Monday, 28 January 2008

Web 2.0 Expo, swapping Berlin for the Bay Area

I've just been booking travel and accomodation for Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. I went to the European version last year in Berlin and it was a bit of an eye opener for me. The venue was pretty poor, both location and internal, but the subjects covered struck many chords with me and work I'm engaged in.

I've spent the last few years focussing on the mobile sector, eschewing Internet and developer conferences in favour of mobile specific affairs like Mobile World Congress and Global Messaging Congress. While these conferences have been fascinating and tedious to various degrees they have always been successful in giving me time to reflect and cogitate on our services, how they fit into the mobile ecosystem and what they should become in future.

Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin made me realise that there is a lot of amazing work being carried by the darlings of the Web 2.0 world that have many parallels with the challenges we face at Esendex. By immersing myself back in to the web world as well, there was a lot that I could learn.

As we continue to grow at the phenomenal rate we have been and evolve our services we come across all sorts of scaling and performance challenges. These definitely rank in the 'nice to have' category of problem but they're no less challenging. Hearing about lessons learned by the likes of Flickr et al. can only help us decide how we continue to stay a few steps ahead of demand in the future.

These new services have also upped the ante when it comes to what an Internet service should be able to provide. Their use of AJAX and REST architectures have provided a rich user experience far beyond where, to be brutally honest, we are right at the moment.

That is changing, we have some exciting new services coming to our customers over the first half of this year that bring us bang up to date. We've spent so much time focusing on making sure our messages get through in a timely fashion we've probably taken our eye off the ball on the front end usability. So there has been a big focus in the development team on making our services richer and easier to use. Obviously I'll fill you in as soon as I can.

I suspect that the Berlin conference did suffer from being smaller than it's American parent, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it works on a bigger scale. There are also worse places to go than San Francisco, not least to get my fix of unbridled, Bay-Side, can-be-done-ness.

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