Future of Web Apps London, Day 1

The people at Carson Systems lined up an impressive list of speakers for the first day of FOWA, including:

as well as some “Sponsor Spotlight” 10-minute sessions from BT (who will be releasing BTContact in March), QuotationsBook and soocial.com.

I enjoyed Mike’s presentation on advice for startups, and am going to invest some time investigating Adobe Apollo which allows you to build web apps that work online and offline; apparently Adobe will then provide marketing assistance for your app.

Tara’s talk covering the fostering of online communities and was full of useful content. Common themes in community sites included:

  • A sense of fun
  • Keeping the dialogue going with your users
  • “Wouldn’t it be awesome …” development
  • Simple platforms for building on (Yahoo! Maps has a more feature-rich interface but according to ProgrammableWeb 51% of developers use Google Maps for mashups versus 4% for Yahoo! maps)
  • Compelling founder stories (Matt Mullenweg created WordPress when he was 18 years old); and
  • Community rewards

Werner Vogels’ theme was “Web Scale Computing: Compete on Ideas, Not Resources”. This covered Amazon’s S3, EC2 and SQS web services, which allow you to use resources on demand for your business rather than building your own infrastructure. Werner talked about how Gigavox has used S3 and SQS to incorporate advertising into MP3 podcasts. As another example, at the end of 2006 Smugmug were spending $40K per month on infrastructure to store 120M photos; they expect to save $2M in 2007 on infrastructure costs, and are now selling surplus hardware on Ebay.

Kevin Rose talked about how you get people to interact with your site; why do they care? He also talked about some of the things Digg will be doing to enhance the site, and announced future support for OpenID.

I’m looking forward to Day 2.

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