2014 — 2016

The Web is... People

Posted on by Zac

Last week we went to The Web Is, a web conference celebrating 25 years of the WWW.

The event is hosted in Cardiff, so Peter and I took the train from Fratton. A 3+ hour journey but no changes so it’s not bad. We met my brother, Nick there. 'station' emoji

Day 0 Wednesday

We arrived and checked in to our hotel. 'hotel' emoji There was a pre-conf meet up at the Founder’s Hub for some tabletop games. That was cool, a few web people huddled to play Snake Oil which was similar to Cards Against Humanity but less horrible. After that we walked over to a local pub called the Urban Tap House. 'beers' emoji

Turns out it’s a place for craft beer nerds. We don’t know a lot about beers so the barkeep ended up pouring shots of different ones while we pretended we could tell difference between them. Then we chilled with some more cool cats there. 'smile_cat' emoji

Day 1 Thursday

All the talks were themed by the name of the conference. The web is…

’… knowledge’ Chris Murphy @fehler

My twin brother and I are both doing web jobs. 'sunglasses' emoji

What’s interesting is I went to Uni to study whereas he started an apprenticeship at a local company. I’m glad I came to University, and I’ve tried to make the most of the opportunities but I don’t think the degree is worth anything on paper.

Chris touched on this and stressed the importance of encouraging people to believe in themselves. He also reaffirmed the very slow pace of the Uni curriculum, often being 5+ years behind industry, yeah… 'older_man' emoji

’… everywhere’ Anna Debenham @anna_debenham

Really enjoyed this talk, Anna talked about game console browsers. I think the main question was: Who uses these devices to browse anyway?

It’s a surprising amount and we shouldn’t discount a browser or device just because we don’t use it. Should always consider the target audience for a product.

… Annnnd this is a good excuse to get some more consoles in the office. 'wink' emoji

Anna has a game console browsers site with her findings if you’re interested.

’… in the hands of the 97ers’ Emma Mulqueeny @hubmum

“97ers” are people born in 1997 and have always had social media in their lives.

Emma talked about how Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Snapchat etc. are a key part of their identities and should be taken into consideration when designing and building services in the future. 'alien' emoji

She talked about how they’re discussing bringing voting processes online to encourage them to vote.

’… a discussion’ Andy Clarke @Malarkey with guests

Mental health is something that’s affected both Peter and I.

Andy invited Chris Murphy (who spoke the day before), Cole Henley, Relly Annett-Baker and Dr. Clare Symons to chat about mental health, in and around the industry.

It’s good to see it’s being talked about but Clare noted that it isn’t a industry specific problem. It’s everywhere. 1 in 4 in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year.

She did point out that we can spend a lot of time in isolation so that is a potential problem.

Talking is often easier with people you feel you can relate to, so I think it’s important that we have issues like this being discussed in groups we’re already apart of.


We went to a place called the Live Lounge for a bit of an after party.

Ended up hanging out with some hackbmth & hacksoton people talking about hackpompey and the future of the south tech scene…

Legit web stuff of course. 'sweat_smile' emoji

Day 2 Friday

Friday was Halloween so I customised my lanyard for extra spooks. 'jack_o_lantern' emoji 'ghost' emoji These were designed by Portsmouth regular Dan Edwards which is cool to see!

’… like water’ Scott Jenson @scottjenson

The experimental Physical Web device

One of the problems with iBeacons is you need to download an app for every single place they’re used. Scott talked about a solution, under the “Physical Web”, using the web instead of apps.

He gave out small experimental devices that send out URLs via low-power Bluetooth. The idea being the URL can do many things from as simple as taking you to a website or it could be linked to payment (using PayPal or Stripe possibly).

Adam over at Etch wrote some good stuff on this if you want to know more.

’… a great big playground’ Seb Lee-Delisle @seb_ly

Lazers were the main point of Seb’s talk… I think. 'rotating_light' emoji

He also makes art seem accessible to coders, which is cool because most people tell themselves they’re not creative. He reminded me of the work that Kawandeep Virdee has been doing in America.

Gave me a good dose of inspiration to actually finish some of my pet projects.

’… still young’ Benjamin Hollway @benjaminhollway

You wouldn’t have known it was Ben’s first talk.

One topic he spoke about the young people in our industry and how a lot of events aren’t tailored to under 18s. After parties are in pubs and bars that they can’t access and the only. 'underage' emoji

He wrote a blog post on this which you should read. Tech is a pretty toxic place at the moment but we’re seeing more talk, events and movements towards making it more inclusive and welcoming.

’… turning difficulties into opportunities’ Robin Christopherson @USA2DAY

Last time I saw Robin talk was at Altitude in Portsmouth, he always gives a great perspective and reinforces thinking about accessibility from the start.

“TAB"s (Temporarily Able-Bodied 'smile' emoji), need to take this more seriously. It increases usability to everyone not just those with disabilities.

As a blind person, he talked about how tech such as applications that can detect objects via the camera can help immensely for day-to-day tasks.

’… taking itself far too seriously’ Mr Bingo @Mr_Bingo

I think maybe Mr Bingo’s talk was one of my favourites.

He talked about his work and just swore a lot really. This is how Mr Bingo sees the Internet:

Mr Bingo at The web is... Picture via @SequenceAgency

He has this great project called ‘Hate Mail’, where people pay him to send them horrible postcards. 'postbox' emoji

For us this conference (and events like these in general) was all about the people, we met some really interesting and cool people. Look forward to the next one. 'blush' emoji