Category Archives: Events

IndieWebCamp Austin wrap-up

Over the weekend we hosted the first IndieWebCamp in Austin. I’m really happy with the way the event came together. I learned a lot in helping plan it, made a few mistakes that we can improve next time, but overall came away as inspired as ever to keep improving Micro.blog so that it’s a standout platform of the IndieWeb movement.

There’s nothing like meeting in person with other members of the community. I know this from attending Apple developer conferences, but the weekend in Austin only underscored that I should be more active in the larger web community as well.

IndieWebCamp group photo

The first day of IndieWebCamp started with introductions, a chance for attendees to demo their web sites, an overview of IndieWeb building blocks by Aaron Parecki, and then brainstorming what topics the afternoon sessions should cover. After lunch, we held sessions on WordPress, static sites, Micropub posts, Webmentions, payment APIs, audio, decentralized aggregation, and post kinds.

The second day was a hack day, with a chance to work on our own web sites. This was a very valuable day for me — being able to bounce ideas or questions off other attendees. I chose to make an improvement to Micro.blog’s Micropub API endpoint to accept “bookmark-of” POSTs, mapping them to favorites. This evolved into opening up Micro.blog to allow favoriting any URL, even if the post doesn’t exist in any feed that Micro.blog knows about yet.

At the end of the day I was happy enough with the feature that I deployed my code and database changes. I demoed it using Indigenous for iPhone and Micro.blog for Mac, favoriting an indiewebcat.com post on the web and watching it show up in the app under the post’s domain name. Micro.blog got better support for Microformats with this change, pulling the author info, post text, and photo when you favorite a post via Micropub.

Mac screenshot

For the last few years I’ve attended WWDC and Release Notes each year, and I’d usually give a talk at CocoaConf. This year I added WordCamp and IndieWebCamp, and gave a talk about indie microblogging at Refresh Austin. I hope that it works out to attend another IndieWebCamp or IndieWebSummit in 2018.

Special thanks again to Tom Brown for helping out with planning IndieWebCamp Austin, EFF-Austin for hosting their holiday party after our event, and our sponsors DreamHost, Polycot Associates, and SuperBorrowNet. We should do this again next year.

EFF-Austin party after IndieWebCamp

In a little less than 2 weeks we’re holding the first IndieWebCamp in Austin: December 9th and 10th at Capital Factory. You can register here. Doors open at 9am and we’ll have coffee and breakfast tacos while everyone checks in.

Saturday night after IndieWebCamp will be the EFF-Austin Holiday Party. There’s a meetup page to RSVP for the party. Even if you can’t attend IndieWebCamp for the full weekend, you’re welcome to join us anytime Saturday and stick around for the party. (Please register for both so we can better plan for the event.)

Who should attend IndieWebCamp? Anyone who cares about the independent web. Anyone who remembers how the web used to be — the creativity of personal web sites, the freedom of open APIs — and how it could be that way again. From the event web site:

IndieWebCamp Austin 2017 is a gathering for independent web creators of all kinds, from graphic artists, to designers, UX engineers, coders, hackers, to share ideas, actively work on creating for their own personal websites, and build upon each others creations.

I hope you can make it. If you have any questions, email me at manton@micro.blog.

San Jose is less crowded

On Core Intuition last week, I said San Jose was “more confined” than San Francisco. I meant that mostly as a good thing, although I do miss the open spaces in San Francisco: the parks and incredible views near the water. Gus Mueller has a post about how San Jose felt closer together and less crowded:

In San Jose you had a clear view of the sidewalks and you generally knew who was a developer and who was a local. And because it wasn’t so crowded, you ran into people all the time. You didn’t have to organize meetups, you just kind of went out and you knew you’d run into someone to hang with.

Gus was also a guest with Marco Arment on The Run Loop podcast. They talked a lot about the different feel of WWDC in San Jose. Seems a universal opinion that San Jose is a good fit.

WWDC moves back to San Jose

I have a tradition when I go to San Francisco for WWDC. I arrive early on Sunday before the conference, drop my bags at the hotel, and take a cab to the Presidio. The weather is usually beautiful. I visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, maybe sit in the grass with a coffee, then go for a walk to take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve done this the last handful of years. It’s always a perfect reset to whatever stress was happening with my own coding projects and business. You can find blog posts and tweets from past years.

