Websummit Part 1 – Land of flyers and Mojito’s 

"Ever been to the Websummit in Dublin?" - No... "Boy, you missed out, this is nothing like that." - How do you know, you just got here? "Man, it just shows, it's not the same."

Probably the storyline of the first conversations I heard Friday, when arriving at the Lisbon airport 🙂 Good thing I immediately received a free Websummit t-shirt to ease my disappointment. What did I sign up for?

Seeing I'm officially a Websummit virgin, I still needed to find out for myself what it meant to be part of this huge event. An event that grew from 400 to over 40.000 participants in just a few years. (At least that is what my hotdog stand queue sources told me :)) So after a very smooth summit check-in and metropass purchase, I checked into my hotel and was invited by some Belgian entrepreneurs, to join them in the city centre for food and drinks. I was ready to start my summit!

Or at least that is what I thought 🙂 Just food and drinks quickly turned into hardcore Mojitos, crazy dancing tech nerds and a feeling in the morning of..."What the hell just happened?" 🙂 They call it the Night Summit for a reason. I Facebook lived the first talk and then went out into the lovely Portuguese sun, on my way to the venue...

Below are some of my key findings of the day:

Flyers, collect the whole set...

One of the leading European digital events, full of tech startups, digital investors, AI/VR talks, but the first things you encounter are 'flyers'. I was ready for the experience and totally committed to learn as much as possible, so I took every flyer the lovely ladies offered me. By the time I arrived at the main entrance, I gathered enough paper to reassemble the tree that died for it 😀

We are all friends here...

If I learned anything today, it was that this summit connects people. The badges, bracelets, t-shirts,... The subway and the streets are filled with Websummit attendees, that are more than happy to start a conversation. I took three subways and met an interesting person on every ride. I might be attending this summit on my own, but I never feel it. The Websummit talks are nice, but I already noticed that this summit is more about networking than actually hearing about the next holy grail.

Forget mobile, AR and VR are key...

While the marketing world is still talking about getting everybody to think mobile first, the startup world is way past that. There is only mobile, so let us start focussing on what is next, AI and VR technology. Programmers are getting lazy, so it is time computers start learning things on their own. The real world is so boring, time to make it completely virtual. The things Facebook (Toy Box, Standalone,...) are working on, show an amazing future for both AI and VR. A man once said, VR is the solution to a problem we haven't discovered yet. Well, I think we will solve a lot of problems if tech companies keep going down this road. (Watch the full Facebook Websummit talk here)

Banks are blocking the chain...

I decided to leave the known paths behind and dive into the world of finance, to see what is going on there. Of course most of the talks were about bitcoin and blockchain. What surprised me most was the big difference in opinion. Some were great believers and showed a great current and future state, while the finance sector itself showed realism, but leaning a bit too much towards skepticism than seeing opportunity. Will the two sides meet or will the finance world protect its way and get Ubered?

Time to focus more on disruptive innovation instead of incremental innovation (TBWA)

Amnesty International is one sharp cookie...

The main focus is innovation, technology and future thinking, but what are we sacrificing for all this virtual living? The privacy debate is nothing new and will go on forever as technology changes the rules of the game every day. The thing most of us don't think about is what consequences this has for people that live in less fortunate countries. Our biggest worry is having a shower picture of ourselves spread across the web, while the violation of privacy rights in other countries means getting arrested for a tweet of killed for a blogpost. With governments changing all over the world, privacy is not just a matter of protecting your legal rights, but also about making sure people still have rights in the end. I didn't see the harm in the privacy debate, until Amnesty International (Salil Shetty) showed us in a very witty way that it is not just about that bad hair day video or body scanning VR goggle, but about freedom of speech and not having to face punishment for a simple online picture. Salil used a great African quote to close his talk. Reaching out to tech giants to work with him in not stopping tech innovation, but keeping it human.

If you want to run fast, run alone; if you want to run far, run together

You can't eat tech...

With all this technology flying around our ears, it was funny to see we are all just human and humans have to eat. Good for us that we are also social species, so we all want to eat at the same time. The lines at the food trucks stretched from Lisbon to Dublin, so I had lunch at 15:30 and realized...Despite all the innovation, money and progress, in the end, people can't eat tech 🙂

 

An article written for us by Senior Digital Manager Marnick Vandebroek as he was one of our 6 lucky winners for a Web Summit ticket.