Disclaimer: It occurred to me as I was wondering if I needed to pack my own lunch, that I had never, until late last week, been to an actual real life conference. This means I have nothing to compare Webstock to, though anecdotal evidence suggests that most conferences struggle to contain their participants whereas Webstock cant seem to get rid of them :)
I have always hesitated to go to Webstock. Years in the Wellington tech community has led me to believe I already am aware of the movers and shakers and already interact with the people I really respect. I sort of thought another back patting love fest might be a little too incestuous for me (arrogant, I know, but Ive been to a fair few… Probably the downside of living in a small city)
The cost was also prohibitive. I have customers all over the world, the $1k surely would be better spent heading their way and drumming up more? Or if I need a mental break, that would go a longway towards martinis on a tropical beach somewhere.
So, you could say, I was a hard sell.
But given my recent state of mind, I figured I should stop treating Webstock like an either/or and just go.
And it was nothing like what I expected. I probably should have realised that after there was some ’email issue’ that resulted in the whole community not only getting a bunch of internal information, but in the entire community blacking out any mention of what it might be. About the most unusual sight on the internet.
Im not really sure how to explain the sense of joy and motivation that settled over me as one of my idols Kathy Sierra took to the stage. From there, the mass of 850 people and 900 Apple gadgets were taken from refugee camps in South Africa, to the store room at Zappos. We faced our own mortality, and questioned everything from the big decisions around how to live a meaningful life to how to prioritise an inbox. We were amazed at the map of tweets following the earthquake in Japan, and shocked at the reality of how much of our information could be lost forever if the website we entrust with it, folds.
The funny thing is, as much as I’m sure Ive convinced at least half a dozen people to go next year, Im unconvinced Webstock actually NEEDS anyone else – the conference sounds like it’s sold out year after year.
But if you do get in early enough, it’s well worth going to – even if you have to fly across the world to get here. From what I hear, some of the speakers even want to come back, just to participate.