For the shortest month of the year, February managed to pack a lot in. I was away for most of the month. I had the great honour of being asked back to speak at Webstock in New Zealand this year—they even asked me to open the show!
I had no intention of going straight to New Zealand and then turning around to get on the first flight back, so I made sure to stretch the trip out (which also helps to mitigate the inevitable jet lag). Jessica and I went to Hong Kong first, stayed there for a few nights, then went on Sydney for a while (and caught up with Charlotte while we were out there), before finally making our way to Wellington. Then, after Webstock was all wrapped up, we retraced the same route in reverse. Many flat whites, dumplings, and rays of sunshine later, we arrived back in the UK.
As well as giving the opening keynote at Webstock, I did a full-day workshop, and I also ran a workshop in Hong Kong on the way back. So technically it was a work trip, but I am extremely fortunate that I get to go on adventures like this and still get to call it work.
Our perception and measurement of time has changed as our civilisation has evolved. That change has been driven by networks, from trade routes to the internet.
I was pretty happy with how it turned out. It was a 40 minute talk that was pretty evenly split between the past and the future. The first 20 minutes spanned from 5,000 years ago to the present day. The second 20 minutes looked towards the future, first in years, then decades, and eventually in millennia. I was channeling my inner James Burke for the first half and my inner Jason Scott for the second half, when I went off on a digital preservation rant.
The original URL for this prediction (www.longbets.org/601) will no longer be available in eleven years.
I made the prediction on February 22nd last year (a terrible day for New Zealand). The prediction will reach fruition on 02022-02-22 …I quite like the alliteration of that date.
Here’s how I justified the prediction:
“Cool URIs don’t change” wrote Tim Berners-Lee in 01999, but link rot is the entropy of the web. The probability of a web document surviving in its original location decreases greatly over time. I suspect that even a relatively short time period (eleven years) is too long for a resource to survive.
Well, during his excellent Webstock talk Matt announced that he would accept the challenge. He writes:
Though much of the web is ephemeral in nature, now that we have surpassed the 20 year mark since the web was created and gone through several booms and busts, technology and strategies have matured to the point where keeping a site going with a stable URI system is within reach of anyone with moderate technological knowledge.
The detailed terms of the bet have been set as follows:
On February 22nd, 2022 from 00:01 UTC until 23:59 UTC,
entering the characters http://www.longbets.org/601 into the address bar of a web browser or command line tool (like curl)
using a web browser to follow a hyperlink that points to http://www.longbets.org/601
return an HTML document that still contains the following text:
“The original URL for this prediction (www.longbets.org/601) will no longer be available in eleven years.”
I spent most of February on the far side of the world. I had the great honour and pleasure of speaking at Webstock in New Zealand.
This conference’s reputation had preceded it. I had heard from many friends who have spoken in previous years that the event is great and that the organisers really know how to treat their speakers. I can confirm that both assertions are absolutely true. Jessica and I were treated with warmth and affection, and the whole conference was a top-notch affair.
I gave a new talk called Of Time and the Network taking a long-zoom look at how our relationship with time has changed as our communications networks have become faster and faster. That’s a fairly pretentious premise but I had a lot of fun with it. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, although maybe the ending was a little weak. The video and audio should be online soon so you can judge for yourself (and I’ll be sure to get the talk transcribed and published in the articles section of this site).
Perhaps it was because I was looking for the pattern, but I found that a number of the other talks were also taking a healthy long-term view of the web. Matt’s talk in particular—Lessons from a 40 Year Old—reiterated the importance of caring for URLs.
When we build, let us think that we build forever.
Let it not be for present delight nor for present use
alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will
thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on
stone, that a time is to come when those stones
will be held sacred because our hands have
touched them, and that men will say, as they look
upon the labor and wrought substance of them,
“See! This our father did for us.”
Another recurring theme was that of craft …which is somewhat related to the theme of time (after all, craftsmanship takes time). Erin gave a lovely presentation, ostensibly on content strategy but delving deeply into the importance of craft, while Jessica, Adam and Michael gave us insights into their respective crafts of lettering and film-making.
All in all, it was a great event—although the way the schedule split into two tracks in the middle of the day led to the inevitable feelings of fomo.
It was easily the best speaking gig I’ve ever had. I’m planning on making this conference a regular visit in the future (as an attendee) and I urge anyone else (especially in America) that has yearned for a top-quality, well-run technology conference in a place you’ve always wanted to visit to do the same.
I didn’t even realise there was audio (and video!) available, but there is. Strangely though, there are no RSS feeds. That means you have to go in and manually download each presentation you want to listen to. How quaint.
It doesn’t make it very easy to get the audio from the website to your computer to your iPod. This sounds like a job for a podcast.