Webvision 2007 in Review

This was my second WebVisions - a conference focused on "the future of the Web" that has happened in Portland, Oregon for the last seven years. I enjoy Webvisions and was honored to speak there this year. My talk was about how blogs, communities and mobile devices are changing the travel experience. Of course, it was all based on stories from our trip last year.

The conference attracts a lot of designers and developers, along with business people working to get an understanding of the changes shaping the web. This makes for a strange but useful mix of talks from AJAX to effective communication. I sensed a real focus on communication this year. Here are a few I enjoyed.

David Pescovitz has a long list of titles, from being co-founder of Boing Boing to working for the Institute For The Future and being Editor-at-large for Make: Magazine. His talk was wide-ranging, but one small thing stuck with me. He is a constant observer - looking for things that indicate a shift in the way things work. He calls them "weak signals". I'm going to have to steal this phrase.

Kevin Smokler is a writer that is focused on something near and dear to my heart: plain language communication. His talk was all about the goofy ways that technology companies try to relate what they do. The key point from Kevin is that most customers are not engineers and product descriptions should recognize this fact if they want more success. Customers care more about the problem a product solves than how it solves it.

I enjoyed meeting Lane Becker and Thor Muller who have a new company called Satisfaction Unlimited (blog). Their talk was Let go! 8 Steps to Succeeding in a Post 2.0 World. One of their messages stuck with me and I'm considering a whole post about it. They encourage businesses to "be like the internet". This sounds a little silly, I know. The message is that businesses should reconsider their position in relation to other businesses and web sites related to them. In being more like the Internet, they should see themselves as a single part of a giant network as opposed to being the center of the universe. This orientation is a great way to think about communities of customers, where they participate and why.

All-in-all a good time. Flickr group is here.

Photo credit: Aaron Gustafson