A few hundred technologists from Minnesota and beyond turned out today at the U of M CECC to experience MinneWebCon — the 5th annual gathering for web, mobile, social, and design professionals.
Organized by a dedicated team of local volunteers, the event is known for big name keynotes, a strong female to male ratio, diversity and depth of content. After attending the past three years, safe to say the standard has again been raised.
User experience pro from New York Whitney Hess kicked things off with her methodical take on research, design and problem solving before the track matrix opened up to niches ranging from the concrete (CSS3, UI, HTML5, etc.) to the abstract (change, strategy, communications, etc.). Overall, the crowdsourced breakout sessions made for a healthy blend of practicality and relevancy.
Like many Minnesota tech events lately, MinneWebCon has grown to span two days this time around as tomorrow’s sold out workshops will offer a deep dive into aspects such as web standards, usability research, and jQuery.
Highlight of the day (beef tenderloin & wild rice aside) was hands down the afternoon keynote by John Moe, host of APM’s Marketplace Tech Report. “And so within the glimpse of time I have every day is to take one big picture tech item and cram it into 4 minutes, then move on to something completely different…but it all comes back to spectrum.”
“I want to make things simple and clear enough so that my 78 year old mother can understand them,” he says in describing the shows radio audience, “but they’re also smart, so it’s always a challenge,” he admits, breaking down the science and history of this fundamental technology we take for granted into under an hour.
Moe’s theater background and radio personality shined as he pulled the crowd in through his equally humorous as serious transitions over and over again, eventually comparing the national spectrum crunch to a mega mall that cannot sell enough cinnamon rolls to feed the demands of its gluttonous customers.
“Everyone is piling on. It’s exponential. It’s scary. It’s the least discussed topic in the pop-tech world, but one that I feel is the most important. You simply cannot make more spectrum…there isn’t any. They’re like the Beatles…George, of course, is Sprint and Ringo is like T-Mobile…I don’t think I need to explain the rest. This is a golden age…we’ve had this big spectrum party, but it’s going to come to an end before we know it.”
And he’s totally accurate — spectrum is a snowballing issue that doesn’t get enough attention in the shadows of the mainstream tech hype circles; his afternoon oration was without a doubt the darkest most lighthearted take you’ll catch on the matter. How refreshing it is to hear such high level matters addressed by a local voice. It’s topics like this that returning attendees have come to expect from MinneWebCon, a testament to the delivery of consistent quality year over year.