The Web Summit Awakening

 20151104_155706 20151104_230845_LLS_resizedHaving taken the weekend to recuperate from the Web Summit and of course the Night Summit fervor I’m finally documenting my reflections on the amazing Web Summit held last week that I finally got the chance to check out as a volunteer. This provided the perfect opportunity to meet new people and innovators through that experience but also hear from amazing leaders in the tech space. And wow inspired I was!

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As someone doing a PhD in Web Science and currently figuring out how to combine economic geography with business innovation in an interdisciplinary way to understand business models on the web this was like being a chocolate lover at the Willy Wonka, chocolate factory! It brought to life so much of what I have been researching yet emphasised just how much research is still needed. I am currently focusing on ‘sharing economy’ or ‘on-demand’ models online, but there are so many different terms and  interpretations of what that is. They can be peer to peer (P2P), business to business (B2B) or even consumer to business (C2B) nowadays and they are continually emerging to solve every-day nagging human and business problems.20151104_230836_LLS_resized

At the Web Summit I got a chance to speak to so many of them and learn even more not only on my subject but on topics as diverse as the Internet of Things, Gaming, Music and Entertainment, Marketing, Machines, Coding, Fintech and much much more. You can have a look at the schedule on the Web Summit website and the video of talks from center stage are available on the Web Summit YouTube Channel. There were also TV stars (Davos Seaworth from the Game of Thrones), sport stars, and  well known authors like Dan Brown wandering around and voicing their views on tech. The Nasdaq Closing Bell even rang at the Careers Summit. There was also the welcome announcement that the Web Summit would be giving away 10,000 tickets to women entrepreneurs to attend their events. This is a brilliant step in helping to address gender diversity in tech which will benefit women and by default wider society as well.

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No matter how advanced communication technology gets, the magic of face to face interaction really cannot be replaced. The buzz at the Web Summit was overwhelming and electrifying. The social and networking element seemed to be as important as the tech that brought everyone together with many opportunities available for socialising, most notably the Night Summit. This provided for the unpredictability of serendipity for those truly in search of it. I hope I get the chance to attend yet again in Lisbon next year or one of their events in America, Hong Kong or India!

The Real World Web OR The Internet of Things?

Wilgengebroed on Flickr CC BY 2.0

Wilgengebroed on Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Real World Web Or the Internet of Things – which term do you prefer? A report by PSFK Labs and Intel released this year refers to the Internet of Things as the Real World Web and for good reason. If you have never heard of the Internet of Things this report is a great introduction. The web we created has a symbiotic relationship with the real world and it is important to acknowledge the interconnectedness of what we do and how we impact each other when we use it. The word ‘Things’ in the “Internet of Things” suggests a generic randomness without a perception of how it relates to what we want and need. The term ‘Internet’ conjures up thoughts of going online and mouthing technical details without really understanding how we and our socio-economic systems impact the technology and viceversa.

Many use the terms Internet and Web interchangeably because they don’t understand the difference. The report says “We are living inside the internet of things”. If we are all living inside of it we need to understand it.

The report categorises the Real World Web into three distinct areas and gives some compelling and thought provoking examples to illustrate how each is developing.

Source: PSFK - REAL WORLD WEB Living Within The Internet of Things

Source: PSFK – REAL WORLD WEB
Living Within The Internet of Things

COMMUNITY NET

“The development of a new set of software platforms and tools is building a growing network of individuals, sensors and wearable devices around the open exchange of real-time information streams”. Think of intuitive programming and sharing of data for the collective good.

Examples?

EMPATHY TECH

“A new breed of social and attentive machines are being meaningfully integrated into daily life. These devices and systems are capable of understanding a wider range of human needs and behaviors to provide relevant assistance and support at key moments, which opens the possibility of more intimate relationships with the objects in our lives”

Examples?

CONSCIOUS PLANET

“A new breed of social and attentive machines are being meaningfully integrated into daily life. These devices and systems are capable of understanding a wider range of human needs and behaviors to provide relevant assistance and support at key moments, which opens the possibility of more intimate relationships with the objects in our lives.

Examples?

You can read the report to find out more.

The spotlight has been increasingly focused on the ethical implications of the technology that we use post Snowden and this is timely. Ignoring the delicate balance of privacy versus access comes at huge cost and so finding ways to move forward ethically is of paramount importance. The personalisation of services and the protection of the personal are both important.

Many of these products and services are developed and brought to market by corporations and research institutes that are concentrated in rich parts of the world. Imagine the type of innovation that could occur if more users in different countries not only had access (See Why ‘Access’ Will Define the Internet of Things) but could create, with an understanding of what was possible and with the tools necessary to act upon those ideas both in their local communities and globally. They could innovate not just offline but online. However, overcoming the problems that arise with heavy handed government surveillance, which will inevitably increase as more of these services are made available the world over is not easy.

The business model premised on data grabbing needs parameters. Should we allow this sticky, tangled web, that we are weaving to trap us, or will we ensure that we design one that does not. We must learn lessons from the web as it evolves to make sure it doesn’t. Talking about the Real World Web is indeed a positive step in helping to explain the reality of the Internet of Things we live in, yet we need to do much more.