Last week I reluctantly passed on FOWA (Future of Web Apps conference). A smaller venue than previous years; a less compelling lineup. An event hit by the crunch but priced at a wallet-busting £385. No startup discounts, either.
Afterwards, tweets and blogs gushed praise onto the organiser, Ryan Carson and he replied personally to every one. Sounded like FOWA '09 was a hit, and I was sad to have missed it. However, Adam Charnock's blog post relieved the stinging sensation.
Adam discusses the new "sobriety" in the tech scene at FOWA, and his point about the maturing of the web app industry is spot on. It was only a few years ago that we lacked a Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, IMDb, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Last.fm and Meetup.com. This was a time when the big problems hadn't yet been solved. The novelty and passion in the grassroots tech community was strong back then. I'm fond of those memories, and disappointed to see a progression to something more glitzy and artificial. Fluffy attention seekers and pretty posers swan around "covering" events in the scene (Not referring to anyone in particular.. ahem!). Social web "gurus." Usability "experts." Sycophants that follow them. The Twitterati. All these things that bewitch, seduce and leech the last of the "juice" from the web tech scene. It now seems more important to acquire 2000 followers on Twitter than to actually create a web application.
The freshness and excitement of the web app world has faded.
It hasn't expired completely, though. It's moving elsewhere. Devices like the iPhone have game-changed the market for developers. It's enticing to build an app that runs in millions of hands and is able to exploit a touchscreen, camera, compass, GPS/GSM/3G/bluetooth radio, accelerometers, 3D hardware acceleration, microphone and speakers. Very cool indeed.
A technologist is foolish, maybe, to write off web apps and covet the new and shiny. There are still interesting challenges on the web. Migrating monolithic apps to the cloud, for example, or monetisation.
For me, though, mobile development is where it's at. Real-world problems can be solved here. There's a learning curve, immature APIs, eclectic new hardware, UX challenges and frameworks to build. Many, many possibilities.
Oh, and venture capital and profit.. if you like that kinda thing.
So.. the future. I await a "Future of Mobile Apps" conference that is organised impeccably, like the FOWAs of old, and creates the same teched-out bliss. Somewhere where we can sit with our Macbook Pros and iPhones and talk about the cutting edge once again. Creating something new. Sounds like fun, eh?
(3 years, 7 months ago)