At the Next web, a huge number of tech people (15.000 according to the organizers) gathered in Amsterdam, and I was one of them. It was a wonderful day full of inspirational talks and interesting ideas, and I’m glad I got to experience it.
For the conference talks, I first attended the Project You track, which focused on productivity, confidence, work-life balance and related topic. Overall, this was a great track, especially for a relatively new developer like me, who still needs to find their feet in the tech world. From this track, I was most inspired by Holley Murchison’s talk “Become Who You Are”. She talked about how you can be better at presenting yourself as a complete person with interests, values, aspirations, skills and achievements. Especially in a business context, we are often so inclined to focus on only the last two in that list, but just those are only a small part of what makes someone who they are. I still need to find the best way to present and introduce myself, and this talk raised some excellent points to help with this.
After this, I listened to some of the talks in the Creative Commons track, because I am fascinated by the intersection of code and art, and would like to know more about ways to combine the two, both inside and outside of work. In this track, my favourite talk by far was by Zach Lieberman, an artist and co-founder of the School of Poetic Computation in New York. He spoke about his process and the value of his daily sketches. The main point I took away from his talk - and this is applicable to much more than just art and code - was Always be Iterating: Don’t worry too much about being completely original; build on previous work and change (and perhaps improve) some things. Exploring different variations of an idea or a problem, can lead to much better solutions.
Of course there was much more to see than just the speakers. The Expo area was full of ambitious startups and established companies showing off their latest innovations. I especially enjoyed seeing the startups that are trying to make the world a better place. The Chivas Venture pavilion showcased many of these businesses, ranging from a coffee company specifically aimed at retraining homeless people to be baristas, to a braille e-reader, and from a delivery service for food made by refugees, to a sustainable biotechnology company. It was very inspiring to see that there are still many people out there with ideas that are more than another social network, or the 100th cryptocurrency business of the day.
If you add to all this the amazing weather and food trucks full of delicious food, it almost felt like a festival, although I’m sure this was much more useful and educational. Overall, The Next Web was a big success for me, and I bet most of the 15.000 other attendees would agree!