Throughout my career, I’ve always thought that conferences were a waste of time; either based on financial concerns or general observations. The reasons that made me think like this was quite convincing if you ask me. How can one not have concerns about wasting time when it’s a conference about the Internet and you know that there are going to be rooms filled with cable messes, chairs, lights and business card hells!
I thought again about this conference and asked myself this though; if there weren’t any financial concerns, when you compare what you could have done during the working hours of a usual week with what you can do during a 4-day conference, considering the commercial and social advantages that this conference can provide, which option would weigh more?
I haven’t always been that well with managing my time but since I believe in the permeability of time, I do not think that an evaluation that compartmentalizes time segments would be beneficial now. Sometimes, during an incredibly ineffective week you’ll find yourself making a decision that will change your life completely. For that reason, maybe it is not possible to compare a usual working week with a week spent in conferences. One should also consider that spending a couple of days in a city, in a country that is foreign to you might open some doors in your head. I felt quite confident about going to a conference as an attendee even if it was just to raise the possibility of certain opportunities. That’s how I’ve decided to go to the Web Summit 2015.
I’m sorry to tell you that Web Summit is leaving the land of its birth; it said its goodbyes to Dublin this year. I’ve listened to a lot of rumors as to why but some reasons -that are no secrets- can be listed such as these: the city is quite small and expensive. There are not enough hotels for accommodation and the venues at hand cannot satisfy the vast number of people that come to the conference. My personal guess is that they are also looking for a more convenient, touristic, and maybe a warmer place. These would make the ticket sales easier. I understand and find it justifiable.
But, what are we going to do?! I mean, us, the ones who fell in love with Dublin. I thought Dublin was a must-see city. Cities that you can travel on foot make me very happy, and Dublin was one of those cities. It was one of those rare cities that had such unique cultural texture; such beautiful architecture and such lovely social structure that made me think to myself “I’m so glad that I’m here.”
I should say this up front that the Summit deserves its reputation. Attendance was amazing. At times, this did cause some problems; there were times where I had trouble to even walk because of the crowds. Sometimes, you had to stand in line with hundreds of other people to listen to some speeches, which was crazy. Aside from certain physical impracticabilities like the former and the unsuccessful Internet broadcasting, it was obvious that the speakers as well as the subjects were chosen meticulously. In short, for attendees like myself who were just there to be observers; the speeches therefore the event in general was satisfying.
Giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Kickstarter, Slack, IBM, LinkedIn and Tinder were represented in a top-level way.
The key to call these events “good” depends on whether or not you find them inspiring. And for them to be inspiring, the speakers have to be muses. Frankly, I hoped to see more of these muses but I found Yancey Strickler, who is one of the founders of Kickstarter very inspiring. He’s smart, honest, sincere and fun. I kept a close eye on him and appreciated him a lot. Chris Moody’s “Chairman of the bored” speech was also inspirational and uplifting. Listening to Dan Brown speak live was an exquisite experience. And Paddy Cosgrave, he has an authentic energy; he was so intriguing. He was so sincere on stage, so relaxed and genuine. I guess Web Summit’s success depends on it being: Genuine and Charming.
Volunteers were all very friendly and gracious. This detail is definitely worth mentioning.
I can say it with ease that the conference’s mobile application was simple, neat, understandable, and effective. I think the app will develop, as it definitely needs some functional fixing with regards to the scheduling and map sections.
If you don’t have a substantial commercial reference list but you have faith in your idea, venture and yourself, Web Summit is the greatest opportunity to join the Newfoundland. Standing out with smart creative marketing plans is very possible.
The crowd was extremely positive. No matter whom you meet, they tried to get to know with curiosity and excitement. The sector shares this characteristic as well, which I think is one of the best properties a sector can have; this sector is almost all the time positive, genial and welcoming.
If you ask me “What will you remember the most from this event?” I would say the stage designs. The lighting, the décor, the ginormous screens were really so glamorous.
Some stages were an easy 15 min. walk far from one another. And if you consider that one talk was at most 20 minutes long, you can imagine the unhappiness and loss that walking distance creates.
The security guards who insisted on seeing the wristbands when the disproportionately big neck ID cards were proof enough bored me to tears.
The sections that were devoted to the Start-ups were not spacious at all which made walking and trying to see the Start-ups as hard as getting drinks at a crowded bar. As I walked around these narrow spaces with trouble, looking at the sweaty excited and concerned faces of the Start-up owners, I’ve decided to continue my stroll using the app and I’d ended my Start-up tour.
Considering the participant’s interests, the decision of choosing more spacious halls should have been made. Also, the Design and Code Summit halls should have been placed at a spot that is much closer to the Central Stage. I saw the line up front and dreaded waiting at least 4-5 times.
Some speakers acted as if they were swallowed by their successes. These people were seriously annoying and repulsive. I don’t want to give names just yet but I can tell you if you’re really curious.
So, when you read this title, you might think that I found the attendance fee too high but that’s exactly not what I’m trying to say. The conference authorities have specified such a fee that can be thought of as pricey and cheap at the same time.
Expensive: because it is not possible for an attendee to listen to all of the talks. In that case you feel like you’re wasting your money.
Cheap: because it is too crowded. When you are stuck outside thinking that you could have gotten inside along with hundreds of other people in line or when you find yourself unable to move because of the crowds, you can’t help but think “Did everybody with Internet connection bought tickets to this thing!?” And then again you feel that you’re wasting your money.
I don’t have any solutions. I think sometimes a functioning complaining mechanism can be just as good as a solution.
- Linking or connecting the participants using an algorithm (Language, Country, Title, Rookie, Expert, Industry, Skills etc.)
- Introducing the participants to one another (E.g: “There are 3 other attendees from Istanbul in the same stage as you, Do you want to say ‘Hi!’?)
- Having a function that allows you to make additional calendars in the “My Schedule” section. (When there are overlapping talks, the user has the option of saving the talks under the titles of “Alternative 1”, “Alternative 2,3…”)
- You should not have the option of be saving the completed talks as “Favorite Talks”.
- The personal calendars that you make when you’re offline should not disappear when you log out of the application, instead the app should carry and save the data that you have filled offline. (I’ve personally experienced this. I’ve realized that I’ve wasted my 2 hours when I turned on my phone after putting in a new sim card.)
- There should be a “how to get to the stage” function that gives you directions.
- When it’s time, the app should tell the occupancy rate of each stage and it should give an alert that says “The talk is about to start”
Which of these did I tell my wife who joined my Dublin trip for the weekend? None. What she was curious about was whether or not I’d met people that may benefit me. What I wanted to tell her was that I’d seen that I was on the right track.
Ugur Terzi Founder, Triceps – The Web Tailor