We are the Gatekeepers

This year I have been lucky enough to once again head along to Web Directions South in Sydney. There’s still a day to go, but I thought I would share a few thoughts about the main focus I felt coming out of day one.

There are four tracks at WDS this year so my observations may be, in many ways, unique. It seemed, however, there that there were 2 main themes carrying through the talks.

We are responsible for shaping the future.

There has been a real emphasis on looking ahead. Josh Clark (@globalmoxie) started by opening our minds to the array of technical possibilities already in the world, hinting at the crazy and amazing things that might be possible in the future.

We need to be ready for a post-post-PC world were people are no longer simply interacting with, and experiencing, information on computers, or even mobile devices. There will be an array of devices, systems and sensors to interact with both actively and passively.

Mark Boulton (@markboulton) talked about how responsive design (making sites that just work on any device, current or future) means releasing our tight grip on control and working in a way that is flexible. This has huge implications on the business side, and process of design – things we need to adapt to be future-proof.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher (@sara_ann_maree) got us thinking about content and how it can be made ready to flow to any sort of device and environment. We need to stop thinking about content as one big text block – and start giving it shape and form. She also encouraged us to start thinking about metadata and how it can be used to help put content where it is needed.

John Allsopp (@johnallsopp) took us through a history of the web as we know it. We saw a pattern of current technology always looking to mimic the functionality of the past. We made websites behave like printed pages. We make mobile interactions mimic physical interactions we are used to.

He challenged us to think ahead – not focusing on the old methods of thinking and communication that we are used to – but dreaming up amazing ways to use the new technologies that we have.

We Hold the Keys

The other overarching theme was a call to arms.

In this world where the future is within reach – we are the ones holding the keys.

Most of the speakers touched on this in some way. But it was the closing Keynote from Ben Hammersley (@benhammersley) that really drove it home.

He spoke about Moore’s Law in relation to government, business and the wider world. Devices are increasing in capability at such a rate that within 10 years of poicies being introduced, or decisions being made – the landscape has changed entirely. In 10 years time the likelihood is that the phone in your pocket will be 64 times as powerful and capable as an iPhone5. And on the flipside – a device as powerful as current smartphones will cost next to nothing.

This is a world that scares people. They don’t get it. They try and legislate against it in an effort to control something which they can’t.

Ben pointed out to use that there are maybe 10,000 people in the world who understand the web. We are those people.

We are the gatekeepers to a sort of digital renaissance – the ones responsible for shaping what the future looks like for billions of people. That is an awesome power, but a HUGE responsibility.

We need to lead the way in pushing the way we do things, whether it be device interaction, preparing design and content for the brave new world, or simply our aspirations.

But we also need to be the ones educating others, and preparing them for the brae new world we are headed into.

Are you up for the challenge?

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