Today I was reading a blog post by Dave Winer entitled Platforms where he wrote

It was both encouraging and discouraging. It was encouraging because now O'Reilly is including this vital topic in its conferences. I was pitching them on it for years, in the mid-late 90s. It should have been on the agenda of their open source convention, at least. It was discouraging, because with all due respect, they had the wrong people on stage. This is a technical topic, and I seriously doubt if any of the panelists were actually working on this stuff at their companies. We should be hearing from people who are actually coding, because only they know what the real problems are.

I was recently thinking the same thing after seeing the attendance list for the recent O'Reilly AJAX Summit. I was not only surprised by the people who I expected to see on the list but didn't but also by who they did decide to invite. There was only one person from Google even though their use of DHTML and IXMLHttpRequest is what started the AJAX fad. Nobody from Microsoft even though Microsoft invented DHTML & IXMLHttpRequest and has the most popular web browser on the planet. Instead they have Anil Dash talk about the popularity of LiveJournal and someone from Technorati talk about how they plan to jump on the AJAX bandwagon.

This isn't to say that some good folks weren't invited. One of the guys behind the Dojo toolkit was there and I suspect that toolkit will be the one to watch within the next year or so. I also saw from the comments in Shelley Powers's post, Ajax the Manly Technology, that Chris Jones from Microsoft was invited. Although it's good to see that at least one person from Microsoft was invited, Chris Jones wouldn't be on my top 10 list of people to invite. As Dave Winer stated in the post quoted above, you want to invite implementers to technical conferences not upper management.

If I was going to have a serious AJAX summit, I'd definitely send invites to at least the following people at Microsoft.

  1. Derek Denny-Brown: Up until a few weeks ago, Derek was the development lead for MSXML which is where IXMLHttpRequest comes from. Derek has worked on MSXML for several years and recently posted on his blog asking for input from people about how they'd like to see the XML support in Internet Explorer improve in the future.

  2. Scott Isaacs: The most important piece of AJAX is that one can modify HTML on the fly via the document object model (DOM) which is known by many as DHTML. Along with folks like Adam Bosworth, Scott was one of those who invented DHTML while working on Internet Explorer 4.0. Folks like Adam Bosworth and Eric Sink have written about how significant Scott was in the early days of DHTML.  Even though he no longer works on the browser team, he is still involved with DHTML/AJAX as an architect at MSN which is evidenced by sites such as and

  3. Dean Hachamovitch: He runs the IE team. 'nuff said.

I'd also tell them that the invitations were transferrable so in case they think there are folks that would be more appropriate to invite, they should send them along instead.

It's kind of sad to realize that the various invite-only O'Reilly conference are just a way to get the names of the same familiar set of folks attached to the hot new technologies as opposed to being an avenue to get relevant people from the software industry to figure out how they can work together to advance the state of the art.


Monday, May 16, 2005 12:18:14 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Google may have been underrepresented in your opinion, however Kevin Fox was the other person from the list I had who was invited, apparently accepted but subsequently did not come for whatever reason. I don't know that one could characterize that as lack of trying on the hosts' part.

Also, I think it's fair to speculate that there is also a group who were invited but either declined or gave no answer. Only the hosts know the full list of people who were invited - my point here is that without that knowledge, you and I can't exactly draw conclusions about who was invited, only about who attended.

Some of the people that you or I may have considered irrelevant to Ajax may have had perspective useful to the hosts' goal of bringing together design and user experience folk with coders. I don't know their full list of invitation criteria but that was one of their goals.

I agree that if it were my conference, I would have chosen differently. I might also have set a different agenda. Despite its imperfections, the summit has managed to amplify the ongoing discussion about improving user experience in rich internet applications.

I can't speak for other O'Reilly conferences. I've only been invited to this one due to some relevant work I've done in the past. It certainly wasn't because I'm A-list, although while there I didn't feel I was treated as anything but a peer by all involved.

It was great to meet a bunch of people I've followed for ages on my RSS feed. I hope to meet Dare Obasanjo some day to talk tech and have a laugh.
Monday, May 16, 2005 1:27:42 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
To be fair, I wasn't invited either. I just kind of crashed it because that's the sort of fellow I am.
Monday, May 16, 2005 2:21:39 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
So when are you going to start your own conference? You are now officially old enough. ;)
Monday, May 16, 2005 9:35:04 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Don't tell me Derek moves to MSN!
Monday, May 16, 2005 4:11:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Derek now works on XML Tools in Visual Studio.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005 6:32:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Deadwood and the Web Application Leap

Upside: ...
In any case, as Dare Obasanjo keeps reminding everyone these days the XMLHttp voodoo that is now being exalted was developed by Microsoft. And he has the right idea, Internet Explorer 5.0 was indeed the first browser to have a reasonably complete Dynamic HTML implementation where one could treat the browser as a dynamic surface that could be manipulated programmatically. [snip]

Make my day:
I recall a memo from someone about getting hardcore about the web in the hazy past. Was that a flashback or repressed memory?

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