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8 Sessions You Shouldn’t Miss at Web 2.0 Expo

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Tomorrow’s web is being built by a vast community of programmers and designers spread around the globe. They’re all forging new paths on their own, but it’s when they find the occasion to get together and compare notes that the sparks really fly.

Such a gathering is happening this week in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Expo, a conference put on every six months or so by tech publisher O’Reilly.

Just like other developer conferences, there’s an expo floor and parties at night, but the meat of the event is the mix of talks, hands-on sessions, keynotes and presentations about all things web. There are sessions on browsers, Flash, HTML5, geolocation, JavaScript, advertising platforms, cloud computing and online communities.

It can all be a bit much, so here are our picks for the sessions you simply shouldn’t miss at the Web 2.0 Expo. Certainly, there will be others of great importance to you depending on your area of expertise (and you can view the full schedule here), but these are the sessions that we Webmonkeys are most looking forward to.

All sessions are taking place at Moscone West in San Francisco. The conference sessions start Tuesday and run through Thursday morning. Intensive educational tracks are taking place Monday, May 3. Follow coverage here on Webmonkey and on Twitter under the hashtag #w2e.

HTML5 vs. Flash: Webocalypse Now?

Tuesday, 10:00am, room 2001

Design guru and author Eric Meyer leads this discussion about the future of Flash on the HTML5-powered web. Don’t expect a Flash-bash session, though. It’s true that Flash has been taking a beating lately, but it still has a place in the modern, media-saturated web. Meyer will examine issues central to the Flash vs. HTML5 debate, including openness, security and performance.

A Conversation with Paul Buchheit

Tuesday, 4:10pm, Main Hall

This keynote interview will occur on the main stage, as Web 2.0 Expo program chair Sarah Milstein dishes the tough questions to Facebook’s Paul Buchheit. Now one of Facebook’s lead engineers, Buchheit originally arrived at the social networking giant when it acquired his start-up, FriendFeed (he was also one of the engineers behind Gmail at Google). Facebook has since incorporated many of FriendFeed’s innovations around real-time social publishing into its core product, the constantly-updating News Feed that scrolls down your Profile page. But that’s just the beginning of Buchheit’s story at Facebook. We can expect some discussion around the company’s new Open Graph platform it launched in April.

A Conversation with Kevin Lynch

Wednesday, 9:30am, Main Hall

On Wednesday morning, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch takes the hot seat. He’ll be answering questions about the future of Flash on the open web, on Apple and Android devices, and on developer’s desktops as a programming environment. Lynch often stays close to the Adobe script, but it’s likely that whatever he says will add fuel to the HTML5 vs Flash debate — already a heated topic among browser vendors, mobile device makers, and proponents of open web technologies. Web 2.0 Expo program chair Brady Forrest is the interviewer.

The Search Platform: Friend Or Vampire?

Wednesday, 10:15am, Main Hall

Where do you get your news? If you’re getting it from Google, content providers like Rupert Murdoch are gunning to shut down your favorite delivery system. There’s currently a lot of chatter about whether search providers have the right (via fair use) to reprint excerpts of the news articles they’re linking to, and most of the negative rhetoric is being voiced by news publishers. But on a searchable web governed by the link economy, there has to be a balance between linking and re-publishing for anyone to extract any value. Danny Sullivan of the Search Engine Land blog breaks down what it will take for search engines and publishers to get along.

What to Expect from Browsers in the Next Five Years

Wednesday, 11am, room 2006

This open discussion examines where the browser is headed next. No doubt, it will be smaller (fits in your pocket!) and more powerful. And it will probably handle your identity on social networking sites and play videos without plug-ins, too. Ajaxian editor Dion Almaer moderates the panel, and Yahoo’s Douglas Crockford (a JavaScript guru), Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, Opera’s Charles “chaals” McCathieNevile, and Microsoft’s Giorgio Sardo are the panelists.

The Innovative APIs Fueling Location on the Web

Wednesday, 3:40pm, room 2006

Former Webmonkey contributor Adam DuVander runs down all of the free tools available on the web for creating geodata-driven location-aware applications. Before you go, also check out Adam’s most recent project: Geomena, an open database of wi-fi access points you can use for geolocation.

State of the Internet Operating System

Thursday, 9:00am, Main Hall

Mr. Web 2.0 Tim O’Reilly kicks off the final day of the conference with his keynote presentation on what he calls the “internet operating system,” the collection of technologies and concepts — hardware sensors, identity, mobile phones, location APIs, advertising, cloud-based processing, et cetera — that are shaping the future of computing. Tied to our desktops no longer we are, young Jedis.

Web Fonts: The Time Has Come

Thursday, 1:00pm, room 2001

This panel looks at the state of typography on the web, and as you may be able to guess from the title, these guys think things are looking up. Fonts aren’t as limited as they used to be, thanks to innovations in CSS, JavaScript and web services like Typekit, which dole out really nice-looking fonts across the web using a new licensing model. Jeff Veen of Typekit is the moderator, and panelists include FontShop’s Stephen Coles and JQuery’s Paul Irish. For a preview on this topic, check out the very first episode of The Big Web Show, which discusses web fonts and features Veen as a guest.

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