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LeWeb3: calling bullshit on the politicians from the finger-channel

Finger to the politicians

LeWeb3 concluded a few hours ago, and by most all accounts people who attended are very unhappy at the decision to drop technology speakers (at the last minute) for appearences by French presidential candidates.

Tom Raftery writes:

“…the conference was completely hijacked and changed from a conference about new web technologies into a presidential campaign for the next French election. Two of the candidates, Nikolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou were parachuted in to the conference schedule at the last minute, displacing other speakers.”

There didn’t seem to be much of a backchannel at LeWeb this year, partly due to the lack of stable Wifi (blame Orange) and the overly-corporate feel to this year’s conference.

However that didn’t stop a couple of guys, with sentiment dear to my heart, calling bullshit on Nikolas Sarkozy via the finger-channel (see above).

The decision to bring in the two candidates last minute – and allow them to address the conference in French – is surprising considering LeWeb’s earlier boast that the majority of the attendees were not from France.

I was already very surprised when the organizers changed the focus of the conference from blogging over to general ‘internet technology’. It certainly removed any value for me to go over to Paris to listen to people talk about general internet technology, when I am living in the thick of it here in San Francisco.

If LeWeb had remained LesBlogs, it might have been a different story, although last year’s conference was hardly packed with insights and revelations either.

When people write:

“Personally, I feel the conference has had the life sucked out of it by the egoism and ambition of certain individuals running the show…” (Graham Holliday)

… and even your sponsors write:

“the event feels like it has run its course… Le Web 4 will be a hard sell, certainly as far as I am concerned” (Sam Sethi on TechCrunchUK, a sponsor of the event)

…maybe it’s time to call it a day on Le Conférences A La Six Apart?

Which is a great shame, because Europe needs a good internet conference. EuroOSCon and XTech are for the geekier crowd and mobile conferences in London are obviously very niche. LiFT and Reboot are excellent, but remain small to maintain a very different vibe (for me they are gatherings and not conferences as such – something I would attend personally rather than on behalf of a company).

All of which makes me want to think more with Chris Pirillo the idea of holding “Gnomedex London”, maybe as a simulcast if people would be receptive to the time difference… Gnomedex is exactly what Europe needs, and frankly is exactly what LeWeb could have been if only it hadn’t lost it’s course…

Published in News Thoughts and Rants


  1. Funny picture 😉
    Agreeing with the critics on the political interference, I think the conference was very well organized and the quality of people gathering at it was pretty high. We have to accept mistakes on the organizers’ side, even if they have not admitted them. It can become the Internet conference of reference all around Europe.

  2. Yep = bad move but brave all the same.
    Early on I scanned the agenda and thought:
    1. Where’s the business stuff?
    2. Too politicky for the 2nd pm
    3. Too many of the same speakers as last year
    4. It had the feel of something thrown together very hastily

    I asked questions about the business end of things on the wiki – no=-one came back to me and I didn’t see any response/answer so…

    Decided it wasn’t worth the loot to get there when I could catch all the fun on the blogs. As it happens, Sam’s post sent me to a really good website my readers would benefit from so I’m actually happy I didn’t go and thanks for kicking up a stink Loic.

  3. I’ve had second thoughts. This is exactly as it should be. Loic tried an experiment. It didn’t come off and now is the time to consider moving on in another direction. Evolve. So thanks Loic.

    Ben – if you’re thinking of doing something or kicking it off, then it has GOT to have more businessy stuff. The sentiments I picked up from many voices (Tom Morris has a good selection) is – bored – heard it all – politics sux. OK – so let’s move on. But do it right. Next time.

    I’m sure you’re accumulating a tasty rolodex but if you need some really speacial people then I have a few I can tap into I think you’d find impressive.

  4. I’m not so sure that Gnomedex was so brilliant. And the WiFi sucked there as well. I’m looking for a real ‘inside-out’ conference, where the organisers realise that the attendees bring the UGC that makes the event tick. The organisers and the speakers are just there as a reference framework for all of us. We could do with some tools to help us make the conference work properly. All in all I’m amazed at how 1.0 these things still seem, how little they’ve moved on since the 90s.

  5. Oh, the cruel absence of a backchannel!

    Imagine the possibilities… Sarkozy snapping back at you with a “you fucking asshole!” 😉

    Dennis: indeed there seems to be a pool of no more than 50 possible panelists for any given conference. Is that what the web is all about?
    Despite the qualities of their talks, how many times can you hear Danah Boyd, Dave Sifry, Mena Trott, Hugh MacLeod, or (and that really makes me cringe how she appears at pretty much any conference held by Loic) Anina, before you start wondering “is that the diversity of the blogosphere?”

  6. WARNING: self promotion ahead

    Don’t forget The Next Web Conference! Based in Amsterdam it will be held on may. It will be small, fun, innovate and very inspirational just like it was last year. We went to LeWeb for inspiration and came back with a lot of notes on how NOT to do it.

  7. How about if we organize a real technology conference here? I like ETech in San Diego because it focuses on emerging technology but across many settings from blogs to businesses. And most of all you come away with a bunch of things you didn’t know before as well as meeting great people. Having just moved to Europe I’m surprised we have all the niche events here but nothing major. All the ingredients are present. It’s a ton of work to be sure but if there were a dozen more like-minded people we would have the resources to organize it. Anyone else up to the task? If so email me. Enough interest and we’ll put up a site to start working on it and get it off the ground.

  8. While it’s true that a lot of XTech is for the technically minded, in particular our Open Data track covers a lot more than simply the geek bits. Keep your eyes peeled for the schedule, which we’ll announce in February — or even better get over to and propose a session!

  9. Conferences are tricky. Ponzi’s up for a Gnomedex tour of Europe, though. Let me ask around. 🙂

  10. @Michel v
    Lemeur emphasizes the general narrowness of mind frolicking around the provincial blog country known as France (although the blog par capita ratio of France is among the most important): most French bloggers know only of the dozen bloggers leaving comments on their own blog.
    The typical French Typepad blogger speks of him/herself as a”baron” (earl in english) of the blogosphere.
    Lemeur having been converted by Sarkozy, had only typepad bloggers invited to Sarkozy’s political party’s “university”.
    There is a box in a box in a box

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