points during the talk:

  1. “HTML 5 is in direct competition with other technologies intended for applications deployed over the Web, in particular Flash and Silverlight”.
  2. “The web is too important to place control in the hands of any one vendor”.

Two very important points, with the latter gaining a loud applause from the FOWA audience.

Bruce’s presentation is available to watch below.

The Future of HTML5 by Bruce Lawson


How The Guardian is using APIs, Frameworks & Tools to Build a "Mutalised" Newspaper – Chris Thorpe (The Guardian)

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The Guardian’s Chris Thorpe delivered an interesting talk on how the Guardian newspaper looks to weave itself into the fabric of the internet, through its open platform. Chris introduced the idea of a ‘mutualised’ newspaper’, a society in which each person has the means to produce content, either individually or collectively. This journalist and the reader work together to tell the story. His presentation is available below.


How People will use the Web in the Future – Aza Raskin (Mozilla)

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Aza Raskin of Mozilla, delivered a talk on the role of the browser in the future. A fundamental shift is occurring, where the  browser forms a “you-centric” view of the web. A future where the browser understands your interests, and the interests of your friends by tapping directly into your “social graph” . His talk touched also on HTML 5, in particular how tomorrow’s browser could even hold a SQL database! His talk particularly touched upon:

  1. YOU-Centric browsing
  2. How browsers will manage your identity
  3. Browsers with native natural language processing
  4. Built-in payments in browsers

You can watch Aza’s talk below.

You-Centric: The Future of Browsing


The Future of The Cloud – Simon Wardley

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Simon’ is an excellent orator and his talk focused on the future of the cloud. He discussed the confusion that surrounds cloud computing. Experts disagree even on the definition of it. Vendors define the cloud, as “their product”. The big surprise to me, was the number of different cloud protocols that currently exist. The situation is similar to networking protocols in the the early 1990’s, IPX/SPX vs TCP/IP. Simon ended his talk with a thought provoking point:

Either the cloud is based on open source or you’ll risk losing internet freedoms".

 Basheera Khan, formerly from TechCrunch Europe caught up with Simon after his talk. She asked him to explain exactly why tech startups need to pay attention to how vendors are shaping cloud computing frameworks and standards, and why open source is the way to go if you don’t want the rug pulled out from under your cloud-based web service. You hear Simon’s comment on the audioboo below.


A modified version of his presentation can be seen below:

Marketing your Web App – The Future of Brands Online – Alex Hunter

Alex Hunter discusses the DOs and DONT’s of developing a powerful and positive brand. Nothing particularly new here for people who are familiar with online brand building.

However, Alex is a great speaker and delivers his talk with passion. His talk is available to watch below.

Branding and Marketing Essentials for Your Web App by Alex Hunter from Carsonified on Vimeo.


The Q & A Keynote with Gary V – Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV)


Watch Gary’s keynote videos below.

Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk


And Finally…

I made a small cameo appearance in a CNET video of FOWA with @natalidelconte. The video has some great interviews with various FOWA speakers including Kevin Rose.

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+

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