I was there only on Friday, so hereby a short recap of this conference.
1. First keynote speach: Robert Scoble
I funny guy who really must have nothing else to do then be connected and online 24/7. He, however, opened my eyes about the fact that by ‘using’ other peoples knowlegde, you become even more knowlegdeable. And for that, you must know who is important and relevant on the Internet (or your area of expertise) and who is not.
His main point was that social services should make the first impression compelling and rich. I cannot agree more. The first impression you get went you enter LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace or Pownce are not the best onces.. You really have to put in a lot of time to come up to speed.
Good presentation (not the best one I have seen, but hey).
2. Six startup pitches
I am not going to do extra work here… Techcrunch made a good analysis of all these pitches. Read them here.
3. Second keynote speach: Werner Vogels
Werner Vogels is Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Amazon.com. His presentation was about ‘uncertainty’. I must say it wasn’t a really compelling speach. Werner told a lot of stuff which is true, but not new. A large part was also about the webservices Amazon.com offers (like Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2). His claim was that start-ups should not waste valuable money on services they could also buy from Amazon at a fairly low rate. Although that makes sense, this speach did not do it for me. I hope that Amazon paid The Next Web to be here as a keynote speaker
4. Third keynote speaker: Garrett Camp
Really the best speach of the day. Garret is founder and chief architect StumbleUpon.com. His presentation was about “The Future of Search and Discovery”. Just too much to tell here in short, I will probably spend a new blogpost on this matter. Main thing for me was the distinction between ‘search’ and ‘discovery’.
Search: people know exactly what they are looking for
Discovery: people want to be entertained or do not really know what they want
Obviously StumbleUpon has everything to do with discovery. The company I currently work for is more into ‘search’ (price comparison). But we certainly must make more room for discovery as well.
5. Six startup pitches (round 2)
Again, go to Techcrunch for a good analysis of all these pitches. Read them here.
6. Fourth keynote speaker: Jessica May
Arghh. I am very sorry but this speach was the worst of the day. Jessica pointed out a lot of true things ( people wanting to receive good recommendations once they bought something, everything is about me, personalize, etc. etc.), but she did not come up with any solution or best practises (except for showing the recommendations of Amazon… yeah great). Recommendating stuff is probably the most difficult thing to be solved and everybody knows that. Moods of people change, people change, people’s life changes, people get in different stages (kid, student, parent, etc.).
Netflix is trying to solve this with a contest, but even a lot of universities and commercial companies are not able to beat there own built ranking by more than 10%. That says it all.
Links she mentioned: mmm, cannot remember any..
7. Last keynote speaker: Chris Saad
Chris is Co-Founder and Chairperson at DataPortability.org and CEO of Faraday Media. Also Co-Founder at Media 2.0 Workgroup and APML Workgroup. A good speach and very interesting as well. He did not really tell anything new, but it was nice to hear him advocate data portability and data operability. Great initiative and I wish him all the best and a lot of support.
After this I left (had to be home on time to pick up the kids). I had a great day, met a lot people and interesting start-ups. I will certainly give a few of them a call!
Finally a few tips for the Next Web Conference:
- Please provide a shuttle bus service next time (Amsterdam CS to Westergasfabriek)
- If you want to promote networking, make the badge readable!! I now had to get into people’s personal space to read from which company they were.
- Provide some sort of system so that the audience can ‘press fast forward’ or ‘get off the podium’. Especially for the pitches of the start-ups. Some were really lousy…