Notes from the #DotConf

At last weeks DotConference my brain nearly exploded with the amount of information thrown in my direction. There was talk of apps, cloud computing, user experience and accessibility, the mobile web, internet security and a lot of halibut. Some subjects – albeit very interesting – went straight over my head (cloud computing & internet security), other appealed to me greatly.

Martha Rotter/Microsoft

Martha Rotter from Microsoft explained the new tool for data management they launched, called Pivot, which allows users to control large collections of data and organize them in a very user-friendly fashion. Like Martha explained, we are all bombarded with loads and loads of data and sometimes it is hard to work through it all. The overflow of data can lead to making the wrong decisions because you might be missing essential aspects on the subject, which again can lead to loss of money or reputation. With so much information being available, Pivot should allow for quick, clean and clear compilations, therefore increasing a more correct analysis of the interpreted data. I recommend having a play around with it as it seems be utterly useful.

Most inspired I was by Mark Little and Des Traynor – as both their talks seemed to be touching base with my main interests: journalism and accessible social media, at a business level. Both of them had a similar message: stop thinking about the apps and concentrate on the entity and content.Work hard and do your research.

Mark Little/Storyful

Mark is working towards a 3rd web-wave with Storyful – which will be engaged in the process of news reporting from a users perspective. It will allow to be a platform for civil journalism but, at the same time, reduce the noise that unfortunately is so often a byproduct of it . So as the Web 2.0 “Search” grows  into Web 3.0 “Discover“, Storyful will curate the news whilst simultaneously creating a community of storytellers, who will participate in finding, telling and sharing anything to do with current affairs. It means that you and me are able to connect directly to the source and interact, participate and engage. At the moment the site is still in experimental phase – but Mark promised that very soon the first users can test the system and provide feedback. I’m looking forward to it being launched and truly hope it will work, as it closes the gap between traditional and new media, which is a void that needs to be filled, sooner rather than later.

Des Traynor/Contrast

On a similar note, Des from Contrast.ie (they make awesome apps!) spoke about the importance of BXT when creating apps, websites and social media interfaces. B for Business, X for Experience and T for Technology. All of them combined will allow for optimal user experience and he explained how you can evaluate a business by looking just at those 3 aspects. He also stressed how important it is to make a conscience choice of who you work with – even in challenging times. When you are associated with bad start-ups, it will do your reputation no good. So, you have to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Can it make money?
  2. Will people buy it?
  3. Will it work?

You might have the most beautiful interface in the world, but it does not necessarily mean your visitors will have a good experience. You need to create loyalty and and use all the assets available to you. And if you can’t, perhaps give Des a buzz…

This information was also confirmed by the girls from IQ content who have published their notes on usable language here. They go to the process of user experience combined with content strategy on 4 levels (explained in a nutshell):

  1. Information Architecture: Know you information, label it and keep it clean.
  2. Design: Your chosen wire-frame (boxes, expanding menu’s or teasers) define your type of content and will affect the volume.
  3. Analytics: Balance you SEO and check your traffic sources.
  4. Usability: Get a panel of test users who are impartial to test your software and interface.
Randall & Elizabeth/IQ Content

So, in conclusion: I learned a lot, I had fun, there was free beer & cakes and I hear there is a possibility of another edition next year. The whole event was organized perfectly – the lovely Emma & Derek from NCI should get a lot of kudos, especially considering it was all put together on a rather short-notice. I’m under the impression that all 300 (!) attendees share my opinion and the web is buzzing with positive feedback. So, here’s to DotConf 2011!

Just a quick final note:

Dotconf <Like>
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8 thoughts on “Notes from the #DotConf

  1. Sean Kinn says:

    I’m wondering if there were sidebars on how to save the newspaper industry. All newspapers would have to do is re-train staff. If individual freelance bloggers are pulling in $15K a month in AdSense advertisements, what would that do for a re-configured newspaper industry? Newspapers already have text gurus in place; it’s just a matter of instructing the writers and reporters on correct Web 2.0 Article Submission techniques, Web 2.0 Comments, SEO — in general, on how to treat their paper like a Web 2.0 Blog — to leverage the position they already have within their local communities. Heck, one person could start a Web 2.0 Newspaper in a town like Chicago and put the remaining mainstream online and paper newspapers out of business. SK

    1. sNarah says:

      Thanks for the comment Dave, you should attend next years edition if you can! I will leave Sean’s comment, albeit just a random copy/paste one, as it does make a valid point of what the future of printed media is and what place the newspaper have amongst online platforms like Storyful.

  2. Ross says:

    Great review, and great day. Was that you taking lots of notes and drawing pictures of friendly aliens? 🙂

    Also noteworthy was the MSc in Web Technologies course that the NCI were launching. That was the main reason for the connect 4, free cup cakes and beer after all!

    1. sNarah says:

      Hi Ross, thanks for dropping by! In retrospect, I should have given a little plug to the new masters program as it look very interesting! And that was me indeed, scribbling away and befriending green aliens!

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