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Summit for everyone?

What a difference a day makes?

I spent just one day at websummit this year (Weds) but it was enough to remind me why I’ve stayed in the web industry for nearly twenty years.

A recent freelance project had left me reeling and seriously contemplating retraining in something completely different maybe medical/legal.  It was that nasty mix of pernickety time pressured detail coupled with a general lack of fulfilment – not unlike my brief spell as an account manager in an ad agency – chasing chasing deadlines for really boring tasks.

12 hours mooching around the RDS, the Intercontinental hotel and then of course Dame lane undid the trauma because I realised I was back among my people – anything is possible, technology rocks and the Internet is the biggest thing since steam power.

I’m not totally blinkered either, some of the talks were more miss than hit – the bits I caught on the marketing stage seemed to be think that advertising is all there is to our “profession”, twenty minutes is too short for a panel discussion on really interesting topics particularly when the chair likes his voice way too much and twenty minutes is too long for talks so pedestrian that they have no business being heard or aired in public. Let’s not go into the many hair brain ideas because as Beckett tells us we can all learn to ‘fail better’ so while I listened to their pitches, the energy, the passion – I thought to myself, they’ll learn much for this flopping and go at it better next time.

What’s with the obsession with Augmented Reality?
Maybe it’s because I’m a girl but so what? One demo allowed me to configure my car with full 360 degree views out the window while I selected the dashboard – he kept saying ‘look up look up’ and I wanted to reply with something that rhymed but wasn’t that polite! Another guy told me that they’re bringing the 360 degree experience into the developing worlds’ classrooms – looking at the Grand Canyon from all angles. What’s wrong with a DVD? Why does it have to be all invasive? Is augmented reality on the top of the agenda in developing countries above or on par with maybe sex tourism, child labour?
The foodsummit prices seemed to be the only augmented reality that was really capturing people’s attention – I bet you overhead as many people as I did whinging about ‘twenty feckin quid for a burger, a fish n chip…’

The Internet of Things
I love the idea behind the Internet of Things (IoT), Gartner think there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 and that’s not so far away. From what I gather, it seems to be mainly utilities but it’ll be interesting to watch how it permeates down to us, the punters. However, I don’t want an intelligent fridge ordering my groceries unless it comes up with the smartest predictive algorithms to work out what my fickle sons like today and will or won’t like tomorrow!

The Human Network
Arah we can give out about the talks, the size of the stalls, the wifi but that’s not the reason we were there nor why we’ll be back. We were there to connect with each other not our computers –  the warm feeling when you bump into the old heads or have great chats with new faces. It’s a bit like that Clinton slogan – it’s the people stupid!  Say what you like about the venue or its controversial CEO but it’s the vibe, it works and if you took the time to stop and look around,  you would see that community was the biggest draw. In fact I’ve started doing the ‘mindful conferencing’ thing lately where I try to not spend my time pushing my responses out on social but instead just experience the event rather than record it. I sent maybe 2 tweets yesterday then decided to just ‘be present’. Fair play to them, most people I observed were having the time of their lives – great chats with people from all over the world that shared their passion.

In Dublin’s farewell city
We’ll have to conclude on #Lisbongate. It is a shame. People, community, vibe – will it work over there? Probably, websummit is the ideal working city break and Dublin had it for a few years, I don’t know how Lisbon will compare on the pinting side of it – Dame street last night on a balmy November evening was magical – is there an equivalent in downtown Lisbon? I’m heading there for a weekend in December so I’ll let you know.

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