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State of the Net 2012

The conference through the eyes of a geek

State of the Net 2012  recently took place in Trieste. That’s so close to my home that I would have felt ashamed If I didn’t attend. Actually, I could only show up at the Saturday half of the event, but that’s still been a great chance to keep up with updates and insights about current State of the Net, social media, tourism, privacy and more.

Please note: I didn’t have my SLR with me, so all pictures in this page come from the State of The Net Flickr Account, and all rights are reserved. Hopefullly their usage here is tolerated. Please let me know otherwise, and they’ll be quickly removed.

What I liked, what I didn’t

Things I’ve loved the most are straightforward: a cool venue, an efficient  outstanding organizing committee, a great chance to spread much needed digital culture in our country, some great speakers/talks …and a pretty good lunch buffet 😉

As for the downsides, despite being bilingual, I’ve found quite annoying to constantly having to switch between English and Italian. It would’ve been probably better if an official event language (IE English) was chosen and then used by all speakers. Also, I think that a few speakers crossed the borders of self-promotion, and that’s been boring at times.

I’ve enjoyed my day a lot, nevertheless. It’s been one of those rare chances you have to get a comprehensive update on the state of the net and many related issues. From the start, it’s been crystal clear that the organizers did a terrific job setting up things: a great location within the old Trieste harbor area, a quick and painless registration, and event gadgets which were far above conference standards.

About the Talks…

The day started up with a keynote by Gigi Tagliapietra. I’m pretty much impaired when it comes to music, so that I’ve had a tough time understanding all of the music related metaphors he used. At any case, the talk reminded me that it’s always good to think outside the box. Hopefully my impairment didn’t prevent me from getting deeper and subtler messages, nested within his final notes.

It’s then been the time of Scotch speaker Euan Semple, who touched quite a few interesting topics, also laying ground for the discussion panel which followed up. Besides the main topic of his talk, directly related to his book (now in my wishlist), he brought up several other interesting insights. In particular, I’ve much enjoyed his comparison of naturally originated information structures Vs those which were created through human planning upfront. That makes so much sense if we think about social media, folksonomies and the way things are going, even from a technological point of view (do schema-less, NoSQL database come to your mind? I think they should).

Coming up next has been what I consider the best presentation of the day. Roberta Milano actually scared me off with her first few slides. All those data tables aren’t usually a good sign 😉 Instead, the gifted presenter quickly  escalated her pace, towards an effective slideshow on best practices, updates on the industry and other relevant info in the topic of tourism. All of this with a clear presentation style and a great presence on stage. This has actually been the only “business oriented” talk where I’ve felt proper attention to customer experience was given. And I think this is an important concept which companies do need to understand and always take into account when setting up their online strategies. Strategy, another important keyword she mentioned.

Several other talks which I’ve really enjoyed have been those of Linchao Li, on the Chinese e-commerce market, and that of Marko Rakar on government data transparency. The former’s been an eye opener for myself, whereas the latter’s been inspirational, to say the least.

Also the presentations by Marco Massarotto and Matteo Menin have brought up interesting data on the e-commerce situation in Italy.

Honestly, I didn’t find the other talks up to par with them, probably due to the fact that quite a lot of self referencing was made by the speakers. Also, I think that more original content should have been brought up on stage. This is IMHO where more emphasis on customer experience could (and should) have emerged. But that’s just my 2cc.

It’s then been the turn of Andrew Keen. Despite I’ve personally found his theories a bit inconclusive (and his views quite confused – as also pointed up by Jan Hemme), I still think the talk added up value to the event; in fact, this kind of contributions can raise awareness of people who don’t have an high digital education. And, when culture doesn’t keep up with technology, failure’s often behind the corner. Let’s just think about automatic weapons in under-developed countries, about the usage of many toxic chemicals and asbestos when their properties weren’t fully known, and so on. So, despite the drastic tone of the speaker, the mix-up of different concepts he made, and his clear intent of selling his theory/book, I still think that the talk and the chat which followed still brought up some good points.

That’s been it for my day. I’ve been thrilled to see some good digital culture coming so close to home. So, I cannot but thank once again the people involved in the organization for the event: thank you guys, and see you at the next edition, which is hopefully also going to be this close to home!

If you’re curious, you can probably find event recordings at the official event youtube page.

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