Web 2.0 Expo Europe recap 07:10 on Thursday
The next week after Shift’08 (which I wrote about on Monday), I attended Web 2.0 Expo Europe in Berlin. The main reason for me obviously was my speaking engagement (scroll down for more about this). This is a rather long account despite trying to keep it as brief as possible.
The energy at Web 2.0 Expo was completely different from Shift, and mostly provided by the bustling city rather than the conference itself.
First day session on collaboration by Leisa Reichelt was a good reminder of how much effort it actually requires to collaborate well with people. I tend to forget it now that we’re only two people working on projects most of the time and after knowing each other for over ten years we tend to use proven collaboration techniques such as “fierce disagreement”… Might not go down well with everyone.
Group project in Leisa Reichelt’s collaboration workshop, originally uploaded by Alex Dunne.
Tim O’Reilly did his Radar talk and urged everyone to
work on stuff that matters. He told people to aim high, not just higher than others, but as high as possible — maybe even higher. Google was started because the founders “wanted to organize all the information in the world”. Very much the opposite to a Finnish, “let’s start small and expand when we get traction” approach.
After Tuesday’s sessions there was a bit of time to mingle with the conference participants and enjoy a glass of wine. Thanks and “hi” to everyone I met! We finished the day by crashing the Pitch Party, and got in without invitations by promising we would leave when it got crowded — that would never happen in Finland. Eric & Alex of SoundCloud deserve a special mention for inviting everyone for dinner afterwards and talking 12 people into the restaurant, despite having a reservation for seven.
I spent the Wednesday morning in the hotel room — not because of the dinner the previous night — but because I wanted to go through my presentation once more. My day started with the entertaining keynote presentation by Rafi Haladjian of Violet, explaining their threefold plan:
- Connect Rabbits (their first product is the Nabaztag)
- Connect everything else
While waiting for my presentation to commence, Ben Hammersley’s keynote echoed Tim O’Reilly’s words, calling the room “the brightest minds on the web” (or was it on the planet?), and asking people to use their mind to the fullest.. not only for building the next “throw a sheep” Facebook app, but for building great applications and doing them with great concern for quality (amen to that).
And then… I was really nervous about my presentation! Based on the feedback I got two things were clear:
- It went quite well after all, and I managed to inspire a few people (that was my goal)
- This presentation is definitely not for the design-minded 2.0-conscious crowd. The presentation works best for business people who need to be reminded of the human side of things every now and then.
It’s not that the 2.0-conscious crowd wouldn’t need reminding about the importance of user experience, it’s more that the reminders have to be constructed entirely differently.
Here’s the whole deck of slides (now with captions!):
With the presentation out of the way, I felt very relaxed. I skipped the parties and instead went for a quiet dinner in good company.
Thursday was a slow day. The highlight for me was JP Rangaswami‘s talk about 2.0 at work, not so much from a tech perspective (which would have been quite boring), but from the social perspective.. how work, the workplace, and even business practices not only will have to, but will change when the networked generation enter work force.
I especially liked the example of a 20-year old coming to work, being given a lousy computer with “enterprise class” software, which in her eyes is basically unusable crap compared to the stuff that’s freely available on the web. She will think of her home laptop on which she can easily communicate with hundreds of people, set up “meetings” and coordinate events in Facebook, and generally work and collaborate a magnitude of times more effectively. And she will turn on her heels to find a better employer.
And that was it. Like every conference, also this one was worth coming to for the people alone. See you next year!