Were you at Web Summit 2020? No, thought not. Luckily for you Alan Geere was among the 104,328 attendees at one of the world’s biggest online love-ins and sends this verdict
Sometimes it felt like you had wandered into a zeitgeist TV
show – think ‘Industry’ the BBC2 drama currently airing about life in the
bonking, sorry, banking world – with impossibly attractive and intelligent
young people sharing the secrets of their life in a totally confident and
Of course, there were older people there too.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee (65), casually billed as ‘inventor of
World Wide Web’ was there touting his new business, but grumpy old man of the
day award goes to Norman Pearlstine (79) the outgoing (as in shortly leaving,
not party animal) executive editor of The Los Angeles Times, who
pessimistically presaged the demise of journalism.
“There is an existential crisis of journalism,” he said. “Government
handouts or altruistic benefactors seem the only way to go. Large numbers of
the population do not have the money to pay for information.”
But it wasn’t difficult to see that Norman might have missed
the point. Here were more than a Wembley Stadium-full of people who had paid up
to 999 euros to practise their own individual journalism – listening to
information and weighing up the interest, importance and effect of that
Wed Summit isn’t going to change attitudes and approaches to
journalism and publishing overnight. But like its heavyweight political and
financial counterpart – Davos – anything that treats the problems with both seriousness
and positivity has to be applauded.
And, yes, I’m ready for Web Summit 2021 – hopefully at the
Altice Arena in Lisbon which I hear is very nice in December!