Websummit 2015 Centre Stage

20k Steps, My Websummit 2015 Day 3 Recap

The last day, innovation, insights, inspiration, emotion and goodbyes. These are my highlights of day 3 of the websummit 2015 and my take on where its exit leaves us.

Video Is Breaking The Internet

Today, the Code stage came into existence. One of the more insightful talks today was here, given by James Kretchmar of Akamai. The CDN company delivers 15–30% of internet traffic everyday at 30 TB per second. James’ talk introduced Akamai’s State Of The Internet quarterly report describing the latest trends as encountered and analysed by Akamai on their network.

James Kretchmar of Akamai

The talk contained some amazing stats like there were 1274 attacks on the network in 2014 using between 10 to 100 GB per second bandwidth. The largest distributed attack peaked at 320 GB per second bandwidth. Also, in the past 4 years, video traffic has grown exponentially to 24 TB per second usage. This growth, when projected out reaches 25000 TB per second in a short amount of time in the future. According to James, this will obviously break their network and thus a large portion of the internet. Thankfully, Akamai and others are working on delivering all that video more effectively using a variety of means such has hybrid HTTP/UDP, Multicast, intelligent pre-positioning ofthe data, pier assisted delivery and by pushing more intelligence to the edge of the delivery networks.

The Most Emotionally Inspiring Talk of The Week — Kano

The Code stage was at capacity today and seats were hard to come by. I ended up at the top in the very back row. As I made my way down the steps to head towards the Society stage, Alex Klein, co-founder of Kano started his talk. I made it half way before sitting back down, enthralled at the inspirational and energetic nature of Alex.

Alex Klein, CEO of Kano

I knew of Kano and have bought one as a gift but listening to the history and motivations of Kano was very inspiring. Kano aim to make it as easy as using Lego for kids to build, code and hack a computer. They’ve extended this mission from the hardware kit, to a drag and drop python coding framework and onto a safe online community network called world.kano.me where kids can share their open source Kano creations. Alex noted that 8.2 billion devices exist but only 50 million of us know how to talk to them. The rest are stuck in the matrix, consuming and interacting with closed content in a closed system. Kano wants to release kids from the matrix giving them the skills to code and create in a safe learning environment. To date, 8 million lines of code have been shared by kids on world.kano.me.

I’m a big fan of education and the empowerment it enables. Education is the key to unlocking potential and facilitating this is very emotionally inspirational to me. Kano have succeeded in capturing and packaging the excitement and revelation of possibility all of us coders experienced the first time we wrote a hello world or printed a text string to a command console. Delivering this to thousands of children across the world and providing the nurturing environment for them to learn, experiment and collaborate is a staggering altruistic achievement and deserves to be commended.

Writing At 4am Every Day — Dan Brown

Peter Kafka of Re/code interviewed Dan Brown on the Centre stage today which gave a surprisingly interesting insight into Dan Brown’s routine.

Dan Brown

He gets up at 4am and writes every day. The quietness of early morning combined with the proximity between dream state and writing state were given by Dan as reason for this daily routine. A high level of quality control is also a key element of Dan’s writing routine. The advice he shared for all budding novelist is to produce your work for you, not for other people.

The Future Is Here — Hyperloop

The most awe-inspiring talk for me this week was the Hyperloop talk on the Centre stage. Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop and Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital announced that Hyperloop has secured $26m investment and is on track for their $80m investment goal by the end of 2016.

Shervin Pishevar & Rob Lloyd

For those who don’t know about Hyperloop, it is a futuristic type of transport where pods travel in steel tubes on pockets of air at 750mph. A white paper by Elon Musk popularised the concept and spurred the creation of Hyperloop Inc. The technology exists today to build and deliver the hyperloop but Hyperloop Inc are innovating on the build and implementation technology to make the transport system more cost effective. The aim is to have 3 city hyperloop systems in place by 2020. Speaking about the potential disruption delivered by the hyperloop, Rob and Shervin described how cities can be reimaging and recategorised. The hyperloop compresses space and time, it will make the world a village again. A commute of hundreds of miles now becomes possible. Freight logistics and process workflows reduce from weeks and months to days or even the same day. Subaqua and subterranean connections disrupt the ancient geographical paradigm and profile of ports and cities. The introduction of the hyperloop as a main transport option will also help to drastically reduce global pollution. The top 15 cargo ships in the work cause more pollution than all the cars on the planet. The innovative jump that Hyperloop will make in the world of transport is like something from The Jetsons. I can’t help but wonder is this what it was like right before trains went mainstream in the 1800s.

