On top of the Web Summit: our takeaways
No better place to be this week than in Lisbon. Same as each year, this beautiful city hosts Web Summit. The conference every tech aficionado must experience at least once in a lifetime. And that’s exactly what our Client Partner, Yannis, did. Walk with him while he shares his main impressions from Web Summit 22.
Thanks to In The Pocket, I was able to attend the Web Summit for the first time. I learned a lot during those first days, foremost the importance of trust - even when the sky was falling apart…
But even when everything was put on hold for more than an hour, the audience (that wasn’t immediately below the loose parts) stayed put and gazed at the stage. No better testament to the trust we put in what Web Summit has in store for us. And yes, our patience was rewarded…
Virtual Assistants to the background
Speaking about trust… Can we trust AI to not lead us to a future where we’re not just used as batteries for a machine that produces paper clips? Amazon’s Rohit Prasad put our minds at ease that at least that’s not the goal for Alexa. He wants people to bond with this virtual assistant - and interestingly, children and older people tend to trust and expect most of this human-AI relationship.
In an age of digital overload of distraction, Alexa’s way of ‘disappearing’ (ambient intelligence and reducing cognitive load) rather than permanently trying to grab our attention is certainly something worth noting. Could this point to a shift from attention-craving to working-in-the-background tech? Or just a promo talk? Curious to see where that’s headed.
If you’re intrigued by these topics, make sure to watch his full speech right here.
New media vs old media
Elon Musk’s plans with Twitter left almost no one untouched. It even became prominent during the panel on how Gen Z consumes news. For this generation, the question doesn’t seem to be whether Elon can be trusted, but rather “do they even care?”
Young people spend a lot more time on other platforms that raise doubts about moderation. For example, there has been a huge increase in news consumption on TikTok. Gen Z favours platforms that allow for many different voices and points of view and the freedom to find their own truth. Not only via TikTok but also on Snapchat, Twitch, OnlyFans… The big question here is: how can classical media & journalism position themselves in a way to earn the trust of Gen Z?
More time online, more room for empathy?
Considering the world’s challenges, you can ask yourself how we can spend our time differently, with a bigger role for compassion and empathy? Well, it’s possible. But it’s not easy. As TED curator Chris Anderson showed us later that day, we have 2 creatures inside of us (fellow fans of Star Wars and psychologist Daniel Kahneman will appreciate his approach):
- First, we have Jabby - an impulsive creature that will turn into Jabba the Hutt if we let him…
- But then there is also Yodel (a young female Yoda) - call her our more reflective, enlightened self
As creators of digital products and experiences, we should ask ourselves: which inner creature are we optimizing the UX for? Big Tech has created attention factories that feed Jabby. But to tackle the world’s challenges we need to nurture Yodel. TED’s Chris Anderson gives the following design tips:
- Time: rather than try to create perpetual engagement, allow the user a moment to pause and reflect (by doing this Twitter was able to reduce hateful posts by 30%)
- Mindset: rather than reinforce people’s pre-existing convictions, stimulate curiosity
- Medium: when stimulating human interaction, move from text to talk (it’s proven that hearing a voice stimulates empathy and reflection)
- Visibility: make sure that messages about fear and danger don’t crowd out the better things in life
People are not idiots
Heavy stuff right? Luckily not all speakers implored us to fix life’s problems. The founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales started off by recognising one of the major insights of Friedrich Hayek: it’s more costly to centralise information than to leave decision-making in the periphery.
Assuming good trust and the fact that most people aren’t angry idiots, Wikipedia was set up with an open governance model that didn’t devolve into anarchy. A nice tale of how we’re not all too bad. More Yodel than Jabby!
Making collaboration easier
Except for your coworkers when they come flying in and shitting all over a draft version of your work, of course. Yahki Yamashita of Figma (previously of Uber and Youtube) has been there (we all have, let’s be honest) but showed us some useful tips on how to make collaboration easier. Considering everything is a work in progress:
- Try to review work at a predictable cadence versus at the perfect moment
- The form feedback takes is just as important as the feedback itself
- Be less precious about the work that ships
Of course, there was a lot more we saw. The future of fintech and MedTech, the inevitable Metaverse discussions, UI and UX trends in 2023 and beyond, low-to-no-code… We can’t cover it all. But it can be a reason for you to attend the next Web Summit.
See you there?