Helsinki

helsinkiA different (significantly colder) city and a very different show – even though ostensibly the area of focus was identical.

Slush in Helsinki still manages to protect its founding student cooperative ethos, even as it reaches 17,000 people; it’s quite a feat to retain a very distinctive culture within a large show – and Slush succeeds, feeling open, inclusive, stimulating.

At a networking event someone put their finger on the difference between Web Summit and Slush – in Lisbon it felt too much like the start ups were collateral and not central, in Helsinki it is the reverse.

I noted last year that Slush also manages to retain a clear longer term view on societal impacts with some very stimulating discussion on the possibilities, opportunities and impacts of design and technology within a context of governance and global development.

I wrote my Lisbon blog in the wake of Trump (and continuing shadow of Brexit) and it’s interesting how those themes of the responsibilities of digital platforms have turned into a healthy public conversation. Albert Wenger, early Twitter investor, VC and author of World After Capital was particularly good on this as part of a more fundamental economic transition, an article by Om Malik in the New Yorker on Silicon Valley’s “empathy vacuum” also touched a very similar nerve.

And so now to America, interesting to see what this discussion feels like from Silicon Valley…

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