Old Farts Come From Young Farts — Ed Catmull

The closing keynote for websummit 2015 was the incredibly interesting Ed Catmull of PIXAR. During his interview, he described the creative reprogramming that took place in Disney animation to take it from a failing to successful studio. It took 4 hours to describe the new creative company principles to the Disney executives but it took 4 years to implement.

Ed Catmull

When asked how he balances between business seriousness and creative silliness, Ed shared how early in his career he became worried about becoming an old fart. Thankfully for us all, his observations of his older and younger colleagues brought him to the conclusion that your outlook and personality is yours no matter what your age, and if you’re a young fart than you’re more than likely going to become an old fart.

Slán Baile Átha Cliath, Olá Lisboa

Paddy’s closing remarks came just before Ed Catmull’s interview. During his address, Paddy thanked those in Dublin and around the country that supported the websummit over the last 5 years. He emphasised that the websummit is an Irish company, with a HQ that will stay in Dublin and that hopefully someday the websummit can return to Dublin if the door is open.

Paddy Cosgrave’s Closing Remarks

When the government correspondence emails were released I was livid at the old world thinking of the government. I couldn’t understand why they would let such a large shining light for the promotion of Ireland leave. The potential of what the websummit facilitates within the tech ecosystem in Dublin and Ireland, not to mention the money brought into the economy during the 3 days, to me is very valuable and an annual advertisement for the “best little country in the world to do business”.

Of course I realise that there are multiple sides to every argument. The websummit is a business and moving to Lisbon is a great level-up in my view. A new city is a new refresh in a new ecosystem with a (somewhat) new set of attendees. The RDS was at breaking point in dealing with the scale of attendees this year compared to the previous 2 years, so better infrastructure will benefit the experience of all attendees. And as for the wifi…

The tech ecosystem of Ireland will not crumble with the exit of the websummit, far from it, but it certainly will leave a hole. There are winners and losers out of this whole mess. Paddy and the websummit are clearly the winners with a growing multinational business in demand. Ireland is the loser here. We lost face by having the pettiness of the government’s old world view exposed to everyone. We lost by having our national broadcaster “herrang” Daire Hickey in a very disrespectful interview. We lost the ability to advertise and promote Ireland as a destination for investment and tourism and culinary excellence to a captive audience of 30,000+ attendees and their respective media and news organisations pretty much for free. Over the 3 days this year for example, I witnessed CNBC film interviews with startups, food producers and attendees at the RDS and around Dublin all day long.

Worst of all, we lost because the ingrained begrudgery of modern Irish society reared its ugly head for the world to see. Ryan Tubridy commented on the situation today that Ireland is a nation of “ wing clippers”. He postulated that the media need to back off a bit but the websummit guys need to also “rein their necks in a little”. These comments and what they epitomize, to me are both maddening and so so disappointing. The websummit guys took their business from nothing to become an Irish powerhouse on the global tech stage. They’ve ruffled plenty of feathers before this year and done things I don’t agree with, but they’ve gotten ahead and produced positive results for Ireland in the process. Instead of being congratulated, supported and maybe even exploited by the establishment and the population, they are denounced, ridiculed and almost disowned by many outside the tech industry. The fact that the Irish psyche is more at home with denigration than commendation is what disappoints the most. So few are natural thought leaders and boundary pushers. So few put value in potential and possibility. So many yearn to put someone back in their place or take someone down a notch :-(

I took over 69,000 steps and walked over 46km around the RDS and Dublin as part of Websummit 2015.

For me, it provided inspiration and confidence in the possibilities of what can be achieved.

Hopefully reading this and my Day 1 & Day 2 recaps helped you share this experience :-)


About Me

I’m a web consultant, contract web developer and technical project manager originally from Cork and now based in Swansea, South Wales. A lot of my work is done with clients in Ireland & the UK, where I offer strategy, planning and technical delivery services. I also offer freelance CTO services to companies in need of technical bootstrapping or reinvention. If you think I can help you in your business, check out my details on http://darylfeehely.com.

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