It is part of my job to attend Internet conferences. From the highest echelons of the back end of the Internet to small programmer meet ups in coffee houses, I have seen just about every kind of Internet gathering there is and I feel like I can say with relative authority that there is nothing like WebFest.ME.
WebFest.ME – a Breath of Fresh Internet Air
A conference created to service the immediate region’s emerging tech community, Webfest.ME has exploded in four short years, attracting attendees from all over the world and all areas of the Internet who come together to share knowledge, technique and their unique visions for the Internet.
While most tech conferences tend to beat the same drum year after year, hosting the same panelists, the same sessions and fostering the same discussions, Webfest.ME is a breath of fresh Internet air. Not only do the conference organizers have an allergy to repetition, but their passion for knowledge leads to unexpected and engaging panels like “Creating and Controlling Your Own Data”, “Unlocking the Potential of Women” and creating a “Start Up Based Economy” in a South American country.
Held annually in the town of Budva on the coast of Montenegro (a seaside community that inherited all of the glamour that other famous Riviera’s lost as they inched into the modern era), Webfest.ME invites attendees to leave the comfort zone of what we’ve come to expect from Internet conferences, and embrace what we can learn from each other when we remove all the “fluff” and get down to the business of serious mutual inspiration.
The .ME in WebFest.ME
Its unique nature is made possible because the .ME team is about way more than domain names. They are committed to the region, to learning and to maximizing all of the possibilities of life online. At a conference in New York, CEO Predrag Lesic said of the company: “ We are always exploring.” That perfectly sums up what .ME is about. Reminiscent of great tech companies like Google and Tesla, .Me seeks to add value to the world far outside of the product they produce. .Me believes that everyone should have access to knowledge and through Webfest.ME have created a community in which the region’s emerging tech community can learn from and bond with Internet leaders from around the globe.
WebFest.ME Speaker Highlights
The overarching theme of the conference can be best summed up by keynote speaker Brian Wong who encouraged the crowd to: “Create opportunities for yourself. You have Internet.”
Every panel focused on ways that attendees could harness the tools to maximize their online lives and presence whether through business or personal use. While every session was uniquely interesting, Speaker Highlights include:
Brian Wong – the founder of Kiip.me (pronounced “keep”), a rewards network that changed the way companies advertise on mobile phones. Brian explained to the audience the importance of humanizing online business by engaging meaningfully, building a story and adding legitimate value.
Zé Fontainhas– the founder of the Portuguese WordPress community impressed the importance of The Hub. He explains that your personal website should act like a hub from which you will send things out to other social networks. Fontainhas is not telling us to stop using social media like Facebook and Twitter, but to use them in a way that we can control. Fontainhas stresses that controlling your content is the most important thing you can do for yourself online. To create your own hub, all you need is your own .ME domain name and WordPress.
Ruth Burr of SEO Moz imparted the importance of making your website SEO friendly to maximize your search results in a way that is easily understandable. Burr created an invaluable starting point for attendees to learn more about harnessing the potential of the tool. Towards the end of her talk, Burr advised that one key to success is to work with developers. Burr urged: “Sit down with them over booze and cookies and listen to their problems.”
Ryan Freitas – Founder of about.me discussed the importance of User Experience Design. Freitas shared many inspirational anecdotes about his path to success while stressing the overall importance of good design in making or breaking your product. Freitas closed by advising: “You never know what a poorly designed system will do to someone else’s life.”
If you only attend one web conference or meet up in 2013, head to Budva and prepare to have your mind blown by the Montenegrin Internet community.
Written by: Kelly Hardy, Independent Consultant at Kelly Hardy Consulting, Inc.