Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Webstock 2014 Offers Business Advice With Caveats

Webstock 2014 Offers Business Advice With Caveats

By Jamie Neikrie


This past week Wellington welcomed technology experts from across the world for the ninth annual Webstock conference.


As well as helping fuel Wellington’s tech surge, Webstock has been hailed as one of the premier technology conferences in the world, known for its diverse, dynamic speakers.


This years conference featured young upstarts like Hannah Donovan, tech industry rebels like Maciej Ceglowski, and veterans like graphic designer Paula Scher.


Webstock tends to focus more on the business and creative side of the industry than the technical aspects. You will never hear instructions for writing code or constructing complicated algorithms at Webstock, a style that has its detractors. At $1500 a ticket, some participants feel that they should come away with concrete information or training that would take months if they attempted to learn the material on their own.
Others feel that the tone and substance of the talks made the conference more accessible and universal to everyone in the tech industry, not just coders and programmers.


Within that framework, the conference hosted guests from across the tech spectrum, from graphic designers to music aficionados to social programmers. Scoop was lucky enough to attend the conference’s closing day, which featured out-of-the-box talks from South African electronic musician Spoek Mathambo and Tom Loosemore, who helped create the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service, which will soon serve as the blueprint for New Zealand’s government websites.


While many of the talks featured uplifting tips like “Let actions create motivation,” or “Start with something shit,” there seemed to be a dark undertone to this year’s conference.


Many of the closing day’s guests, including Ceglowski and designer Sha Hwang used their platform to offer a warning to the sold-out crowd. With the recent revelations about the United States’ metadata collection program, they offered the sentiment that the tech industry has become corrupted and co-opted. Hwang described the feeling as “a loss of innocence.”


Cegloski, among others, focused on the dark underbelly of the tech industry’s business side. Waxing nostalgically for the days when the tech industry was a plucky upstart on the fringe of the business world, Cegloski told the story of Victor Theremin, whose inventions were repeatedly stolen and used by the Russian government to spy on their enemies. The message in short: we have created a dangerous tool.


Melodramatics aside, Ceglowski is right about the industry’s success. Apple is the most valuable company in the world. Google, behind dozens of highly publicized purchases of other tech companies, just passed Exxon Mobil as the second most valuable company. Webstock, for its part, recognizes that the tech industry offers a world of wealth and power. And it embraces that fact by focusing on business and creative processes.


In 2005, when Webstock began here in Wellington, the tech industry was the upstart Ceglowski described. Since then, as the industry has flourished, so has Wellington, behind companies like Xero. There is no question that technology is a slippery slope, and that we need better laws to regulate it, to protect it from corruption. But, given the choice, would any tech insider really want to turn back the clock on the industry’s progress. Sha put it best when he said, “We are no longer looking from the outside. We already won.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Back Again: Government Approves TPP11 Mandate

The Government has approved a negotiating mandate for Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 (TPP11), which will ensure New Zealand businesses remain competitive in overseas markets.

Trade Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand will be pushing for the minimal number of changes possible to the original TPP agreement, something that the remaining TPP11 countries have agreed on. More>>

ALSO:

.

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>

ALSO:

Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>

ALSO:

Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>

ALSO:

(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election