Web Summit 2014

Day 1

Opening remarks

Opening remarks from Paddy Cosgrave: Uber founder agreed $26m funding with investor over a pint, in evening drinks after Web Summit 2011 – lesson: sometimes you do some clever stuff when you’re drunk 😉

Oculus Rift in Clinical Psychology

Oculus Rift being used in PTS treatment by simulating warzones to help sufferers relive their memories but with a trained psychologist clinician to help them come to terms with their feelings and shock. Cool 🙂

Mini stage presentations

Cool Beta startup Keecker (or something) -> hub of sensors, camera, wheels, speakers. All household entertainment in one. Project images onto surfaces. E.g. show Bahamas on your ceiling whilst playing bongo bongo and then Keecker drives into your lounge to project news onto wall whilst you eat breakfast.

Cool Beta startup Autoview or something or rather -> install a suite of cameras to film basketball matches. They automatically track the ball, understand gameplay so as when to zoom in, make recordings for replays. Provide video for third party services in real time, e.g. for stats analysis.

“Wait for it” by creator of Sinatra – Blake Mizerany

Talk from ex-Heroku engineer and maker of Sinatra framework. Make the components of your system small so that it’s easier to kill them. Kill them ASAP. As soon as you deploy something to your system, it’s your job to try and make it redundant through some finer implementation or simpler solution to the same problem.
Don’t be aggressive: “We’re going to definitely need this later!!!”, when you can solve the problem simply NOW. Scale your dependency to an implementation as you scale to solving the full problem. Don’t start with a frikkin huge implementation. #separationofconcerns #scaling #dependencies

Eva Longoria raises women’s issues

Q&A with Eva Longoria. Women are under-represented in film and that’s because they aren’t getting behind the camera, writing the stories and the scripts that they want to act. It’s the same in computing. We must overturn taboos and encourage women to sit on both sides of the fence. Women are put into containers: Mom, Young, Single, Married, Ambitious, etc. They can’t be all of them at once. How can we overhaul the attitudes we have towards women that are engrained in culture? This wasn’t really broached. We will transcend the egoistic in this century, as technology helps us to empathise. This reduces the perceived differences between us all, differences we invent to preserve the idea that we are each special, as if this is somehow useful (?).

Why do we all live in such an egocentric mindset? I think it’s cos it’s more difficult to empathise than to accept your instinctive point of view. Like a hierarchy of needs, you need to get the basic things right: have a lot of energy to really concentrate for extended periods of time, have the time to relax and destress because deep concentration isn’t sustainable, no stress to get food, water, pay the bills etc. THEN, you are more free to think of things other than yourself, to make the effort to see things from another point of view, and then be able to see the bigger picture.

Hackers are kickass

Talk by Pablos Holman: badass hacker works for Bill Gates Foundation. Hackers don’t read rule books, they just try and break things, by piling into every single part of the protocol diagram of the system. This is what makes a good hacker. They drove around a two wheeled wifi scanning box with a tablet on top and it would hack the wifi networks in sight and display the password on the tablet LOL. He tracked all the bluetooth connections at a conference so that he could trace people’s movement around the conference and see the security lead at Microsoft getting bored and walking from room to room LOL. He encourages us to stop making bollocks apps with our technology and start trying to save the world and make a difference, because even the bottom 99% in America are the top 14% in the world. Get over your not-so-shitty-life-you-noob.

Day 2

How social media is changing conflict

Social media is a force for good, as a means of spreading awareness, and verifying the source of news (e.g. when skilled individuals from the community come together on forums, to verify content together).

However, it is also a means for spreading fear and propagating hoaxes. Terrorist groups try to use social media against itself to turn popular thought in their favour.

Lunchtime: flip side of social media

I’ve just been in the ‘Machine Summit’ area. Loud laughs echo round the room, murmurs of rehearsed chats form the background noise as excited people pace and VCs stalk at a distance before honing in on a startup stand. I choose a bitcoin startup whose laugh’s the loudest. They’re a trading platform for futures and derivatives. The frontman is the incarnation of modern day lust for a superhero body, he’s in-your-face affable and laughs at everything you say in case it’s a joke he hasn’t understood. They use a purpose-built, functional programming language called KDP developed by kx.com for the backend. A joke is made about how Haskell is the pure realisation of lambda calculus, while the frontman laughs that he hasn’t touched lambdas since College. I sign up for email notifications and then float on.

I stand at a table with my food. A man and woman join me. The man’s left eye half shut and unavoidably twitching, he’s come to the conference with his friend, and they’re disarmingly comfortable in themselves. “I’m here for the Machine Summit, I have a take on Open Source farming that will make the effectiveness of farming techniques information in the public domain. I believe we can do better” he says. “I work with companies that are in both film and gaming to help them make their film & game consistent”, “they forget the plot and wind up making a game that isn’t believable for the fans”.

We end up on politics and the news that Hilary Clinton has started her presidential election campaign 2 years before the election day. “97% of campaign winners had had more money than their competitor. It’s about targeting the emotional and having a slicker advertising campaign”. “But what does social media have to say?”. “Oh, people say that social media is a great leveller but it’s bullshit. It’s just a medium to spread your ideas, and it is abused in the race for presidency, funded by the big corporates that want to see certain policies enacted”.

Beyoncé’s Team

Being an artist in music today is very different to pre-social-media-days. Selling records and touring is a smaller and smaller part, social media presence is bigger. Generating quality content is hard. Analysing what fans like helps to think about how to present an artist’s image. Beyoncé uses Instagram a lot which gives her image quite a nice original feel. A lot of artists will make a big effort with social media when they have an upcoming gig or tour but it’s not a great approach. Beyoncé’s team prefer to sustain a channel once they’ve opened it.

Day 3

Successful Entrepreneurs

There are a lot of talks in the style of an interview. It seems there is a common theme with the entrepreneurs that have succeeded.

  1. “Do something that matters”. Really just do something you’re passionate about and other people will get passionate about. Something that makes the world a better place, not just something lucrative. Tech business is about the excitement of what we can achieve, not what money we can make.
  2. Work on your company, refining it, evolving the idea and building the substance before taking it to market. You want to realise your vision before too many people have a say in it.
  3. VCs are investing in the person behind a great idea. The idea almost always changes from whatever it is when it’s pitched. It’s the essence of the idea and the enthusiam and drive of the person behind it that wins over VCs.
  4. VCs are bitter about their wrong decisions from the past that lost them $$$ so you can tell them they’re making the mistake of their life not investing in your company and it’ll make them curl inside.

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