I attended WWDC in San Jose a few times. Moving WWDC back there will probably end up being fine. If you’re at the convention center, or hanging out with attendees at a restaurant, or taking a break to work at a coffee shop around the corner, or even going to a party — many cities will suffice for that. I’m sure the conference will be great.

I’ll still miss San Francisco. I know it’s not a perfect city. But it’s historic and unique. That’s why I recorded a podcast episode about it over 10 years ago, and I’ve learned much more since. I always get something out of the trip.

Only taking my iPad Pro to WWDC

I’ll be in San Francisco for WWDC, although as usual in recent years I won’t be staying all week. While out there I’ll be attending AltConf and other events, recording a podcast or two, and catching up on some writing.

I probably should take my MacBook Pro to code on projects, but I never have time. And I’ve been working so much lately, I probably need a break from Xcode for a few days. So I’m going to travel light this time and only take my iPad Pro with me.

I used my iPad Pro often when working from coffee shops and libraries earlier this year. I think I have a pretty good sense of what I’m productive with on it. iPhone and Mac app coding is out, but email, chat, writing blog posts, and even light web site maintenance are all fine, and those are the kind of things I do while traveling.

That leaves podcast recording as the only question mark, but actually I’ve recorded every episode of Timetable using my iPhone specifically so that I could get used to recording away from my office. I wrote a few months ago about my microphone for Timetable. I’ll do the same thing when Daniel and I record our WWDC thoughts after the keynote, with editing on the iPad Pro.

I’m excited about the conference. I’m looking forward to catching up with folks, the news from Apple, and — because I won’t even have my laptop — a bit of a break from the stress of thinking I should be programming.

Don’t give up on WWDC

There’s a nice sale going on across several smaller, regional developer conferences right now. I think any of these conferences would be a great experience, so if you’re considering one you could save $100 by acting now.

I wanted to comment on something Joe Cieplinski said about WWDC while linking to this promotion:

Folks say that WWDC is the one time where everyone in our community can get together, but frankly, the price of hotels in San Francisco has made that statement a bit disingenuous. Many—if not most—of us can’t afford to make it to this party, so maybe this is no longer the party for “everyone.”

Curtis Herbert also echoed some of these themes in a post:

While it’s a shame to end the WWDC tradition, it makes sense to follow all the other technical communities out there and rely on smaller, more accessible and distributed, community-run conferences throughout the year. It’s a sign that our community growing up and leaving the nest. One city can’t hold us all anymore.

I think it’s possible to go out to WWDC without spending a fortune. You can attend AltConf, find an Airbnb room for $150/night, and stay a few days instead of all week. I downgraded my expectations for WWDC and booked a cheaper hotel room a couple of months ago. It’s about how much you want to be there.

In fact, I’d still argue that it’s less expensive to “attend” WWDC now because it has been proven how much you can get out of AltConf and other events without the $1600 conference ticket. When I went to my first WWDC back when it was held in San Jose (and the same could be said for the early years in San Francisco), hotels and flights were cheaper but it was pointless to attend without a ticket.

I can’t go to every conference. This year I’ve picked 2: WWDC (probably without a ticket) and Release Notes (in September). I wrote about Release Notes last year and highly recommend it again.

But I stand by the opinion that WWDC is worth preserving as the best place for everyone to go — with or without a ticket, with or without a fancy hotel room — because there’s room for thousands of more developers than at a small conference. I hope that Apple’s change of venue for the keynote and Monday sessions means they are trying to expand the conference to even more developers.

I’m so excited about Monday’s new venue that I’m actually thinking about trying to get a ticket in the lottery, to experience what it’s like and what it means for the conference going forward. The main thing holding me back is that it seems wasteful if I’m not staying through Friday, when another developer — maybe someone who hasn’t attended before — could get that ticket instead.

Tickets for Release Notes 2016

I’m registered for the Release Notes conference, coming up later this year in Indianapolis. This will be the only conference I attend this year outside of another ticketless WWDC week. If you didn’t go last year and want to know more about it, check out the web site or listen to episode 151 of their podcast.

One of my favorite blog posts on this site from last year was my review of the conference, because I think it both described the conference itself and also captured that inspired feeling you get when you’re heading off to the airport and your head is buzzing with ideas. And because it’s a blog, where I allow myself to be informal, it also has the meandering narrative of the everyday — a stop for coffee, a conversation with an Uber driver. My memory of the conference wouldn’t be complete without those things.

