A Summary of Talks I've Attended Recently

I've been to a lot of talks and a conference recently. These included:

I thought I would blog about ideas that were either:

  • New and interesting.
  • Not new, but came up a lot.


  • Be passionate or go home.
  • Be a pain killer, not a vitamin.
  • Be pragmatic; working code is better than beautiful code.
  • What's in it for the user?

Startups Should Keep in Mind

  • Big, bloated companies are good targets.
  • There is lots of room for passion-centric communities.
  • We consistently see the pattern of boom, correction, lasting change.
  • Amateurs are becoming really powerful.

Getting Started

  • Keep talking to real users, not just your techie friends.
  • Don't go beta with something that sucks.
  • Raise less money, spend less money, hire slowly, fire quickly.
  • Developers should be in the same timezone.
  • Use specialists; for instance, don't waste a good engineer fighting XHTML/CSS browser issues.
  • Don't cut corners; take care of the details.

Attracting and Keeping an Audience

  • Make it dead simple to use.
  • Do your own support.
  • Make contacting you really easy; an email address is not enough.
  • Declaw your customers by being polite and apologetic when they are rude.
  • Groups begin to fail when there are more than 150 people.
  • Don't break APIs.
  • Support CSV.

User Experience and Design

  • Put off forcing people to sign in as long as possible.
  • It's all about discoverability, recoverability, context, and feedback.
  • Make it pretty.

Production Environment

  • Plan for maintenance.
  • Graph and measure like crazy; create a dashboard.
  • Do one touch deploy; automate everything.
  • It's all about process.
  • Don't be special.
  • Design for debugability.
  • Embrace cheap hardware; expect hardware failure.

User Contributed Content

  • Most people won't contribute--that's okay.
  • Spam is a deep problem.
  • A self policing community is necessary, but not sufficient.

What's Cool

  • flickr
  • digg
  • Web APIs
  • Second Life
  • Creative Commons
  • Agile software development
  • Interoperability between Web and desktop
  • Adobe Apollo
  • memcached
  • Newsvine
  • Techcrunch

The most popular and impactful talks did not use traditional bullet point slides. Rather, they were mostly verbal, without reference to notes. Nonetheless, they were extremely well focused and structured. Slides often consisted of images licensed under Creative Commons found on flickr. The images set the mood. Also popular were slides that showed a single word or phrase. These slides were synchronized perfectly to the speech.