Ask not what you can do for WPP Stream, ask what WPP Stream can do for you — an (un)conference like no other

by Fatima Dowlet, Director of TV Strategy at Videology

It was with a mixture of apprehension and excitement that I boarded the 8.05am from Heathrow to Athens to attend my very first tech conference. As a huge fan of the HBO comedy Silicon Valley I was pretty certain I had the measure of the next 3 days — tech crunch-esque style battles, venture capitalists sniffing out the next big thing, nerds geeking out over the latest bit of kit, very few women and the ever present middle-class white boy rappers were my general preconceptions.

I couldn’t have been more wrong…

Instead I found a bunch of talented, inspiring, super-smart folk all with one thing in common — a desire to learn.

But what is Stream? The format is deceptively simple — turn up and be prepared to share. What you share is entirely up to you: ideas, food, passions, thoughts, balloons in space, music, bonfires, taste-altering pills, inventions. It seems anything goes at this (un)conference.

The main action of the two days centred around two huge white boards, where all of the discussions on offer were scribbled up. On first inspection the topics were pretty much as I expected: privacy, data, viewability, the future of TV and ROI were just some of the subjects on offer. But move in closer, open your eyes and look a bit more carefully and you could find topics as varied and diverse as unconscious bias in the police force (held by a super-cool police woman who we all had a bit of a crush on!), the internet of things, raising children in the new digital age, neuroscience of choice and gaming for peace, were just some examples of questions that sparked interesting and fiery exchanges.

But the discussions were just one part of this (un)conference. Workshops on coding, stop-motion animation, computer building and drone flying were all on offer. And the evenings were just as stimulating (with the addition of a few beers to further stimulate). Ignite talks did just that — ignited your curiosity and Extravaganza showcased all of the talent on offer — singing, dancing, live demos, product innovation, and yes someone really has developed a coffee machine that prints an image of Sir Martin Sorrel on your foaming cappuccino. Midnight Cooking Madness allowed everyone to sample food from around the globe, prepared and served by Streamers themselves, and I must mention the taste-altering pills which made sour into sweet and vinegar into vodka, my taste buds will never be the same.

This conference promised nothing and delivered everything. Turn up, join and be inspired. All of my pre-conceptions were proved wrong (a lesson in itself), apart from one… can you guess what it was? Yes you got it, those middle-class white boy rappers — they get everywhere !

Fatima Dowlet, Director of TV Strategy at Videology

With over 18 years of agency life under her belt working in broadcast teams, she recently saw the light and moved into the digital world to try her hand at online-video. As a self-confessed know it all she has been surprised how little she does know and how much she can learn from events like Stream.

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