It is a huge conference!
Web Summit is the biggest technology conference in Europe which happens for 3 days. This year it has 90000 attendees and 1200 speakers. Lisbon becomes a very busy city during these 3 days of the conference.
Photo: Center stage during the inaugural ceremony
Several tracks to choose from
The tracks for web summit are developed to cater different interests. You can find at least one track that you would want to spend most of the day. To name a few of the tracks : Auto/Tech & Talk Robot, Startup University, SaaS Monster, Women in Technology etc with a total of 21 tracks!
To get an overview of different tracks and talks, checkout the agenda for 2018 : https://websummit.com/schedule
We have to mention that given a big choice of tracks it does result in “Choice Paralysis”. There are so many talks to choose from and you have to end up sacrificing some to make it to some other talks.
That sounds chaotic?
This conference sure is at a very large scale. But fear not! It is the most smoothest experience of a conference that we have ever seen. Even with the huge crowd, wait times in queues was never beyond 4-5mins. The organizers seem to know how to organize the chaos 🙂
Did we attend all the talks we wanted to?
To answer simply, NO… we did not get to attend all the talks we wanted to!
It is easy to get diverted or confused on which track or talk to choose given there is a lot going on in there. The best option we have chosen was to split among ourselves in the talks we wanted to attend and exchange notes at the end of the day over a nice green wine!
It is not all just talks and sessions!
Web Summit packed a whole bunch of experiences for the attendees. Apart from talks there are also stalls set up by different companies to try out their products. My favourite one was the AR escape room built by a company which was thrilling experience. Evenings are filled with several fun packed events that can expand your enjoyment like a live band performances, a night celebration at the infamous Pink Street etc.
Photo: Pink Street, art display at the venue, Pineapple drink @food court in the venue
Photo: Live band performance on sunset summit, venue for evening summit
Web Summit was an opportunity to make conversations with many companies and exchange ideas. There were many startups at the display to explain their projects and get people involved in their activities.The viability of different ideas were discussed, which was very cool. Overall, it was a great platform to speak to many people from all over the world who were interested in building their own unique ideas and solutions for existing problems.
Quality of the talks
Like any big conference, the talks of this conference got mixed reviews too. Some of the talks like “A contract for the web” by Sir Tim Berners Lee gave some thought provoking details and are the kind of talks that attract the audience. This conference also invited the world’s first AI robots Sophia The Robot and Han The Robot to discuss about the future of robots.
Most talks were time-boxed to about half an hour which often did not allow much in-depth discussion of the topics. This would also make sense from the standpoint that the Web Summit is supposed to attract a wider crowd with a diverse background. Hence the topics cannot scratch much more than the surface but should at least inform the audience. At times, the talks ended up not exactly living up to their almost click-baity description, either since they ended up being more of Q&As with a host. It should also be mentioned the most of the talks on the central stage were marketing gigs in which the various companies could present their brands in a shiny light. I (Philipp L) would like to emphasize the talk of Microsoft, which promoted a digital Geneva Convention with dubious arguments that were not explained.
Photo: Sophia The Robot, Fidelidade robot dog, Quantum Computing device by IBM
We are thoroughly impressed by the amount of caring went into planning this conference. They have ensured to give discount for Women in IT to encourage more women attendees, have put a conscious effort to ensure speaker gender balance and reduce the food and plastic wastage.
Sightseeing in Lisbon
Lisbon has great views to offer to the tourists. After the conference some of us stayed back for the weekend to enjoy this city and take in its beautiful scenery. Our recommendation is to walk on the walls of the São Jorge Castle, visit the aquarium and the district Alfama. The famous Pastéis de Nata is good reason to visit the Pastéis de Belém and the tower of Belém right next to it.
|Planning to attend the next Web Summit?
Below are some tips from our personal experience