Last big tech conference I attended was Tokyo Tech in Asia in 2015, more than one year ago, so I was really excited to attend the Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon.
It has been globally a nice event, but wait, I still think it could be improved.
I found in the crowd interesting people to have passionate discussions about various topics going from continuous deployment for startups, to the best tools (and what’s coming next) for company communications or how to reach global audience with community products. I’m thinking particularly about Platform.sh, Atlassian or the team of RentALocalFriend who are at the top of their fields.
It was easy to move from place to place, and the queues were well managed given the number of people. The attitude of the attendees was open and friendly, and it has been really easy to start discussions about anything with anybody.
Lots of countries were represented, lots of diversity (but not really among the speakers), lots of good projects, lots for free things too.
The pub crawls made it easy to meet people. Lisbon is a beautiful city for this, having Saturday nights every night of the week felt good.
The number of volunteers was impressive and there was always somebody to answer questions in case of doubt.
The wifi and the app were not working properly, but that might be the sign of a great event, right?
I’ve also met old friends from Japan and all Asia. It felt good to connect again, 10 000km away from Tokyo. The Rise Lounge has been the meeting point of my ‘old’ world into the new one, Europe. Casey Lau has been a perfect host.
However, here comes the critic part, the talks were REALLY weak. Succession of famous people trying to sell their products/services/books, boring speakers contaminated by the TED-formatted-talk disease and the total absence of debate, contradicting opinions or critical thoughts on stage.
I’m giving you this hilarious example during the conference about “What place do ethics and values have in technology?” in which speakers from US were whining about Russia supposedly interfering with US elections… Well, there was nobody in the audience or moderator to balance the discussion, to offer another point of view (tech in not only in US) or even to remind that US has been messing with elections all over the world (one source among millions).
It felt like a beautiful panels of Artificial Intelligence and mindless selling robots. /rant
But eh, I got to meet with lots of awesome people from around the world, discovered fun products, made lots of contacts related with coworking, talked VR and voxels with Robert Scoble, so I guess that’s ok.
Who goes to conferences for the talks anyway?