Web Summit is said to be one of the biggest tech conferences. With over 50,000 attendees, this year was Lisbon's turn to host the event from the 7th to the 10th of November.
First and foremost, what you're about to read expresses my views on what I perceived and retained from the event.
I was present through the whole three days of the conference. I got to watch some of the vast list of talks that took place during the event, go through the "tech expo" multiple times and participate in some of the side events that took place in Lisbon.
Unfortunately, the talks, which should probably be one of the key points here, were far from what would be expected. Some lacked a more detailed approach, others were probably too short to even be relevant, a lot of the panels lacked proper guidance and there were some that were just boring.
I mean, not all of them were bad, if I had to pick a few of them I would mention:
Ethical data (Nathan Eagle / Diogo Monica / Katie Collins Reporter): A panel that spawned an interesting discussion around how companies should use, store and extract it's customer's data.
Open source philosophy (Chris DiBona / Jim Zemlin / Danese Cooper / Kris Borchers: One of the best panels I've probably seen in the event, with a discussion around how will the open source communities evolve and what has been achieved so far. It clearly lacked on some proper guidance though and it was unfortunately too short.
Programming languages: Master of one or Jack of all? (Gautam Rege / PJ Hagerty): A talk/discussion style presentation around how you should structure your skill set when it comes to programming languages (should you master one? learn many?). Although it can sometimes be a pointless discussion, given that you should always favour the "how to do it" and not "what tools (programming languages) to use", we all know that in the real world the "how good you are with your tools" plays a big part.
The future of DevOps: Trends & predictions (Steve Brodie / Sid Sijbrandij / Jon Bruner): This was an interesting discussion around what will DevOps probably be in a few years. It just, once more, missed out a lot on not going more in depth.
My point is that, by the end of the event I was expecting to have learned something new or have gained some new perspective into something. Here, unfortunately, that just didn't happen... I mean, it might be fun to watch some personalities speak, or see a cool presentation of what a future with Hyperloop will be, but, by the end of the day as a Software Engineer one would expect to have taken something out of the event and that just didn't happen.
The other side
Of course there's more to the whole event than just talks, or this wouldn't be the place that goes hand to hand with entrepreneurship and tech startups.
For starters, the sheer amount of people is overwhelming and if you're looking to meet new people in the field you sure have a lot of options here! The whole event also has a lot of parties and side events which help to facilitate this kind of get together.
You also have the "tech expo" itself, where some big tech companies are present but the vast majority are newly found businesses looking for a way to get some investment and show of their new product. Might be cool if you're into this or if you've never seen something like it.
The label "tech" is a really broad one and I think Web Summit is a perfect example of this phenomenon. If what you're looking is an event with relevant content in the fields of CS/Software engineering (or any engineering for that matter) and not just random chats around big tech keywords or a (way overpriced) gathering of people which happen to work for tech companies, then I would suggest you that there are way better events for you to attend out there.