Yes. Basia and I were at Web Summit Conference this year. We went to Dublin – the land of Fairies, Guinness and a huge technology conference. Overall it was great and exhausting; the talks were interesting and inspiring, I discovered how varied the startup stage is and could confirm that, indeed, Guinness tastes better in Ireland.
I got my ticket by entering a competition organised by Amazemeet (blog.amazemeet.com/women-in-tech/). Thanks to that lovely initiative I got to meet two wonderful people: Mike – founder of Amazemeet, a person that has magic powers in finding out best stories from people he just met; and Nádia – also a winner, UX designer, passionate sketchnoter and great small talker.
When there are 2 parallel tracks at a conference we often find ourselves making many hard choices. We try to assess what will be the most interesting topic or from which presentation will we gain more. At the Web Summit there were 7 parallel tracks and at least half of them sounded amazing. There were also dozens of interesting startups, new technologies like Oculus and on top of that plenty of fun people to talk to in the long coffee queues.
I like drawing and I like sharing my experiences, so I chose talks that were most interesting to me and combined some of my sketchnotes from them.
Big Mistake – Andrei Herasimchuk
Should designers learn how to code? The answer given was Yes! While I’m sure we could have a debate about that, I liked the argument that coding gives you the ability to create something and that it’s a super power.
Chairman of the bored – Chris Moody
A reminder that creativity means being brave, it means to push the boundaries and innovate. Chris walked us through some popular “safe words” and proposed alternate terms that can activate a more creative approach to problem-solving.
Venture design: from zero to launch – Ethan Imboden
Talk about delivering a product in lean iterations; how to use venture design to find this rapid path from the idea to the market.
Why design is the new engineering – Neil Rimer, David Okuniev, David Tuite, Jeffrey Veen, Mike Davidson
How design will shape the tech startup ecosystem for years to come. This panel discussion was just full of great quotes:
What a product does is deeply affected by the design.
The design of the product should be its foundation.
Design comes from the team – co-designers of the UX.
Teach empathy at every end point.
Flat, fast and f*cked up – Marcus Woxneryd
My favourite talk from that day, from creators of Monument Valley, presentation about organisational culture put in 3 points:
1. Flat is Phat (organisation); we know that very well at Lunar, but it’s always nice to hear it from someone else, with a unique approach and ideas.
2. Fast (team); the importance of collaboration skills in teams, for good performance we need purpose, and trust in others. Marcus also pointed out the value of a celebration ritual, having time to appreciate good work, and achieving success (small and big); it’s something that helps to build good teams.
3. F*cked up (individual); everyone is different, we all bring something unique and valuable to the table. Embrace that in others. Give others feedback, not only “high-five feedback” but also critical.
At the end we were left with the AFGO motto; when you find yourself in a difficult situation, when you feel that you failed at something, think about it as an AFGO – Another F*ucking Growth Opportunity. Because before you succeed you need to fail sometimes, experiment and learn from that. Exploration over strategy.
Diplomacy in the digital age – Anne-Marie Tomchak, Jan Melissen, Jane Suiter, Patrick Smyth
A panel about how real-time citizen reporting, data leaks, memes and hashtags have influenced the political landscape. I went to because I didn’t know anything about this topic. It was interesting to hear journalists and diplomats share their experience of how digitalisation is shaping their work. Social media gave diplomats an opportunity to engage in conversation with people, to share information directly, but also created a space where politicians are challenged if they don’t deliver what they promised.
The art of tidiness – Marie Kondo
The author of the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up talked us through her method of tidying up. At the end of her presentation (given in Japanese) it became clear why she is part of tech conference: Marie will launch her app next year, where you can document your progress in cleaning up, but also become a cleaning consultant. I guess it will mark the moment in the tech industry when there will be an app for everything.
The ultimate selfie – Jacklyn Ford Morie
A talk about what we leave behind in a digital world, how much of our lives we can already capture with quantified-self technology. Jacklyn presented a vision of avatars that we can leave behind us, avatars that were learning about us through our whole life and can continue to represent us after we die. For me, it’s a sci-fi idea that is still far in the future, but the talk showed me that actually a lot is being done in that area of virtual experiences.
Storytelling #emotification – Mary Lee Copeland
Storytelling is re-emerging in tech as a hot trend and buzzword. Great presentation based on a video of James Brown and his storytelling through singing and stage acting. Mary claims that all human beings are storytellers and stories resonate with us. We should use stories to create our branding and user experiences that are engaging and memorable. Tell a story to people, find them when they’re in trouble and make your product a turning point in that story.
The sixth sense – David Eagleman
A presentation about how narrow our experience of reality is. Research in neuroscience and brain processes led David to create new interfaces, such as a sensory vest.
I highly recommend watching his ted talk about this topic: Can we create new senses for humans?
Dan Brown in conversation with Peter Kafka
I’m not really sure why Dan Brown was there, and I guess he didn’t know either. Nevertheless, it was interesting to listen to him talk about his relationship with science and religion, how it was influenced by his childhood and school experiences. How those two fields are in his opinion using two different languages to tell the same story. As a fun fact, he shared the title of his first novel (created when he was 5 years old) called Giraffe, the Pig, and the Pants on Fire, which definitely sounds like something I would read.
The magazine reimagined – Jefferson Hack, Matt Garrahan, Liam Casey
The story of creating a unique magazine. “Its blend of high fashion and world-class photography with features on the arts, politics and literature continues to make each beautifully crafted edition a collectors’ item.”
To me, it looks like something taken out from Harry Potter’s world. You can see it here: AnOther Magazine presents: ‘A View of the Future’
Creativity – Ed Catmull, Caroline Daniel
Ed Catmull – the President of Pixar, was in a conversation with Caroline Daniel about creativity. It was the closing talk and I was waiting for it the whole day. It was great to listen to him talk about friendship and how failure fuels creativity. “Every film Pixar works on always sucks at first”, so it’s important to create an environment that allows constructive criticism as well as evolving of new ideas, talents and solutions. Ed also spoke about his childishness needed to stay creative, and how having fun is a way to stay passionate.