spurkis (spurkis) wrote,

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Highlights: FOWA Expo 2008

Nika and I had a great time at FOWA London 2008 this past week. Carsonified wanted to create a conference where people could learn, be inspired, and meet others... I think they succeeded on all 3!

If you missed the conference it's worth pointing out that the talks are being made available online! Highlights for me:


This is the main reason I went to FOWA, and I'm glad I went. I had the chance to meet some really interesting people and find out about what they were working on. The Expo area was laid out well - not too crowded, and easy to browse around & hear about people's products. There was a good turnout at the evening sessions afterwards.

General Impressions

  • It's great to see commodity computing coming on strong - I think it's starting to hit the mainstream now, a lot of the people I talked to were either already using or interested in using commodity services. Indeed, Facebook's founder mentioned he would be interested in using such services for new projects, and commented on how much the landscape had changed since he started the company.

  • Everyone's getting more & more interested in mobile devices, especially since the release of the iPhone 3g (think: app store) & Android

  • Social computing (if you will) is still on the rise. Everybody's still pissed off about walled gardens & the lack of wide-spread adoption of open standards like OpenID, oAuth for sharing data between social networking sites (but hey - adoption of OpenID is growing, so we're getting there). And OpenSocial is still being pushed by Google as part of the solution.

  • How will the credit crunch affect us? No-one knows yet, but some (like Tim Bray) fear the worst, and yet still see opportunities. Gavin Starks' take on this was particularly interesting to me, even if it is unpopular: maybe less consumption is actually a good thing.

Technologies to watch

  • AMEE

    Gavin Starks' company, AMEE, has a pretty ambition goal: to collect energy consumption data about, well, everything on Earth. To enable this, it will rely on users to voluntarily share consumption data with them through their web API. Privacy will be protected at source. I'm not sure how many devices are able to capture this kind of info at the moment, but it's certainly an interesting challenge... and imagine what could be done with this kind of data! Promoting energy efficiency, singling out inefficient products, monitoring global consumption demands to analyzing what happens after you charge & unplug your phone... making people conscious of their consumption patterns can be both painful (I use that much?) and rewarding. Certainly something that needs to happen.

  • XCalibre's Flexiscale

    It's great to see a strong competitor to Amazon's EC2 service! I've signed up for a trial and can't wait to try them out.

  • Sun's Zembly

    I spoke to Todd from Zembly at great length... their utility computing platform reminds me of what we what we were trying to do with Zimki, and with what James is currently doing with Reasonably Smart. Though Zembly is more specialized (it focuses on building services & widgets, primarily for social networking apps), I think the platform has a lot of potential and I'm keen to give it a whirl.

  • Fluidinfo

    I spoke to Terry from Fluidinfo about the way they're trying to redefine storage. Web-based API's, and bizarrely, open access to CRUD that could actually work. Would be cool to see a demo of this.

  • Frog

    I spoke to Gareth from FrogTrade about their product... a collaboration tool that could easily be used as the driving component of company intranets. Again, would love to see a demo. They're currently focused at the education sector, but if they break into other markets it could prove a strong competitor to Microsoft's Sharepoint, wiki's, and similar products.

Interesting Talks

Here are the talks that stood out for me, in order of appearance:

(will link to video as & when available.)

If you had time to watch only 3, I'd recommend: Simon Wardley's, Gavin Starks, and Kathy Sierra's. Watch them all if you can ;-)

The only thing I think the organizers could have done better is in the acoustics of the venue - curtains don't keep sound in or out very well, and there was a constant high-pitched whine of (I'm guessing?) the aircon that was a bit distracting. Certainly not a show-stopper.

Kudos to Carsonified & all the presenters for putting together a good event!
Tags: conference, fowaexpo08, london, web

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