I’m looking forward to visiting Indianapolis again. I may also look at flying into Chicago and taking the train down, then flying out. Sounds like some people did that last year, and I think it would make a great start considering the venue at Union Station. We’ll see if the schedule works out.

Sound Off and AlterConf

When I blogged about Brent Simmons’s list of women bloggers, I said that we need more diversity in what we read. That will naturally lead to more diversity in other areas, such as conferences.

But not everyone can easily get access to conferences or take advantage of everything they offer. Sound Off is trying to help with that, through efforts like funding for sign language interpreters, child care, and scholarships. Gus Mueller, also with a quote from Brent, says it well:

“Sound Off has some very worthy, and very realistic goals. And as Brent Simmons says, people of the future will look back and judge us for how well or poorly we expanded our tribe.”

And Ashley Nelson-Hornstein adds this:

“Sharing the sentiment that it’s important to create more opportunities for marginalized people in technology is great. Retweeting the voices of the marginalized to amplify them to your networks is fantastic. But the best way to drive change is with dollars and cents.”

I’m a little late linking to Sound Off, but it’s a good cause that needs our support. You can learn more here.

Release Notes 2015

The best blog posts we write are as much for ourselves as for our readers. That’s one of the traits that makes personal blogging so special.

I published my essay last week from the hotel at Release Notes, right before heading downstairs as the conference got underway. Almost no one had read it yet, but the essay still helped me because it made me even more aware of when I accidentally monopolized a conversation. I did end up talking a lot about my new project while at Release Notes, but I also caught myself many times, making sure to turn the conversation around and listen.

And there was plenty to hear at Release Notes. I got something out of every talk and from many conversations with developers who I had never met before. Congratulations to Charles and Joe for putting together a great conference.

Highlights for me included Myke Hurley’s opening talk on Wednesday night about quitting his job and the first full-time year of Relay FM; Rob Rhyne’s fantastic whirlwind tour of accounting, which scared me a little because of everything I still don’t know about being independent; Jean MacDonald’s talk about podcast sponsorships and the fundraiser for App Camp for Girls; Pieter Omvlee’s advice on aiming to build a bigger business; and David Smith’s talk, which I’ll get to later. I could pull out lessons from each of these talks as well as the others from Rachel Andrew, Georgia Dow, John Saddington, Chris Liscio, Daniel Pasco, and Jim Dalrymple.

Thursday night was the “dine around”, a clever idea to split attendees into groups of about a dozen people, each meeting for dinner at an assigned restaurant. It’s easy to fall into cliques at conferences. This was a great solution to mixing it up, all but guaranteeing that you’ll meet someone new.

It’s worth saying something about the venue. Converted from the Indianapolis Union Station, which was built in 1853, the conference center and hotel served as a beautiful backdrop to the conference. My hotel room was even made from an old train car. As we left the conference center late Friday afternoon, I took another look up at the vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows, making a mental note to read more about the history of the original train station.

On Saturday I checked out of the hotel, walked up to Bee Coffee Roasters (where I ran into a couple other attendees who were also still processing everything we learned at the conference), and then took an Uber to the airport. My driver was a musician; he had toured the country playing with bands, was working on a soundtrack which he played on CD for me, and had such an optimistic take on the world that it struck me in obvious contrast to the negativity we see online sometimes.

And he said something that stayed with me even longer while I waited at airport security and for my flight to board. He said that everything he had wanted to do in life, he had done. Sure, he’d love to tour with another band, he’d love to find success with his new music. But already he was content. He laughed when he said he could die happy, and he was not old.

David Smith mentioned in his talk at Release Notes that he used to want to do everything. Have a best selling app, win a design award, be admired by his peers, and other goals that many of us share. It was only when he set out with a more singular focus — judging every decision by whether it moved his business forward so he could continue to support his family — that all the other secondary goals started taking care of themselves as well. It was a great talk and something I needed to hear.

As a community we’re ambitious. We want to build something amazing and we want to make a positive impact on the world. But this week was also a reminder to me that it’s okay to be more focused, to tackle niche vertical apps, or make small boring decisions that will help our business. It’s okay, even as we want to do more, to slow down and be proud and content with the path that we’re on.

