Backtick @ Web Summit 2018 — Developer impressions and insights
Web Summit is the largest tech conference in the world, attracting around 70 000 attendees from 159 countries. More than 1800 exciting startups and 1200 speakers guarantee you will never find yourself without something to do!
I often found myself wanting to go to two different talks or workshops at the same time, so planning and prioritization is key to survive. The venue is huge and if you think that your 10 minutes gap between two talks is enough for a coffee break and relocation to the other stage — it’s not. Especially for popular talks where all seats might get occupied. However, all talks are available online so there’s no real stress, but if you’re like me — chances are slim that you’ll watch the talks afterwards, unless there’s something you really wanted to watch, in which case you probably saw it at the event.
It’s a great event to network and get a feel for the current tech industry keywords. This year, there were a few subjects that were given a lot of attention and surrounded by buzz:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Data privacy
- Fake news
- Developer responsibility
- Women in Tech
- Crypto & Blockchain
Despite the fact that the hype for crypto and Blockchain has followed the bitcoin price, the subject was given a lot of attention, but you could see that some of the crypto startups trying to raise capital for their ICO’s weren’t as lucky. I’m happy that the focus has now shifted from getting 100x gains towards actually applying the technology in relevant businesses.
Going to Web Summit as a developer
Web summit is not a very techie conference. If you’re a developer like me, you will find most of the centre stage talks disappointing, since they contain very little technical depth. In this scenario, try some of the workshops at smaller stages. These are mainly tech talks held by technical evangelists and I personally enjoyed the workshops by e.g AWS and Google, which included some live coding and demos, such as Deep learning Demystified by Gabe Hollombe.
Networking & Surf Summit
Networking is where Web Summit really shines. There are so many interesting startup booths to explore and every day is followed by Sunset Summit and Night Summit, giving you space to have a bit more relaxed conversations. There’s also a lot of company events (which are usually invite-only) that you can attend.
To get the most of my networking experience I also attended Surf Summit which is a 2-day pre-conference event, focusing on networking and surfing. Compared to the conference, you had the chance to bump into the same person multiple times, which generally lead to deeper networking. Since the Web Summit venue was so big, the chances to encounter the same person twice was very slim.