Web Summit 2018.
You may not know that it is one of the world’s largest digital tech events, if not the biggest, but nothing can prepare you for the sheer scale and diversity of the event. At first, I thought I was prepared for Web Summit. I said to myself that I’d ‘been to shows like this before and I know what to expect’.
The closest comparison I made with my colleague Steven, was the feeling of going to a stadium rock concert. Everyone is buzzing, lots going on and you suddenly realise the scale of the event. On the first day, walking into the first of four arenas on day one, it’s fair to say I was more than a little taken back at Web Summit’s scale.
Another great aspect of the event was just how upfront everyone was attending. Everyone I met was so polite, talkative and not afraid to say hello, introduce their business and ask about mine. We made some good friends, new opportunities and a glimpse of upcoming technologies and trends from tech leaders and big-name suppliers of all things tech and non-tech.
The vast range of talks was another culture shock. You simply cannot get to them all. My top tip is to take your time, go through the listings of talks and highlight what is important to you and plan it out before the event.
Another recommendation I learned is have a backup plan for a talk. Occasionally I found that some talks were not what I expected or as described, so having a backup talk is a smart option to cover you for that moment you find yourself between talks.
Lovers of food…
Being a self-confessed foodie, I usually find food at events and shows to be pretty poor. I was pleased to see Web Summit don’t fall into that category. Maybe it’s because it’s based in Lisbon or the share scope of nationalities attending but you are spoiled for choice and you can easily have a different breakfast and lunch every day of the event. However, I learned on the first day to take lunch before 12 or after 2pm to avoid the queues.
What the inventor of the internet had to say…
One of the biggest positives from the event for me began with a great opening talk from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the world wide web – so a big figure in Big Pixel’s world. He began the event with a ‘Magna Carta’ to protect people’s rights online from the current threats to the medium from hate politics, fake news and prejudice that he said ‘plagued the web’. He was disappointed in what his creation has become and launched For the Web to create a ‘contract of the web’ to protect individuals rights and freedoms online. He also asked the governments of the world to ensure their citizen’s rights and access to their privacy is respected so they can freely and safely use the internet without fear.
While only launched at Web Summit, the contract will be published in May 2019 after they spend the next 6 months asking governments, tech giants and citizen’s what do they want to see a change in online and their rights.
France was the first official country to sign up, and over 100 companies like Google & Facebook have signed up already. So we immediately signed up. Big Pixel Creative has firmly always believed in the users protection and freedom of the world wide web.
Follow our blog for further news regarding this and why not check out #fortheweb yourself.
Apple’s protecting the future…
Following Tim, the importance of caring for the world, environment and company responsibility came from Apple’s Vice President for the Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives – Lisa Jackson. She was pleased to announce that Apple are now powering their global offices and facilities with 100% renewable energy. A great news story more companies need to make. She ended on their recent breakthrough with a Canadian company in a zero carbon aluminium manufacturing and their goal to have their entire supply chain and retail units 100% renewable energy. It really showed how important it is to Apple and I think it resonated with the audience.
Mindfulness and Tech…
Another recurring topic was mental health and mindfulness. Something I was not expecting from a technology conference. Companies actively promoting the wellbeing of the mind and disconnecting from technology. The founders of mindfulness app Calm had a great talk reminding us to look after our staff and to take a break from tech during the work day. It felt refreshing to be talking about mental health in such a positive way and refreshing to hear it’s the next big boom as it was noted that within the next 12 months, mental health is going to be a billion-dollar industry.
Finally, something funny…
I always like to end these thoughts on something memorable, and for me, David Hill’s from FunnyBiz held a solo talk on how to hack public speaking and be better at it. It was a very popular talk and luckily this one image sums up his talk about speakers holding a hamster when they talk. The general joke of not knowing what to do with your hands when public speaking left an impression with me and this is something I admit found myself doing. I really suggest you check out his book and catch him live if you can.
And so while I was initially overwhelmed by the event, now I’m back home, I’m hooked. I loved the experience. We made some great friends, new contacts and learned new skills we can apply to business and our customers. I’m already looking forward to next years event and think we will make the most of it knowing the scale and how the event works now.