NeXTEVNT and Song of the Sea

WWDC 2015 now feels like it took place in the distant past, not a month ago. For the last few years I’ve attended the NeXT-themed fundraiser for the Cartoon Art Museum, and this year there’s video from the event. Check it out for a view into the museum and some of the talks.

It’s always a highlight of the week for me to visit both the Cartoon Art Museum and the Walt Disney Family Museum. This year Cartoon Art had pre-production drawings and paintings from the hand-drawn film Song of the Sea, one of my favorite films of the year. Really beautiful stuff.

WWDC 2015, basketball, and cartoons

Throughout the week I posted about WWDC to my microblog, but I thought I’d write a longer post with the week’s narrative. It’s useful to have these to refer to in the future when all the WWDCs blur together and I’ve forgotten which event was which. Where it adds any details I’ll link to a few of the shorter posts.

So let’s go back to Sunday morning a week ago when I arrived in San Francisco, ticketless but ready to learn and meet up with friends. What a great day. First burritos and coffee in the Mission, then to Oakland for the NBA finals, game 2. I had signed up on the Golden State Warriors mailing list a couple weeks earlier to get in on the pre-sale tickets. Excepting the nearby San Antonio Spurs, I’m almost never going to just coincidentally be in the same city as an NBA finals game. I couldn’t let that chance slip by.

Golden State Warriors

And it was an amazing game. Outwardly I was rooting for the Warriors — high fives to fans when the team came back to force overtime, wearing my new yellow shirt they gave everyone at the game. But inwardly I was also marveling at LeBron’s dominance and happy to see the series tied up. I want to see this thing go to 7 games.

Monday was the keynote and later the Cartoon Art Museum / NeXT fundraiser, with beautiful art on the wall from one of my favorite films this year, Song of the Sea. Tuesday I tried to catch up on some code at Sightglass Coffee, watch sessions at WeWork, and installed the iOS 9 beta on my retina iPad Mini. In the evening on this day and others there were parties, though I only attended a few.

The Talk Show

The Talk Show live with guest Phil Schiller was a great surprise. I’m so happy for John and his success. Developers who have only known Daring Fireball after it was already fairly popular may need this important reminder: John Gruber started a dozen years ago with a blog that no one read, just like the rest of us, and this week he conducted the best interview of a senior Apple executive I’ve ever seen. If you think it’s enough to just throw random quips to Twitter, it’s not enough. Blogging is still the best way to build an audience. (Don’t miss Marco’s post about the event and what it means for the new Apple.)

I have very little to complain to Apple about this year. Maybe the keynote was a little long, but the topics they hit and the new user features and APIs were exactly right. I’ve got Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan installed and will require it for my next Mac app.

Golden State Bridge

Toward the middle of the week I wasn’t feeling particularly great — not sick, but not really upbeat enough to get excited about new APIs. I escaped the city for the afternoon on Wednesday, visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum and then walking down to Crissy Field toward the Golden Gate Bridge. I stretched my arms out wide to catch the wind and felt refreshed in a way that the stagnant weather back in Austin this time of year can’t hope to provide. I remember this tweet from 2012 and it’s always true again, year after year.

Thursday morning I caught a session at AltConf before heading to the airport. Flights were delayed out of SFO because of fog, so it was 3 hours waiting in San Francisco, and another 3 hours waiting in Phoenix after a missed connection. But it’s all good. WWDC was a little weird for me — not because of anything Apple did, just because I was a little wistful, and distracted by email and non-WWDC happenings too.

Nevertheless I’m inspired by the week. The success of both AltConf and now Layers, not to mention all the other smaller events and keynote watch parties, point to a very strong WWDC for years to come.

Conferences in cool places

Last week my Instagram timeline included a bunch of really beautiful photos from folks in Ireland for Úll. Jason Snell writes about the conference:

“The location, in Killarney in county Kerry, is spectacular. It’s rainy and windy and the different patterns on the surface of the lake right outside the hotel are beautiful to watch.”

There were a lot of neat ideas for Úll that I bet made it special, including a kids track and the train ride. I’m a sucker for anything train related, for example the train car hotel rooms in the upcoming Release Notes conference venue.

