I attended the Future of Web Apps conference here in SF this week. Here are my notes. I found it really interesting how presenters, each representing their own companies and interests, spoke to the audience in an "Aw shucks" way, as if to say, ‘we’re all just trying to do cool meaningful stuff on the web,’ which was really different from the tone speakers at traditional trade or even nonprofit conferences take. At most events the people in suits appropriate the tone of ‘expert’ and I often find them condescending. I imagine this has something to do with the shift in communication style between boomers, who traditionally are the experts in most fields, and the 20 and 30 something year olds, who are driving innovation on the web.
Specifically, Tom Coates of Yahoo spoke about social software with a certain humility that said, “Yahoo’s definitely developing killer applications in this space, but I recognize that there’s people beyond our firewall that are doing incredibly smart things too, and we’d like to collaborate with you." At least that’s how I heard it.<span> </span>Considering the event was made up of pretty much all white males (only a handful of woman in the entire crowd, and not a single female speaker or presenter. And I won’t even bother mentioning how vanilla the crowd was), the event had much to live up to in the way of diversity of community and point-of-view, but overall I was impressed by the content presented and am excited about learning that developers are beginning to explore how some of the tools and behaviors that have been coming out of web 2.0 on the consumer side, will be influencing the way enterprise grade systems wil be built. I imagine that nonprofits will benefit from upcoming developments in this space. One last random note. I appreciated the way the organizer and the speakers treated the crowd as if we we’re all intelligent enough to figure out how to find a place to eat. Instead of serving us some fancy salmon lunch, they simply didn’t serve lunch at all, and gave people an opportunity to mingle with one another in the pretty neighborhood surrounding the Palace of Fine Arts. This kept the conference entry fee low ($200). I’m noticing the shift to a more casual style of gathering at events I’ve attended over the last year. I’m liking it.