#tnw This year’s edition of the next web feels a bit like coming home again. The atmosphere is vibrant with energy to discover and develop new cool technology. If anything, there is a healthy disregard for convention and ‘the way things are supposed to be’.
No boring windowless conference rooms here, the organizers have a funny tendency to reappropriate locations. The main venue is a big factory machine room, originally built in the 19th century, and barely renovated. Work, fun, beer and play mixes almost seamlessly. At night, the conference only shifts location, not intensity, and carries on in a street designated as the official conference party street where discussion of technology and business continues. To top it all off, the conference’s afterparty dissolves into Queen’s day (which can best be described as the world’s largest anarchistic outdoor party).
Yet, with all these seeming libertarian, even utopian, attitudes, underneath there is a very strict set of morals to be observed. For example: new technology must almost by definition be better, and its success is measured by money and audience, or lacking that, by its awesomeness.
In contrast with these attitudes, there is an incredible shortage of really original ideas. Most startups and other ventures are alike in that they recycle, recombine and reconnect the same few basic ideas. Yet another Iphone application to connect to the digital exhaust that everybody is fuming out. Yet another platform to aggregate content from all sources, location based, and publish rubbish. More shopping.
Then again, maybe this is just the sign of the times. In the nineties all internet companies were struggling to get connectivity to the masses, and everybody was getting into portals. Maybe we need a lot of attempts at the same thing before it gets really good. Amazon was not the first online bookshop; Google was not the first search engine. So somewhere in these days the next big thing may be hidden.

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