FOWA Miami 2009

fowa.jpg Well, the pain and suffering I went through to get myself down to the FOWA show in Miami was definitely worth it. I drove down to Miami after dinner on Monday night and stayed at the AWESOME DoubleTree Grand hotel that evening. (Thanks for the carboliscious cookie that was so not on my diet!) Up early the next morning, I scooted over to the Knight Auditorium which was a fabulous venue. The acoustics were so good in that hall that I swear I heard some guy’s muffled fart from clear across the room. (Chances are overwhelming that it was a guy – only a dozen females among the 800 or so there.) I’d love to go there sometime for a concert. Totally perfect venue.

But anyway, even though FOWA is short for “Future of Web Apps” (and although there was some mention of that here and there) this was a show about software development; how to do it better, how to get paid, what you are doing right, where you are going wrong, and just what the hell were you thinking???? This was just what I needed personally. Reminders to step back and rethink the process, measure and improve. Plus a good kick in the pants there at the end courtesy of Gary Vaynerchuk.

I really enjoyed Jason Fried and Joel Spolsky. Both were predictably great. This is the first time I’ve heard either of them speak, though I knew who Jason Fried was and I’ve been a customer of Joel Spolsky’s CityDesk and FogBugz for years. Both had great ideas for improving software development and, in fact, business processes in general for that matter. Say Joel, that “General Motors” style of organizing the developer space — that bears a striking resemblance to what I endure daily. Gotta make some changes there.

Jason, Joel and Gary were the highlights of the show for me. I enjoyed the Virgin guy’s “People are the new brand” idea. But I can’t glean anything actionable from it. (Except that I opened a FaceBook account for the first time today so maybe something stuck.)  A lot of people seemed to be very impressed with the Atlas demo by the guy from Cappuccino. To me this was a demo just like a lot I’ve seen in the past that appear to show something akin to drag and drop programming. These products demo nicely, but get them outside the confines of a demo and you start to see the drastic limitations. Then the shine comes off the apple so to speak. So color me skeptical — and I definitely do NOT think software development just changed very much. That comment by Ryan Carson was just a little over the top, in my view. But it was very good theater. And maybe I’m wrong about Atlas. Time will tell, I suppose.

I also enjoyed the demo of Ubiquity which is an wonderful FireFox plugin that definitely breaks new ground. I actually installed it a few months ago and had a play with it. It is definitely impressive. If you use FireFox you most certainly need to check this puppy out.

I wish I was better at networking and going up to strangers and introducing myself.  There was no shortage of interesting looking people to talk to. And after one of these shows I always feel a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t interact with the people more. Another one of those personal things to work on, I guess…

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