I came home a few days ago from my first tech conference, Web Summit 2018, and I thought I’d share my thoughts about it from the point of view of a newcomer to the industry.
It is crazy!
I’ve been to large photography conferences before, but Web Summit is massive in a whole different scale. I’m talking almost 70.000 attendees, 3 full-days of talks and workshops, a ton of startups, and people of the caliber of Tony Blair and Tim Berners-Lee giving presentations.
I saw practical applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence today and how they might shape our future and that, in and of itself, was fantastic.
I’ve been very focused on learning front end development, and never gave much thought to ML and AI. It all sounded like industry jargon to me, something that only ultra-science folks did. Now I can’t stop thinking of ways in which AI and ML could improve my day-to-day life.
I was also amazed at all the startups and the brilliant ideas people come up with, in the most different fields. For developers looking for jobs in Europe, Web Summit is probably one of the best places to network and find a new position.
From a beginner’s point of view, I came back home inspired and with a much better understanding of technology and future trends, but I can’t say I got a ton of practical knowledge. It really is, first and foremost, a networking event.
The ticket price is evidence of that. Priced from 850€ per attendee (not to mention lodging, food and other travel expenses), I feel very few consultants, freelancers and students are able to afford a ticket. Most people were there because their companies were covering their expenses.
I was lucky enough to get a ticket as part of the Women in Tech initiative. Basically, they offered 10k tickets at a discounted price of 84€ (yep, you read that right) and for that price TWO women could attend. This means I actually paid 42€ for my ticket!
Overall, I loved the summit, but I don’t think I’ll be attending it for the next couple of years, and instead I will check out some smaller conferences specifically about CSS and JS.