PARIS, France – Simply and aptly named, LeWeb is the largest technology conference in Europe. Founded by Loic Le Meur, the gathering is held twice a year in Paris and in London and brings together some of the largest and most influential members of the global technology community.
Each year a theme is chosen on which select speakers present, sharing any knowledge, thoughts, or experiences they have. At this year’s gathering in London, which took place on the 5th and 6th of June, the program’s theme went beyond the realm of pure technological science to explore how technology has lead to a global shift in the economic social conscience. Each speaker was asked to discuss the New Sharing Economy, a movement that the conference’s organizers proclaim represents “a major economic, social, and cultural shift [that]is redefining the ways goods and services are exchanged, valued and created.”
Le Meur says that his influence in creating this year’s theme was the idea of “digital hippies” – a new generation of entrepreneurs who reject money and power in favor of happiness. He cites Burning Man as an example of this trend, the arts and music festival in Nevada that gathers tens of thousands of people together in the desert each year with no money and no marketing allowed.
Some of the conference’s most recognizable presenters included Chad Dickerson of Etsy and Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp – both companies that truly embody the essence of a sharing economy – and Lily Cole, British model and founder of the social giving network, Impossible. Impossible, which is still in its beta phase, allows users to “make wishes” for something that they want or need, ranging from career advice to haircuts and everything in between. They are then paired with other users who might be able to help them. This new type of social networking allows for the flow of goods and ideas with no monetary exchange.
Many of the conference’s speakers expounded on this idea, that the Internet and its associated technologies continue to create a global community in which people are more connected than ever before. Axelle Tessandier, a content strategist and speaker at LeWeb, claims that it is this connectedness that has shaped generation Y into the “we, not me” generation. The Internet, she says, “makes us feel part of something bigger,” and ensures that “we can no longer ignore what is happening in the world.”
LeWeb, its speakers, and its digital hippies all embody the fact that the ongoing technological revolution has inspired a change in the global economy and the social conscience. The face of consumerism as it has been understood in years past is no more. Technology has spawned an evolution in how goods and ideas are valued and exchanged and has, in recent years, placed an emphasis on sharing rather than selling. Ultimately, this has created and will continue to mold a world in which consumers become more and more aware of their position as a global citizen.
– Rebecca Beyer