My sense of euphoria and positivism with my chosen industry has been bolstered in the past few weeks by two really cool, emotionally uplifting events hosted by different segments of the Web community here in Australia.
Since '97 I've seen the Web industry in Australia go through a period of 'golden child'-hood, market darling, crash victim and pariah. We wandered in the wilderness for 3 or 4 depressing years after 2001 where we hardly talked to one another, got into petty flame-wars on lists, and struggled to regain our sense of purpose, place, and direction.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first webjam event in Sydney. The concept is simple, yet novel: 20 speakers get 3 minutes each to present to an audience of Web industry professionals about something cool they've worked on in 2006. The audience got to vote for their favourite presentation via an SMS voting tool, and prizes were awarded for the most popular speaker, and 'door prizes' for 7 lucky voters.
It was the sense of sharing, community, and mutual respect that eminated throughout the room as luminaries and lesser lights stood up under the supportive attention of their peers and strutted their stuff. It was the spontaneous applause; the laughter; the mingling and storytelling that went on as people reconnected with friends and colleagues.
Two weeks ago Webblast - a shared Christmas event bringing together industry pros from a range of groups ( Web Standards, IA-Peers, PHP Users, to name a few) - was a resounding success. 180 people talking, chatting, meeting new & familiar faces. The event was oversubscribed within 36hours of the announcement going out: I think we could have seen 300+ had the venue been able to accommodate them all.
I can only commend the efforts of the people who organised these two events, and the various sponsors who supported them, for putting on two very memorable and enjoyable events. I'm already looking forward to 2007, and looking back on 2006 a lot less jaded than I started the year.