These special touches transform a conference into half work, half vacation. Every technical thing you might want to learn is on the internet these days anyway. Conferences should be about inspiration as much as anything else, and a great setting is part of that.

Here’s Jason again, writing about the national park location for Yosemite CocoaConf:

“As I just experienced at Úll in Ireland, these sorts of conferences are truly special. It’s a chance for a small group of people who share an interest in Apple and related technologies to spend a few days together. They’re always a blast, but add in the unique setting of Yosemite National Park and this one promises to be that much more amazing.”

I’m sorry to miss that one. For the last several years I’ve mostly fallen into a pattern of traveling to attend just one non-WWDC conference a year. This year I’ll be speaking at CocoaConf in Austin and hope to make Release Notes as well. Tickets for CocoaConf are on sale now, and Release Notes tickets should be announced soon.

Very busy (and the watch)

Yesterday this weblog turned 13 years old. I don’t usually miss the anniversary; it’s a nice time to reflect on what I’m writing about here. But I’ve been incredibly busy this year, working on a range of things from real work to side projects to family stuff.

Over the weekend I also helped out at the annual STAPLE! comics show in Austin. This is always a great time to check out what independent artists are up to, and as usual I came away inspired to get back into drawing.

I’ll have a longer write-up about yesterday’s Apple event soon. I have a very negative opinion about the $10k Apple Watch Edition — not because it’s expensive, but because of what focusing on the super rich says about Apple’s priorities. Daniel and I talked about this at length on Core Intuition episode 174 a couple weeks ago.

Overall the event was great, though. I’m looking forward to pre-ordering a watch and getting into development. Leaning toward the 42mm Sport, with blue band and an extra classic buckle.

The third era of WWDC

“This is it,” a friend said to me as we were walking up Market Street with other developers, late at night as WWDC was winding down several years ago. The iPhone had hit. The conference was getting bigger. Apple was on the verge of becoming a giant in the industry and you could feel it in the air — a coming change that was obvious only from a distance because it disappeared as you reached for it, like San Francisco fog rolling over the bay. “This is the height of the conference and it’s never going to be like this again.”

Looking back it perfectly captured what I think of as the second “era” of WWDC. It was a kind of golden age for Mac and iOS developers, with a new generation of successful Mac indies and before the iOS race to the bottom was much past the starting line.

From my perspective, learning Mac development in the mid 90s, there are three distinct eras of Apple’s WWDC. My first WWDCs were at the San Jose Convention Center. The developer base was small enough that you consistently ran into everyone, companies like Metrowerks and even Adobe seemed to have an influence on the conference, and Apple frequently showed off new APIs that might not actually ship soon or ever. It was an exciting time to be a Mac developer but the rest of the world didn’t care. This was the backdrop for the failed Copland project, for Steve Jobs coming back, for the clash between Carbon and Cocoa, and the acceptance of Mac OS X.

The next era was at the move to San Francisco. The conference was getting bigger but Apple attempted to keep the events and themes that made WWDC the same, even for a while busing attendees to the beer bash in Cupertino. This is the time when the iPhone SDK arrived and the conference exploded. I think most developers will always look back at this time as something amazing. It’s the backdrop for that walk up Market Street and a dozen similar conversations.

Now we’re in the third modern era of WWDC, with one undeniable characteristic: a small percentage of developers can get a ticket to the conference. The community, however, is as strong as ever, and there’s still a desire to have WWDC be that “one place” that developers can meet each year. It’s a need that smaller, regional conferences, no matter how important they are, just can’t fill.

I like this post from James Dempsey because it starts with the assumption that not getting a WWDC ticket is the new normal:

“Once something changes from being dependably available to rarely available, you begin to form alternate plans and take alternate paths.”

He’s right. Since it’s likely that Apple will continue to iterate slowly instead of making major changes to grow the conference, we’re better off adapting. By adapting we can focus on preserving the community aspects of WWDC that are arguably just as important as the technical tracks.

And change comes slowly to WWDC. I realized while watching (https://developer.apple.com/tech-talks/videos/) recently that Apple just doesn’t see a big problem. John Geleynse described a situation where only one person from a team is at WWDC; the rest of the company is back at the office watching videos and sending questions to their coworker at the conference to ask in the labs. Getting videos out the same day makes the conference more useful for both those without a ticket and actual attendees (and their team) too.

