13 Oct 2008

FOWA 2008 London


This year the London Future of Web Apps conference was held at the ExCel centre. Ah, the ExCel: a place that feels both sterile and grimy—something I thought only possible at airports and large shopping centres.

The conference? It lacked substance, and was disappointing in that respect. Still, that’s not what it’s all about: it’s good to just take some time away from the keyboard, and talk to people about “stuff”.

I did enjoy…

  • Matt Biddulph talking about “Dopplr: It’s made of messages”. A good reminder that scale out is a lot easier if from day one you plan for N > 1. I.e,. more than one web server, more than one database, etc. I was interested to see that Dopplr use ActiveMQ for messaging; and we were pointed at Enterprise Integration Patterns as a book worth reading.
  • Blaine Cook & Joe Stump on “Languages don’t scale”. A nice set up by insulting pretty much all programming languages, and then saying that of course, it’s not about the language, it’s about I/O and the architecture of scalability.
  • Blaine Cook’s second presentation was on “Using Jabber to make awesome web sites”. In essence: polling sucks, use PubSub instead, and in particular use the Jabber protocols to make things scale. Well, it doesn’t solve all the problems, but I think the audience by now had taken the hint that messaging is useful.
  • I enjoyed the TechCrunch Pitch! event, in which five start ups pitched their ideas, Dragon’s Den style. Except without any money being involved. And related to that (in my mind) on the following day was “Work/life balance or Blood, sweat and tears: Which is the startup way?”. This was Tom Nixon arguing for some sense of work/life balance, while ’80s throwback Jason Calacanis gave the other side of the argument. He didn’t actually use the phrase “greed is good”, but it was in the air. I liked that session; it was strangely energizing.

Those were the highlights for me. You can watch the presentations online.