October 18, 2008

FOWA London 2008

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Last Friday I went to the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) London 2008 conference. As I only had the single day off work I decided to get the expo only entrance (£5) rather than a two-day full pass for nearly £400. Thus I didn’t get to see any of the proper talks, instead I just walked around the floor to see the booths and one “FOWA university” talk.

The talk was by Yuuguu on how to run a company when all employees telecommute. Apparently, the FOWA conference is the first time all the Yuuguu employees have met at the same time. Most of the talk was fairly bland and many in the audience were head down on their laptops or iPhones. However, there were a few interesting points. Yuuguu people don’t work if they meet in person, they consider the time too important to waste on work and they bond instead. Also, every Friday they get together online for virtual “beers”.

There were a couple dozen companies with booths. A few big names like Microsoft, Sun and Myspace were there, but most were firms I had never heard mentioned before. This caused some awkward experiences, as their names normally give no hint as to their business areas. I would squint at their posters trying to work out what they did (which often didn’t help much either). Meanwhile some marketing person would creep up on me, start talking and give me their Moo mini business card (these were literally everywhere). I left the conference knowing what every exhibiting business did, but only about half of them were marginally relevant to me.

The Microsoft booth was by far the best. Among the computers they had a couple of Xboxs and a Surface box – the Xboxs were empty while it was hard to see the Surface through the crowd. Rightly so, it was an impressive machine. All that made me want to code rather than talk and I left after an hour, skipping the Diggnation filming – I saw it last year. Anyway if want you can see the FOWA talks here.


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