Beyond growth pains

News from the conference room: this is a series of blog posts in which blogging experts briefly review key Tech4Africa 2010 talks and panels from Day 1 and 2.

Day 1

Beyond growth pains: A Q & A session with some of the global movers of Web 2.0

The social media we have come to know and love has very few prominent players. For growth in that market and developing your platform to giant proportions – with users other than close relatives and distant cousins. Who, better than the whizzes themselves to tell us how?

I sat in on a Q & A session with panelists from Twitter, Yahoo!, Mozilla Foundation and Simplegeo. Boy won’t you be glad I did because below are some of the things they covered.

Q: “What has been your hardest challenge, in your career, and how did you overcome it?”

A: (Joe Stump – Simplegeo) “Finding people I can bounce ideas off of, who have similar challenges at the same level in their growth“

A: (John Resig – Clear Left) “Understanding that the startup life wasn’t for me. It became most rewarding with a community.”

Q: “Is moving away from a small company and going corporate, the death of creativity?”

A: (Dustin Diaz – Twitter) “Twitter is always flowing with ideas. We all have different ideas and the constant challenge is to ways to implement the thinking of different people.”

Aside: Joe Stump had something relevant to say, which was unrelated to the question but makes sense to put here. “My number one rule is to hire people on the assumption that they great and potentially smarter than me.”

Q: “Are we creating a digital divide through building products that highly sophisticated and require more and more bandwidth?”

A: (John Resig – Clear Left) “There is a mobile digital divide that I’m realizing, most things now being developed android phones and the iPhone.”
The panelists earlier noted that the computer as we now use it is moving away from the need of an Operating System. The panelists assert that they spend less time using some of the functionality they once needed Operating Systems for. More people with team members that work remotely use Google Docs and other web based equivalents.

Some questions also came from delegates and this one in particular by Toby Shapshak I found really worth sharing.

Q: “With the browser becoming bigger and essentially what the internet is becoming, how do you fit that into mobile phones for use on cellphone screens?”

A: (Jonathan Snook – Yahoo!) “Get to the core of what you are trying to build and deliver that to your user. Essentially, products developed for the web have to be delivered differently for mobile phones.”

The session was quite eye-opening considering that while developing a product you also have to think of the business element related to the product.

Mongezi Mtati

Let’s talk development at Tech4Africa

The countdown has begun, and with less than 2 weeks till the most diverse and unique conference in South African tech history kicks off, all the last minutes plans are being put into place. We can’t wait for the doors to open and introduce you to some of the most prolific speakers from both South Africa as well as internationally.

A big focus at Tech4Africa will be focused on development and how local startups can benefit from learning from some of the best Developers from the biggest platforms around the world. Guys like Dustin Diaz from TwitterJohn Resig from Mozilla are just some of the big names to join us at Tech4Africa.

Jonathan Snook from Yahoo will be looking at how iPhone & Android development are growing rapidly, and how you can create the perfect and usable app. Jonathan comes from a long history of web development and developing apps, and will no doubt share his fantastic knowledge on these topics.

Another session not to miss is by Andy Budd, who is an interaction designer and web standards developer from Brighton, England. Andy leads the user experience team at Clearleft, and will be hosting a session called “Ignore User Experience at your peril”. User experience is essential when developing a new product, and Andy will take us through the steps to ensure it is done 100% correctly.

With Twitter growing daily in leaps in bounds, Lead User interface engineer, Dustin Diaz, will be sharing his tips & tricks when developing with Javascript. In his session called “Unobtrusive interfaces with js” will assist developers in ensuring user interfaces are are always rich & engaging.

Another Javascript ninja, John Resig, will be presenting a session called “6 secrets to becoming a jQuery ninja”, in which John will be showing you the tricks of the trade on how to become the ultimate jQuery ninja. John comes with a wealth of jQuery knowledge is the lead developer of the jQuery Javascript library.

If there is one session you do NOT want to miss at Tech4Africa, it will be the Q&A session with all these guys, joined by Joe Stump from SimpleGeo. Andy Budd, Dustin Diaz, John Resig, Jonathan Snook & Joe Stump will all join in a 1 hour Q&A session panel, where they will be answering your questions as well as answering an interesting question – “What was your hardest challenge, and how did you overcome it?” Be sure to join the guys on the Thursday at 11:00

It’s not only the international chaps who will be sharing their experiences with you, we have a fantastic South African panel called “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. Live to bootstrap.
The panel will be headed up by Brett Haggard who is joined by Barbara Mallinson from Obami, Eve Dmchowska from Crowdfund,  our very own Gareth Knight from Technovated & Andy Higgins from BidorBuy. The panel will look at how South Africans need to bootstrap their product and without losing perspective or faith.

Last but not least we will also be hosting Erik Hersman who was the man behind the ever popular African open source project Ushahidi, which allows users to crowd source crisis information to be sent via mobile. Erik will share his story on how Ushahidi has grown into the international success it is today.

With a lineup like this, you cannot afford to miss Tech4Africa this year. If you have not registered your place yet, we suggest you do so ASAP. Places are running out fast, this is one conference you do NOT want to miss out on !