This week I was fortunate enough to attend Webstock 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. This was my second time at Webstock, the first being in 2008.

Also this year, Webstock celebrated it's tenth year, and it's really grown into something epic! Incredible speakers, awesome people, quite a lot of alcohol and whole lot of fun! 

This year I've been getting itchy feet, I've been thinking about my need for some type of creative outlet. Though I wasn't really sure of the medium I wanted to use to express whatever the hell it was that I thought I needed to write down and tell the dark hole that is the internet. Anyway, something happened to me at Webstock this year, something changed me!  After two days listening to speakers around the world in the St James Theatre I walked away with what I'm referring to as 'a f*ckton of inspiration' to just do something, just start.  This is me starting! 

Before I get into what inspired me so much about Webstock 16 I need to give you a little bit of context of my Webstock 08 experience.  

*cue black and white flash scene* 

My first tour of duty – Webstock 2008

I have three interesting memories from this tour of duty: 

#1 - Meeting people 

First of all Webstock was held in a different venue, with a different seating setup - More of a cafe setup as opposed to the current theatre setup.

I was sent on this Webstock mission as the sole attendee from my place of employment.  I knew no one, I had about 75% less confidence than I have today and I couldn't wait for the "show" to start so that I could stop feeling like the kid at school with no friends.

Sitting down at the cafe table, what I'm going to refer to as the older kids made small talk with me till the show started. What I quickly discovered is that everyone I spoke to worked heavily in the web space... "Coder, Developer, Engineer..." the list goes on.  I however, was a Service Designer to which people normally responded with one of two comments: 

  1. Why are you here? You know this is for the web right?!
  2. What the hell is a service designer? You code though, right?

I didn't really care, though it's definitely funny looking back.  Especially when you look forward to Webstock 16, the conference is jam packed with Designers, Developers, UX, Service Design, Managers, Content Produces etc - No one even cares what you do, everyone has a role to play in the tech world and anyone can make a difference!

#2 - Twitter  in 2008

I remember one of the speakers saying "Who here uses Twitter?", I then remember a small number of hands going up. In my head I was thinking, what the hell is a Twitter? Should I have a Twitter? Is this just for people how know how to code? How do you even spell Twitter? Wait, now they're talking tweets, is that the same or different?

Fast forward again to Webstock 2016 and I've got my phone on permanent charge so that I can live tweet all day, interact with other attendees and send messages of encouragement to the speakers.  Oh how the world has changed! 

I did think to myself - Ooh what new tech am I going to learn about today that will completely change life the next time I attend?

#3- Pen & Paper vs Laptops

Sitting down at the cafe table setup of Webstock '08, everyone got out their fancy laptops, powerbooks and whatever else was popular at the time.

I got out my 2B5 notebook, yup, the same type school kids use. 

I remember going back to the office the following week and talking of my shame of pulling out my old tech notebook while the code kids had fancy tools! 

Again, fast forward to Webstock 2016 and one of the most influential speakers spoke about bringing back the art of writing!  And some of the best notes from Webstock were shared on Twitter and took the form of illustrations and hand written notes.  I'm before my time, I tell you.

*fade back to current day* 

My second tour of duty – Webstock 2016

I'm not going to give you the full review of everything covered at Webstock 2016, though what I am going to do is share the biggest insights I personally took from my favourite speakers. The insights that gave me 'a f*ck-ton of inspiration'. 

One disclaimer I should add, the insight I took from each of these speakers may not have been the intended message but it's the insight I personally took. 

Favourite speakers and key takeouts:

Heather Armstrong - The Fraud of Authenticity

  • Tell more honest stories, we live in a world were everyone filters the story they want to tell and share.  What message does that send the youth of today and tomorrow.  Where is the authenticity of being a person that doesn't always get it right.

Steve Hillenius - Design Interfaces for Astronaut Autonomy in Space

  • NASA is employing design thinking and usability techniques to help make it easier for astronauts to be more antonomous in Space.  This is particualary important the deeper we go into space as real time communications become harder and harder.
  • Business rules and design thinking enable better outcomes

Luke Wroblewski - Screen time

  • Design for human scale as opposed to device type i.e. the way somebody interacts with your service, product or tool should be a key consideration for how it's designed.  Shifting to this focus is much easier than thinking about every possible SKU or product.

Askew - Graffiti & The Internet

  • Contemplating a world before the internet and the mark we leave on society - deep stuff

  • All of the artwork for Webstock was created by Askew and it's incredible - You should checkout his work if the header to this blog peaks your interest.

Nick Grey - Museums are f*cking awesome

  • Great story telling enables and empowers people.  Good story telling is basically good gossip and good gossip is sharable and empowering

Debbie Millman - Rejection 

  • Every time you get rejected in life you gain an experience, that rejection allows you to grow and think about the next experience.  Never give up.
  • Never go to work for someone how doesn't like you, that opinion will never change or you will always be fighting to change that view. 
  • Always chase your dreams, nothing is impossible

Anna Pickard - Bug fixes and minor improvements 

  • Let your customers see the human side of your business.  Have fun with it.
  • Empathy might be a buzz word at the moment but it's a key to successful engagement with your customers
  • When we talk to our customers we always say "We" because we're responding on behalf of everyone at Slack.

Tom Coates - The shape of things 

  • In the next five years everything will be connected (IoT - Internet of Things).  Designing clean and easily usable interfaces will define the products consumers choose.

Micael Lopp - Fear is a liar 

  • Writing is a dying art.  We live in a world where people write opinions in 140 characters or make a video about what they think. 
  • Start writing today.  If you've got something to say, get informed, write about it, become a better writer by writing.

In just about every session I walked away with something unique, something that made me want to create even more than ever and this site is now that outlet.  

Welcome to my first blog post.  And thanks for coming on this journey with me.