After last nights shenanigans at the Southern Cross pub, Cuba St, we woke to an early start, getting to the beautiful, 105 year old, Wellington Town Hall to be greeted by plenty of ushers and volunteers, feeding the masses barista-made coffee and raising the anticipation of the day ahead.
Door open of 8.50am comes around quickly, and we’re being shepherded inside for unique-to-a-conference banquet style seating, around tables of ten for the opening of Webstock 2009.
The first speaker of the day, Jane McGonigal, took us on the road of a gamer, with her talk explaining how gaming can improve your life.
Next up, the 500 strong audience listened to Nat Torkington, who expounded his wisdom about the lessons of better, stronger, faster failures. The big takeaway was fail small, and the only bad thing about failure is if you don’t learn from it.
Prior to lunch, we then broke into three streams (Matt Biddulph and Fiona Romeo spoke in two other rooms), where I stayed in the main auditorium to listen to Meg Pickard, Head of Communities and User Experience for guardian.co.uk, speak about content, communities and collaboration.
After lunch, three streams continued (with Cameron Adams & Pamela Fox being in the smaller rooms), and I sat as young (23 years) and very smart David Recordon gave a presentation on the open social web, expounding the virtues and explaining the history of the open data movement, comparing Facebook, MySpace and other social networks.
With everyone back in the main auditorium, our next speaker, Adrian Holovaty, went through the design and development decisions and lessons he has learnt in building well known US-based mash-up, everyblock.com. His experience began in developing one of the first Google Map mash-ups, chigacocrime.org.
Heather Champ spoke about passionate communities, from her personal experiences gained as one of the original Flickr team members. She discussed the growing pains, the trials and the tribulations of user management and their filtering and copyright strategies.
Author and software designer, Michael Lopp then took us on a light-hearted look at the differences between Geek, Nerd and Dork. As he alliterated a number of times, he thinks of himself as a nerd, maybe a geek but definitely not a dork.
Well known web identity, Ze Frank, was the closing speaker of day one with a fun look at his experiences since his first animated dancing clip, many years ago.
Afterwards, the Webstock team invited everyone to stay for a champagne and nibble, whilst browsing the wares of Craftstock, an Etsy style collection of artists selling unique handmade geek craft items.
All in all, a fantastic day, with the only downside being the arctic conditions inside the main auditorium – the first we’ve felt of the cold since arriving in Wellington on Tuesday. Mental note; I’ll remember my jacket for tomorrow.