I spent the past few days at 82 Mercer St, Internet Week HQ, for Internet Week New York. It was my first time at the annual event, now in its fifth year, and as a newbie I was both very impressed and a little frustrated.
Let’s start with the good:
The not-so-good were, for starters, logistical in nature. IWNY was over-capacity for just about every panel and definitely every “classroom session” – there was a serious lack of chairs. Considering that the week was in celebration of the world-wide web, internet service was also embarrassingly slow and spotty. The panels tended to be general and rather superficial – while I definitely learned, much of the knowledge fell into the “Oh-that’s-interesting” rather than “Oh-that’s-useful” category.
I think that was the biggest frustration – though perhaps that says more about me than the conference itself. After all, Internet Week’s was billed as ”a festival celebrating NYC’s thriving Internet industry & community.“ And it certainly highlighted the industry – but the panels seemed to stop short of real analysis. I wish it had gone deeper in the topics discussed and questions raised. What does this insight actually tell us about our society? What’s the application of that really interesting technology?
I think it confirmed my professional interests in internet and communication technologies (ICT) – I didn’t start a start-up in ICT because I am inherently enamored of ICT. I actually find the internet to be incredibly distracting, and am still struggling to balance an online presence and an offline life. But I believe that ICT, when used right, has the potential to change the world – and I want to be a part of that.
So for me, it’s all about context and applicability. Internet Week was fantastic for getting me more familiar with the space and understanding what everyone else is doing…and I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level.