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Image / Editorial

Dublin Web Summit Day One


by Ellie Balfe
05th Nov 2014
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The geeks shall inherit the Earth

The buzz at the fourth Web Summit in Dublin’s RDS is unreal. Tech, web and digital in all its forms are here. Investors, founders, creators, coders, journalists, inventors, marketers and bloggers merge and network. That said, it’s not just those categories here. Anyone who is interested in the future of the world and how it is likely to pan out, is here too. Because there is no doubt that this is the future.

I had the pleasure of hosting one of the START delegates pub crawls on Monday night, where over 500 people were guided around the city for a few hours (and that was just from the START group – thousands more were floating around too), we drank Guinness, ate at the Storehouse, chatted, bantered and blarney-d! Everyone I chatted to had a great product, that came from a great idea they decided to pluck up the courage and follow through with.

One fact that I find displeasing though, is that of 22,000 people here, only 15% of them are women. Eva Longoria, in her conversation with Vanity Fair editor-at-large, Jemima Kahn, echoed this concern. She offered a smart, engaging point of view on women in tech and advised (quite rightly) that we must strive to ?lift women up?, we must take responsibility to get involved in tech and digital – otherwise men will carry on sitting at the highest levels in companies. Coding and strategising (aka the future) will carry on being written by men without enough female influence. Still.

She advised we mentor each other, that we check in with each other, that we move things along and into the digital space more and more. Personally, these are exactly my thoughts ?I’m enrolling my daughter in CoderDojo as soon as she turns six next year. For her extra-curricular activities, she will learn music and code – that covers all the bases for me!

Eva spoke more of how it’s vital to study and to engage in the democratic process, she spoke of using one’s vote and being switched on when it comes to thinking of the future. She studied for her Masters while on set between takes.

Desperate Housewife? Not so much.

Other fascinating talks I attended were at the Marketing Stage, on how the digital space is progressing, how brands are using it, how people are engaging with it and sharing content. How consumers are frequently the content creators now – by sharing content on your Facebook page, you are becoming a brand ambassador for whomever you are sharing. It’s exciting how the digital world has opened up a two way street between brands and their users. I listened to heads at Facebook, Outbrain, Ad Age, The Financial Times, Instagram, Wired and Beyonc?’s Head of Digital, Lauren Wirtzer as they discussed and dissected topics.

I sat at the Sports Summit, which is set in a gorgeous old spiegeltent as a panel discussed the passion of sports fan engagement. I watched as so many young, eager and smart start-ups got their message out and hoped to be the next story told as the Uber one is bandied around this week. You heard that, right? Uber pitched to an investor in Bruxelles pub off Grafton Street two summits ago and later that night signed a deal for over 20 million dollars. That stuff is happening here – it’s exciting, it’s inspiring and I, for one, love it!

It’s a slick operation (despite the ironically bad Wi-Fi) and my hat is off to Paddy Cosgrave and his army for what they have done.

Check in tomorrow for more tales from the summit.

If you’re there, tweet me @elliebalfe and say hi

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