WPP Stream
5 min readMay 26, 2022


By: David Shing, Shingy

As I pull the shade down, taking off after another two full immersive days at WPP Stream, I am happily exhausted and full of joy. It’s been a long road to this Stream and even longer for me. It’s been about 10 years since I was here last and everything and nothing has changed. And it’s exactly what you would expect after over 2 years being covid cocooned.

The format is still brilliantly un-conference. Meaning there are almost 60 discussion topics to participate in, peppered with a few incredible main stage presentations and fireside chats. That hasn’t changed.

What felt different and new this year was the hunger for community and the openness to a wide array of topics. Why? Well this incredibly well curated participant list which is designed to maximize diversity of experience, of profession, of culture and of thought. It works. Combined with these three critical ingredients; community, connection and contribution and you have a platform for challenging ideas, compelling discussions and marvelous fun.

The beauty of Stream is helping to answer questions and confirming assumptions around topics and ideas we are curious about. Like these:

“Is user data actually the new oil?”

Media, ads and subscriptions. Is there a new model?

Generation Alpha. The least creative generation of all time.

User owned data. A crazy dream or an idea whose time has come?

Sustainability in media buying. What is possible from a big dream?

Drops in live streaming and why brands should care.

How tech people should collaborate with artists.

Human being v’s human doing.

Epic fails. What can we learn.

Why doesn’t anybody read the IPCC Climate Report?

When should brands take a stand?

Millions of patients are dying why isn’t tech saving more lives.

How we can help in Ukraine?

AR and the real world v’s the Future verse.

You can’t spell Metaverse without AR.

Web3 the future of fandom.

The diversity trap.

How to be an inclusive global leader.

Normalizing caregiving in the workplace.

No one is a soccer mum.

Cannabrands, yes or No? And WTF Elon?

So here are a few takeaways to consider, perhaps sparking more questions than answers — and I’m OK with that.

I really enjoyed the sessions challenging us to be better leaders. Spending time on ourselves, our family, our work our beliefs. Gratitude for our families, our careers, our health and our industries. Can we balance being a fuller human being with our human doing? Maybe it’s a reframe. Retain the “human being” in our “human doing”? I sure hope so. How can we as leaders find a balance in our style to ensure our teams, our people feel invested? Ensure we are not just retaining but building on the next generation of doers by providing them with the tools, the space and freedom to explore what the modern workplace feels like, which has been tough given our constant state of fuzzy, At least it’s a shared experience.

While we are hopeful of the extension of digital media and new consumption habits can we and do we have permission to explore new revenue models? We all agree, before any new models can be tested, first we need to build engaging content, for community, for commerce.

Much discussion around Tik Tok as we shared space with some people who have quickly built an engaged audience even as it continues to be the new kid on the social block. The most successful brands have built trust with their creators who in turn build trust with their audience who are rooting for the creators to build a significant career on the Tik Tok platform and even appreciate a brand partnership to help these people build a commercial successful livelihood. Cool. However, brands giving up control and trusting their brand is better off in the hands of the creators isn’t so easy.

Almost every conversation led to wanting more clarity about the newness of Web 3. The true ownership economy. Whether thats’s deep ownership through an architecture of provenance (know exactly where elements connect) whether it’s production, programming or business structure. Or minting art where everyone in the exchange system participates in the increased value, increased pride, increased happiness. Or where you can immerse yourself in the metaverse, through gaming, through participatory video, through dynamic sound, utilizing headsets or handsets with gorgeous VR or efficient. It’s all very different from the webs before us.

Web 1, more about a few large publishers owning audiences throughout their walled gardens delivering a more curated . Web 2 allowed us all to connect socially, organically with networks of people and persona’s and find out our voice through this new people powdered publishing platforms utilizing the power of sight, sound and motion. But Web 3 empowers people to not only own their own data, but the wider opportunity to decide how their data will be used in a brand and media relationship of commerce, connection and community. Perhaps Web 3 should be called Web Me! But we can discuss that another time.

One way I think about the freshness of immersive technologies like VR, AR, and Metaverse is simply this. AR is an internal personal expression, just for you. VR and Metaverse are designed for community, sharing, participating. And as we currently have a physical and digital separation, these technologies are blurring those lines. Oh and it’s not the Digital versus Real, for many “deep digital immersive experiences are “real”.

Beyond the compelling topics and the wonder of the Techlab, it was reconnecting with old friends and igniting new friendships that’s always my favorite part. I always feel quite sad when we need to say goodbye and blend back into our independent lives. Because this is genuinely a wonderful gathering of humans who a both fun and fabulous. And although WPP says this as a “un-conference” it doesn’t mean it’s unorganized. This event is executed flawlessly.

PS: the book recommendations I overheard are genius:

Collective Illusions

Hate Inc

Content Trap

The Master Switch



WPP Stream

The @WPP (un)conference for (un)conventional thinkers