Websummit 2021's Day 2 Highlights by Kirsten & Wilmar

By Wilmar Alex Tax & Kirsten Scholte, 03 November 2021

We - Kirsten & Wilmar - are live at the WebSummit covering its highlights for you (and ourselves of course). This is Day 2. Reuters calls WebSummit is the biggest tech conference in Europe and the Guardian calls it the Glastonbury for Geeks. This is our fourth time here.

Day 2 just ended at the Web Summit. Again so many things to get inspired around such as Obsession over Purpose, 15 minute cities, better data and Metaverse. These are our notes with the highlights.

Forget Purpose. Enter Obsession.

We’re drunk on purpose. Purpose is hot. It’s everywhere. But talking purpose is also easy. Consistency on the other hand is hard. The best purpose driven companies are obsessed. When you're obsessed you can't help yourself but go after your purpose: do it and live by it. Obsession has the potential to change the world, when a company is obsessed incredible things can happen.

"When you obsess, you can learn how to extinguish distractions so that you can concentrate. You accept the hard existential fact that if you intend to matter you must act as if you matter. You refrain your brain, asking it to halt its purpose and fluff and worry, to instead embrace its own potential."

A great example is Patagonia. They're obsessed, they're driven - which makes consistency easy. Purposeful brands aren’t heroes, they’re obsessed. Purpose needs to be in the bones of the organisation. And after you set it, recommit to it. It needs to be part of your DNA.

5 steps to get to become purposeful obsessed:

1. define your purpose
2. alignment it throughout every element in your organisation: hiring, incentives, choice of partners, the work you do
3. commit to it
4. recommit (keep renewing your vows to it)
5. measure it in a transparant way

[Alain Sylvain - Sylvain Labs]

15 minute cities are the only option to survive

The 15-minute city is the urban planning model was developed by French-Colombian scientist Carlos Moreno to help tackle car hegemony and create more sustainable human-centric urban environments. Why this is important?

Cities inhabit 50% of all the people on earth and in 30 years 68% of people will live in cities. Cities are a very efficient way of living and actually might be the only way we can survive living together on earth. Citizens of New York City use 74% less water, 35% less electricity and have 45% less garbage than the rest of the US. But cities are not perfect at all, we have to make sure they become more "liveable and loveable" (source: Wavin Global). 

It is a city where services close by facilitate life and serve citizens. 15 minute city envisages that in a city, you shouldn't have more than 15 minutes from the place where you live to go to work, to do the shopping, to access healthcare, child care, to enjoy culture, restaurants, or to chill out. And it is not about getting everywhere by car in 15 minutes, but by bike, foot or a public form of transportation. Instead of cities with distinct districts for living, socialising and working, Moreno’s concept envisages the urban centre as a tapestry of neighbourhoods where all three functions co-exist.

Other sources next to Web Summit 2021's talk by Douglas Stark (Voi), we also used Dezeen and Euronews.

Better data

We heard some strong and interesting statements on how to improve the use of data for the greater good and the good of individuals:

"Personalisation of data is not the solution to a better world, because even if you are okay with companies using your data, this data can potentially be used or rather abused to fuel a wrong algorithm or even taking health care policies away from certain groups. Focusing on consent is not the way. If you go to an illegal party, the fire department can still shut your building, even if everyone has given their consent." Christopher Wylie (Director of Research H&M Group)

"If companies like Google and Facebook do not sell the data they capture to others they should be refrained from using it themselves, because that's the way we become completely dependent of them. They know more than anyone else and they are the only ones who can use it. They should in stead become a utility company. That's in my view the solution to better use of data." Diana Lee (Constellation)

Metaverse: Awesome? Distraction? Or both.

Metaverse - generally referred to as a shared virtual environment which people can access via the internet - is a brilliant distraction from what is really happening at Meta ('Facebook') right now. But if we judge it on its merits it's actually a new technologic universe that could really work, now the internet becomes less flat, more layered and we gotten used to computers in our pockets. 

Having serious video calls while being a cartoon or animation sounds odd at the moment, but when you think of it: it does make sense. You can see body language, as well as facial expressions. Or you can sit at 'a table' and use your hands and lean in. Much more interactive than the calls we all had (and still have) during COVID. Also beyond video calls, there's an opportunity, like exercising together, digitally. Or watching comedy with people around the globe (because watching comedy on your own usually doesn't do the trick). We're curious how this will evolve. Technology often starts in lower resolution than what it becomes. Maybe it shouldn't be Meta, maybe it should be a thing for the industry... Either way it should be ethical. One thing is for sure: we should embrace what the future holds for us. 

Our main take out for the day?

Find your purpose obsession, get out there and pursue it. Make (y)our (own) future!