Once again, we visited the always excellent Web Summit Lisbon, an annual technology conference described by the New York Times as “a grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests.”
Web Summit, for us, represents two clear opportunities. Firstly, a chance to sharpen up our understanding of emerging technologies, and secondly, the ability to bring new ideas and alternative ways of thinking and working back to the wider Kyan team. So let’s get straight into it. Here’s Chris, Nick, Rebecca and Tom with their highlights from this year’s trip.
Chris Cannacott, Head of Production
I enjoyed the discussion on ‘Is your tech stack killing your productivity?’ with Yuhki Yamashita (CPO at Figma) and Arvind Jain (CEO at Glean). It really highlighted the need for company-wide decisions on your productivity tech stack to reduce ‘toggle tax’ and make your working practices as effortless as possible.
It might be obvious, but I’ve come to realise that we’re all in the same boat when it comes to remote/hybrid working. There wasn’t anyone at the conference with a big idea that we haven’t thought about. So it’s refreshing to hear that others in the space, even those lauded for their ways of working, are facing the very same challenges we are.
Rhino horn is the most expensive commodity on the black market. Oh, a tech-based fact? You toggle between software 1,200 times a day!
Nick Linnell, Head of Engineering
For pure entertainment value it was ‘The future of crypto: What's next for this craze?’ with Molly White (creator at Web3 is Going Just Great), Ben McKenzie (actor and journalist at Slate) and Charles Hoskinson (founder at Cardano). We got to see the passion Charles has for the crypto community and the good he believes it can do, whilst Ben and Molly put up valiant counter arguments. You couldn't help but come away thinking it really is time for the crypto world to be taken more seriously.
Probably NFTs and what they will really be used for. It was great to hear William Quigley (co-founder & CEO at WAX) and Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel (co-founder & CEO at Arianee) talk about their real world utility rather than just as an exclusive avatar image.
Imperva CEO Pam Murphy talked about the prevalence of ‘bad’ bots on the internet and how of the 220 million users on Twitter, only about 500,000 accounts have actually been verified as real.
Rebecca Brennan, COO
‘To infinity and beyond: Best use cases in Web3.’ As a pragmatist, I wanted to be better able to advise clients how Web3 could change their businesses in the real world. So this panel debate was my favourite talk, including c-level representation from Unstoppable Domains, RLY Network Association and Serotonin, and hosted by a senior reporter from Digiday.
Web3 is being adopted quicker than web 2.0. Every company will end up a Web3 company, it’s just a matter of when. Web3 will involve the whole company, not just a department, so we need to be interdisciplinary businesses. Web3 is still about what the customer wants, not the technology, so how useful is the jargon, really? Let's focus on the customer need.
The term ‘Web3’ was coined by Polkadot founder and Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014, referring to a "decentralised online ecosystem based on blockchain", but it didn’t gain popularity until 2021.
Tom Marshall, Head of Technology
It feels we might be living through a watershed moment for generative artificial intelligence, with AI tools having conversations, drawing images and even creating videos – all from simple text prompts.
With that in mind, hearing the father of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky, discuss its limitations with AI scientist Gary Marcus was fascinating. As far as they’re concerned GPT-3 is a useful tool, but they were pretty disparaging about its scientific impact, as well as the limitations and biases of its statistical-based model.
I like hearing both sides of an argument, so having spent four days hearing how AI was ready to change the world, it was great to hear some contrast on what it’s not ready to do. At least not yet, anyway.
On the more practical side of things, hearing Vercel’s Guillermo Rauch discuss how edge computing is bringing near-static performance to dynamically generated web content is something I’m very excited about, particularly given our fondness at Kyan for Next.js.
There’s some debate on the exact figure, but it’s generally agreed that NFT market trading volumes have fallen between 97-99% from their peak.
Our fondness for Lisbon and the Web Summit conference still burns bright. It truly is an incredible experience, not only as a location and an event, but as a collective experience where we can come together as a team, no matter our abilities or understanding, and apply what we learn to how we work.
If you’re on the fence about getting back into the conference habit, we really encourage you to do so. Our advice: take a broad cross-section of your agency team, and at the very least, have a wash-up meeting and write a wrap-up blog on your return. Even better: set some objectives based on your learnings.
There is so much promise, opportunity and excitement in technology right now, so it’s important to learn it, master it and most of all, work with it.
Peace, Portugal. ✌️🇵🇹
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