(I still have complaints about how WWDC tickets are distributed and why Apple doesn’t attempt to grow the conference a little more, but the lottery is an improvement over last year. See Core Intuition episodes 132 and 133 for a full discussion.)

I’ll be in San Francisco for a few days next week — at AltConf, at the Cartoon Art Museum fundraiser, catching up on session videos, waiting in line for coffee, hiding in my hotel room writing code, and getting some good food and drink with fellow developers. WWDC means something different now, but it matters just as much as it always has. Hope to see you there.

Brent’s time at Userland

Brent Simmons has another expanded résumé of sorts, following his post about working at NewsGator. I love this write-up because it mirrors a lot of the work I was doing, so it brings back a lot of memories. I was actively using Frontier for client work and crazy side projects; one of my co-workers for a time was Mason Hale, who built an early CGI framework for Frontier; and I loosely worked with Dave Winer to help run the frontier-talk mailing list and hack on a potential WebSTAR plug-in for Frontier. (Though I was still a pretty poor C programmer back then. Someone else ended up shipping it.)

Back when the job description “webmaster” still meant something, I worked for the WebEdge conference which brought together the best web developers for the Mac OS. WebEdge hosted the first meeting of the Macintosh Internet Developer Association (MIDAS), led in part by Dave Winer. And I was always playing with the tools that came out of Userland, from Manilla to Radio Userland. I used Radio to run this blog until 2004.

Some of the developers from that time have faded away, moved on to other projects away from the public spotlight. But not Brent. He just shipped Vesper 2.0 and it’s some of his best work.

Your name

Found via Shawn Blanc, CJ Chilvers writes about the reputation of photographers:

“I look at their blogs and the consideration given to advertisers over readers. I look at their Twitter feeds that have become broadcasts, rather than conversations. I look at their Instagram feeds and see a stream of consciousness, instead of considered examples of the work that makes them proud.”

It reminds me of one of my favorite parts of Christina Warren’s talk at this year’s Çingleton, where she told the story of turning down work she wouldn’t be proud of, even though she was still struggling as a professional writer. That your reputation will outlast your current job or project:

“If I give up my name — which I’m starting to build and people are starting to respect — by doing stuff like this, what does that mean? I can’t ever live this down. All I have is my name.”

Christina Warren at Cingleton 3

Daniel Jalkut and I talked more about the general themes of Çingleton a couple months ago, on Core Intuition episode 110.

CocoaConf and Core Intuition 83

We just posted episode 83 of Core Intuition, with a preview of my trip up to Dallas for CocoaConf this weekend, and a discussion of Safari extensions, WWDC videos, Michael Jurewitz’s blog posts, his return to Apple, and more.

It looks like you can still attend CocoaConf if you grab a ticket today before they close registration. Check out the web site for details on the Dallas event.

iPad 1 release day

Shawn Blanc looks back to a post 3 years ago about his experience buying and using the first iPad. From waiting in line:

7:32 am: A young guy and his mom get in line behind us. The guy is wearing a ‘WWSJD’ t-shirt. I like to think that I’m less nerdy than he is, but the fact is I am ahead of him in line.”

I wish I had written so many detailed notes. I did, however, find an old draft blog post with my current list of apps from back then. Here’s what I was running on my first iPad in early April, 2010:

  • Twitterrific.

  • NetNewsWire.

  • Instapaper.

  • Freeform.

  • Sketchbook Pro.

  • Pages.

  • OmniGraffle.

And free apps:

  • AIM.

  • iBooks.

  • Kindle.

  • Netflix.

  • New York Times Editors’ Choice.

And a couple games, like Flight Control HD.

Of those paid apps, I’m only still routinely using Instapaper today, and — even though I’m not on Twitter — occasionally Twitterrific. NetNewsWire for iPad in particular held up very well; I used it every day for probably 2 years after it had stopped being updated.

Most of the apps that were released for the iPad’s debut were more mature than apps from the iPhone OS 2.0 release and first App Store. By the time the iPad came along, developers seemed to have gotten the hang of the platform.

SXSW 2012 and Twitter API innovation

The short version of this post is: “please vote for my SXSW talk”:http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11867, which I’ve proposed with David Barnard of App Cubby. If selected, we’ll be talking about how to innovate on top of Twitter, using examples from the history of Twitter apps in the App Store including Tweet Marker, Tweet Library, and David’s upcoming app Tweet Speaker. Equal parts business and APIs, I hope it’ll capture how much we can still do if we think beyond the Twitter basics.

