Thursday, 12 March 2009

QCon London 2009 Conference Day 2

Today was the 2nd day of the conference proper.

Transforming Software with Web as a Platform - Dion Hinchcliffe

This was the morning keynote. It was in a well presented style, however was primarily a 'state of the nation' kind of talk. Some of the interesting points for me included how building social networks around your site/product is very effective and beneficial for various reasons, including an almost off-loading some of the product support and testing into that community.

Dion covered how the biggest technology companies were hardware, then progressed to software and now were data companies. His mention of how the desktop was one of the last areas where we have "commercial software" I think this was slightly off, I think Open Source has made considerable progress and is making more all the time in that area - I think it is the Mobile desktop which is now the commercial software sweet spot - thanks to the likes of the iTunes AppStore.

He also covered cloud computing and how he felt we were at risk of falling into a very small number of large players that we trust with our data.

Agility: Possibilities at a Personal Level with Linda Rising

I chose to go to Linda's presentation as a couple of people had recommended listening to her speak if I ever get the chance. And I must say that I am glad that I did, not just for the content, but also for her relaxed and engaging presentation style.

So it was mainly a discussion about drugs, well caffeine, the worlds drug of choice, nothing else comes close with apparently around 90% of the worlds adult population consuming it daily in some form or other.

The talk (I feel) really centered around the Industrial Age and how we are still behaving and living in a manner consistent with that time. A lot of interesting facts, I knew about the drinking of beer due to bacteria in the water, but never put it together that accurate time pieces and tea/coffee became readily available at the same time - the time of the industrial revolution. And the process of making tea/coffee of course required boiling the water. So people needed to wake up for their shift at the factory, and instead of beer they would have tea/coffee which because of the boiled water was safe.

Linda spoke a lot about caffeine and its effects on the human body, some I knew, some I didn't - I certainly wasn't aware of the half-life of the effect on metabolism.

Another interesting snippet was that 80% of us think we are above average.

During the question time there was talk about adjusting work rythmns to suit peoples make up - morning person, evening person - indeed adjusting entire teams to work in this manner.

Forging ahead - Scaling the BBC into Web 2.0 with Dirk-Willem van Gulik

This talk I was looking forward to for a variety of reasons. But I must admit I felt let down, Dirk spoke very quickly and the presentation style was not great. A lot of detail was covered, but the interesting points I felt were lost.

The challenge was not just the technical one of moving from static webpages to a fully dynamic personalised Web 2.0 platform - but also the challenge of doing it in a timely and agile manner. There was coverage on how human and logistics do not scale, but no real description of how that is overcome.

There was a good point about how the BBC was funded and the impact that makes, being TV License funded more web traffic means essentially each request has to become cheaper to be done on budget.

Something that really made me think is the statement that "Content is our core business - not IT" which left me wondering why it all hadn't been outsourced, most organisations focus on their core business and bring in the experts to do the things they don't consider core.

The rest of the afternoon got whitewashed, as I bumped into Jim Webber and got talking about various things we were joined by Ian Robinson for a short while and then Martin Fowler. I was also then introduced to Paul Downey and had a interesting conversation about various things including Standards and Standardisation, Open Source development, company culture and the workings of the web.

I missed a session about Functional Programming I was keen on, but am glad I can catch it up online.

Another good day, looking forward to tomorrow.

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