So I attended the netprophet conference this year. Which I’ve booked tickets for since 2011, but managed to miss due to scheduling issues.
The thing that really drove me to this year’s conference was the presence of Julian Assange. Only when I arrived at the venue I realized that this would be done over web cam. Of course, I was the butt of the joke, as this is a man who is not exactly free to roam the planet as he wishes. His inclusion, a highly political one at that, in a schedule which was otherwise very much about profiting from the net (which would mean something different if the audience wasn’t so upper-class-pale-male), was a strange and jarring prelude. If the conference is right in being branded as “a rock show for entrepeneurs”, then Julian Assange was the cop-out DJ set from one of your genuinely favourite artists. Firstly the sound cut out, while the audience could see Julian on the screen, talking away. This lasted way longer than it should have. Next, a nervous interviewer jumped to action and informed Mr Assange that he had been mute for an entire two minutes of talking. Our suspended belief that Julian Assange was going to wow us with his wisdom suffered a blunt breaking of fourth wall – he was still sitting somewhere in asylum, talking into a tiny webcam, where we couldn’t even hear him. I attemped to take notes, but the sound was also pretty bad. He spoke about how Bitcoin was establishing a new global consensus. He commented on how the traditional model of the finance industry was not working, and how distributed power models like Bitcoin was a welcome disruption. He sees this disruption as an opposition to the new dominance of web monopolies, Google being one such player. In general, you could find him expressing these views across the internet, without needing to sit the man down. Yet, it did make the world feel slightly smaller and connected, which was nice. Next up, to cement that we were in fact as a rockshow for entrepeneurs, we were wowed by some sexy corporate dancers (which I accurately illustrated above). There were a lot of speakers who spoke passionately about their start ups becoming business successes, and sharing advice for up and coming entrepeneurs. Rob Stokes from Quark, and Aaron Marshall from Over, were highlights. But at the end of the day, my favourite speakers were Danny Day and Mark Luck who spoke about Make Games SA and other games they’d been working on. Not only did they describe their own experiences of following their passions to profit (as many of those who spoke before them did too), but also their prioritisation of constantly engaging with a larger community of practice that could benefit from their experiences and skills, and in turn benefit them too.