“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new”, Dalai Lama
What did I like about Lisbon? Well, many things, including its hospitality, the food and the people, the smell of the ocean, its decorated floorings, the artistic metro stops and its streets – always going uphill and downhill.
I came back yesterday from one of the biggest global conferences about the technology universe. I liked Lisbon so much that I would like to go back there soon, with some time to enjoy it even more since when I was there the city was very crowded because of the Web Summit.
WHAT DID I EXPECT FROM THE WEB SUMMIT?
Truth is, I spent a lot of time reading articles, opinions and experiences of the last edition on my phone. The topics were always really interesting, some sneak peeks on the future of communications, an open attitude to discuss important themes that are currently afflicting our planet.
The main topic changes year after year but the variety and the quality of the sessions remain constant and consistent.
I left with a team of 11 people from Interlogica on Monday, 5th November at 7:00 pm. We went to Venice airport and waited for a less than a 3-hour flight that took us to Lisbon, the delightful capital of Portugal.
For most of us it was the first time ever in Lisbon.
We only had a tiny regret during our flight: unfortunately the opening night of the event took place whilst we were on the plane. Never mind, this didn’t ruin the enthusiasm of the “Web Summit Team”: we were all very excited and looking forward to the whole event.
WHAT I ACTUALLY DID
“We live in uncertain times for tech and business. At Web Summit we welcome the people who are tackling the big challenges facing industry today. Our stages cover topics ranging from deep tech and data science to design and environmental sustainability.”, Web Summit promo.
There were also the best newspapers of the world, several representatives from different Governments and European Commissions. A great opportunity for the quality of the connections that can intertwine: CEOs, Presidents, Managing Directors, Editors in Chief: many of them and all great.
These were all the necessary ingredients which started to stir our synapses. You felt charged with an incredible energy every single day, speech after speech and then you had to stop to talk about everything whilst enjoying an Americano.
I asked a tiny robot to make me a pizza, I literally danced with Einstein, I was able to see my heart beating with a t-shirt connected to an app, I walked on Piccadilly Circus and among the foxholes of WWII, I petted a seal soft toy realised in pet therapy for children with learning difficulties.
I listened to many peoples’ talks, I fell in love with a robot creating a painting and with Furhat, the scary AI assistant with a face and yes, I gave my personal data to several different companies to bring home some gadgets (they are really cool ones: coffee powder, power banks, thermos, webcam privacy covers, t-shirts, pens, pencils, hoodies, agendas, hats, cables and anything else that might come to mind).
At the Summit you have to try any sort of delicacy. It is probably the best-stocked restaurant I have ever seen in my life with its incredible selection of Food Trucks. Everything was there: Japanese (easy one), Chinese (boring), Burgers (here the choices become interesting), Veggie, Vegan, Smoothies and the best caramel waffles I have ever had (a colleague of mine believes they should be illegal as they are too good!)
WHAT DID I LEARN DURING THIS WEB SUMMIT
Being part of a business that operates in a tech-driven domain, I constantly live and breathe innovation. The event was a great tool for me to understand, once again, that it’s the one-to-one relationships, the people, that make the difference. You can share ideas and thoughts with people from all over the world – there were about 70.000 people from 150 countries – you can listen and understand what others do, how they do it and why they do it. This is just priceless.
We are currently living in a historical moment in which speed rules. Many times it leaves you with the unpleasant feeling that you cannot slow down anymore to stop and look at us, as “real” human beings.
This gigantic conference is an amazing place to meet people who come from every corner of life and it is a fantastic opportunity to be inspired by their “road trip”, by their passions and dreams.
Gianni Togni, an Italian singer, back in 1980 was singing “ if look at the world from a porthole”. During the Summit, in 2018, well, that porthole becomes a gigantic panoramic window opened on the big challenges that the digital space is now facing. Technology, data science, design, music and environmental sustainability: you can feel how these technologies are making, in one way or another, the way in which we live, work and understand the world better.
The positive lesson is that firms, governments, us citizens we can all play a key role in influencing the change in a positive way.
This was the WebSummit, at least for me.
- The coolest presentations are at the Centre Stage
- Never go for lunch during the official lunch-break
- Queues, queues, queues: the wait becomes your best friend
- Weather and temperatures change at light speed
- Go to the summit with an empty suitcase: you will need all the space for the futuristic gadgets
- It is impossible to understand Portuguese
- Always make some time to visit the city: it’s really worth it
- Talks with very bombastic titles are usually quite fluffy
- Pasteis de Nata are a drug: you get addicted to them
- If an artificial intelligence guesses your age just by looking at your face from a screen, well, we are all fucked…