posted July 05 2012
on Paul Darcey

Thoughts on WWDC 2012

This was my second WWDC, and I had a much different experience from last year. Last year I didn’t know anyone there, while this year I had the chance to catch up with dozens of people I’ve met in the last 12 months, and to meet lots of new people.

People

I saw a few people Appsterdammers would know: Saul Mora, Kendal Gelner, Dave Wiskus, Rob Elkin, Kyle Kinkade, and Lassi from Sanoma (thanks for taxi from airport).

I bumped into Daniel Jalkut on the street, and met Wil Shipley at one of the parties… if you want to meet everyone who is everyone, hang out with Saul Mora — he knows everyone, and everyone seems to know him!

It’s kind of weird meeting new people by their real name — often I recognised their Twitter handle but not their name! But it’s really cool meeting people in real life that I’d been following on Twitter for ages.

Embassies

I’d like to thank Rob Elkin and Kyle Kinkade for their tremendous work in setting up Appsterdam’s two alternative embassies in San Francisco. Feedback from the 100s of people who attended was great; we’ll definitely have a special WWDC embassy again in 2013! I think we definitely showed that it is feasible to offer alternative events for people during WWDC; not just for people who missed out on tickets, but also for those that got tickets. We’re also setting up a permanent embassy there, thanks to Jana Boruta and Martin Rosas.

What it feels like

Someone (I forget who) pointed out that WWDC is a lot like Christmas for nerds:

  • First you have the anticipation; the buildup
  • Then friends and relatives descend on town
  • Then the opening keynote is like Santa coming and dropping off presents
  • Then there’s opening those presents and playing with them (downloading the new SDKs, seeing the new Macbook Pro’s etc)
  • Then there’s all the parties, the drinking, eating too much, the hangovers (just like the real thing!)
  • And there’s more presents — people give you things while you’re standing in line, or at the parties

My schwag haul: at least half a dozen t-shirts, the WWDC jacket, stickers, badges/pins, couple of iPhone cases, couple of pairs of gloves that work with touch screens (my favourite).

A well-run show

WWDC is overall very well run: well-rehearsed, polished speakers. The presentations by engineers are almost as good as Steve’s famous keynotes. They have obviously practised and polished their presentations, and been coached (in a good way). These engineers do better presentations than most CEOs, politicians and conference speakers (i.e. people whose job description includes making presentations)!

Most conferences have some time set aside to mingle in an informal way. WWDC’s Thursday evening Beer Bash is way, way better than most of these mingle-type functions. Neon Trees at this year’s BB were good! (It is weird, though, to be watching a band surrounded by about 5000 men and maybe 100 or so women. Maybe that’s par for the course in San Francisco, but to me it felt strange!)

No-one was dressed up in business suits — not the executives, the presenters, the security people, the attendees; nobody — but their behaviour was more professional. So much for accusations that Apple values looks over function. They seem to concentrate on knowing what’s important and getting that right.

Sessions are good, the labs are better, and meeting up with friends (old and new) is best.

Things they could do better:

Obviously, better notice of when it is going to be on would be good. (Maybe pre-announce when tickets will go on sale to avoid the surprise and people missing out simply because they were asleep.)

And lining up for everything, all the time, sucks.