It’s been a big year of conferences for me so far – both domestic and international. It’s been great fun – busy but fun.

I’ve been fortunate to have covered two New Zealand events for Idealog magazine. Webstock in Wellington and Web09 in Auckland. Webstock is a seasoned event, polished over the years and with significant momentum and credibility. Web09 is a new event and shows real bravery on the part of its organiser and sponsors to embark on a new event in the current climate.

A comment by the usually thoughtful Chris Keall of the NBR wound me up the other day. In a post reviewing the keynote given by Xero CEO Rod Drury, Keall decided to judge the entire event based on half an hour’s attendance on the first day of two. Keall wrote;

Incidentally there was a fantastic buzz at Web09 when I swung by this morning. The organisation is slightly rag-tag, with no audience mics or PowerPoint (yay!) but in a way that only adds to the feeling that its an event born out of the web community itself, rather than conceived by a professional organiser. (Though with 200 delegates paying up to $745 a head, it could also teach the pros a couple of commercial lessons.) If there was ever any doubt that Auckland could run an event to match Wellington’s webstock, it’s gone.

Chris, sorry but this is just poor. For a start there were PowerPoint presentations (Drury’s presentation being the sole one without) but more importantly the off-the-cuff remark comparing Web09 to Webstock is unhelpful.

From my perspective having attended both events this year I can say that Webstock was a far more polished event – this isn’t a criticism of Web09 per se – its a first year event and it would have been a miracle if it was up to Webstock levels. But beyond this it needs to be remembered, as Webstock organiser Mike Brown (who attended Web09) put it in a seemingly exasperated public tweet;

it’s not a freaking competition! Wish NBR would get over that. Seriously.

I’m with Brown on this one – New Zealand is a big enough place for both a Wellington and an Auckland based event. Web09 succeeding is a good thing for Webstock and vice versa.


Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • I saw the tweets about Chris’s comments and still cannot figure out what the fuss is about. Of course people were making comparisons, from the minute when John first announced the event. I didn’t think that Chris was saying it was a competition, but insomuch as Webstock has set the bar for years, and Web09 draws the same crowd, there is an element of friendly rivalry. No point getting sensitive about it, especially since Chris’s comments seemed to be very positive.

  • @Hamish – I think as commentators it’s important for us to make well informed comments – I’ve been guilty in the past of opening my mouth before thinking and it’s a bad look.

    Much of what Chris said was just plain wrong

    Cheers for the comment

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