The longer story is that SXSW is always changing. I started this blog on the first day of SXSW 2002, when the conference was just a few rooms in a single hallway, and I’ve seen it grow to more than a few venues spread across downtown Austin and even farther out. That’s okay. There’s a place for small events, as SXSW once was, and there’s a place for the event where the blogging, design, social network, and software folks can meet in one place.

Take the Mac and iOS development world. This year alone has NSConference, Voices That Matter, 360|iDev, 360|MacDev, CocoaConf, MacTech, Çingleton, and SecondConf. These attract developers from all over the country, but most people can attend one at most, and many events are regional conferences at heart.

We need WWDC as the single place. No matter how great the smaller conferences are, WWDC is the big one, the one you don’t miss. And so it is with SXSW.

I believe SXSW 2012 is going to be fascinating to watch. A couple years past when everyone already thought it was too big, 2012 could see real turnover. Some previous attendees will skip it, and many new people will speak for the first time. I want to see that conference, to find out what its themes and focus will be, and hopefully “our talk”:http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11867 can be part of it.

WWDC 2011 keynote: diversify

This year’s WWDC keynote was one of the most significant of the last few years. Twitter integration and iCloud were the highlights for me, although at the end of the week I’m still not sure when or how I’ll be able to use either. But I love that it was a software-only event — that’s how WWDC should be — and I love that there were major new features on both of Apple’s platforms.

A few of the announcements seemed to have significant overlap (if not direct competition) with third-party developers, in particular Instapaper, Camera+, and the dozens of to-do list apps in the store. You can see some of that live reaction in a “collection of tweets”:http://tweetlibrary.com/manton/wwdc2011 I put together at the conference.

My first thought for Marco Arment was that he should come out with a new product. Not because I’m worried about Instapaper, but just because I’d love to see what he’d build next. “Marco is still upbeat on Instapaper’s chances”:http://www.marco.org/2011/06/06/safari-reader-and-instapaper for continued success:

“If Reading List gets widely adopted and millions of people start saving pages for later reading, a portion of those people will be interested in upgrading to a dedicated, deluxe app and service to serve their needs better. And they’ll quickly find Instapaper in the App Store.”

Yet here’s Dave Winer, “reflecting on when Apple competed with his product”:http://scripting.com/stories/2011/06/06/anotherGreatSboringsLovely.html:

“I think the answer is to find meaning in your work independent of what happens with the fickleness of the platform vendor and its developers. I went on to take the same software that Apple crushed and turned it into blogging, RSS, podcasting, web APIs, all kinds of cool stuff. And yes it did eventually make me a bunch of money. But not the way everyone thought it would.”

As Dave used to say, zig where they zag. Find the unique value in the apps you build and spin those out as separate products or use as inspiration for new features. Daniel and I have talked about this on Core Intuition: pull your app’s strength into a competition advantage by reusing code and adding more depth than anyone starting from scratch.

By playing to your strengths, you can do more, faster. Every indie Mac and iOS developer should be thinking about a suite of products.

“Justin Williams hits this”:http://carpeaqua.com/2011/06/07/the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-of-wwdc/ in the context of WWDC:

“Some people grow frustrated by Apple continually making inroads in existing developer’s territory, but it comes with being a part of the platform. The key is to ensure your product lineup is diverse enough that you can survive taking the blow Apple may offer at the next keynote.”

You should make the choice to diversify before you’re forced to make it, because WWDC is already a full year of choices rolled up into one week. Dropbox/Simplenote and iCloud, OAuth and Twitter.framework, iOS 4 and 5, Retain/Release and ARC. Like the “Persians deliberating while both drunk and sober”:http://skepticalphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/09/persian-strategy-deliberating-while.html (“via Buzz Andersen”:http://twitter.com/buzz/status/76502320514465793), if you make any real decisions during WWDC’s info intoxication, make them again a week later.

Marco has a clear advantage over his new competition, though, regardless of whether he creates new products or sticks with Instapaper. “Send to Instapaper” is built into every great Twitter app and newsreader. It took years to build such widespread integration, and it won’t be easy (even for Apple) to be on equal footing with such a well-loved and established brand.