Cockatoo Software

Reflecting on Webstock

Published on 03 April, 2012 by Keith Pitty

In such a diverse industry as software, there is no shortage of sources for inspiration. If your focus is software for the web, it would be hard to go past Webstock as an uplifting event to fuel you with ideas. This year I had the privilege to be in Wellington, NZ to soak up all that the conference had to offer.


In the back of my mind were the rave reviews about Webstock from previous years. And I guess I was curious. To begin with, I had never ventured “across the ditch” to New Zealand. And how was it that Wellington could attract such a lineup of luminaries to speak at a web conference?


Such was the quality of the talks at Webstock, if I were to dwell on all the speakers who impressed me, I would never get around to publishing this article. So I have selected three of my favourites.

Wilson Miner

Mesmeric, polished, filled with food for the intellect. This is how I would begin to describe Wilson’s talk, “When we Build”. As Wilson says, “we shape our tools and our tools shape us.” He challenges us to step outside of our normal view as designers or developers and accept the unique historical position in which we find ourselves.

One cannot avoid becoming absorbed in the insights that Wilson shares.

Wilson had given this talk previously. I encourage you to watch it and take the time to reflect upon what he has to say about the way the screen is shaping our environment.

Ethan Marcotte

Given that I have recently been focussing more on the best way of ensuring that websites present themselves well on different devices, it was indeed a privilege to see Ethan Marcotte, the originator of responsive web design, present.

Ethan’s story about transforming The Boston Globe into a site that adapted well to different devices was illuminating. Responsive design via the use of media queries makes perfect sense to me.

It was a delight to hear Ethan present. Notwithstanding his stated desire to “be an unstoppable robot ninja when he grows up”, Ethan’s intellect shone through like a beacon.

Amy Hoy

For me, Amy Hoy was the most inspiring presenter at Webstock. And that is saying something!

Amy’s message was one about self-awareness and gumption. She spoke from experience, from the heart about “changing the game.” About playing the game on your own terms rather than listening to or anticipating voices that tell you you can’t succeed.

As Wilson Miner alluded to, we live in a world where opportunities abound for the use of “the screen”. Listening to Amy Hoy with an open mind inspires one to make the most of one’s ideas to improve the interaction between people and computer screens, and profit in the process. I love Amy’s presentation style. She is attuned to showing you an alternative approach. And she gives you the benefit of her opinion directly and passionately.


Webstock has established an enviable reputation as a top notch web conference. I now know why and thoroughly recommend it to other web professionals.

Thank you to all who made Webstock 2012 such an invigorating experience.

P.S. For those whose interest may have been piqued, videos of some of the talks are available.

Keith Pitty is the owner of Cockatoo Software Pty Limited. He has over 30 years of professional software development experience and has a passion for providing software solutions that help people. Away from computers he loves sport, especially cricket, golf and Australian Rules football.