LeWeb 08, Paris – the major annual international internet conference on European soil, attempting to be a beacon of hope in the wreckage of a stalled economy, costing 1m euro to stage, presenting a host of international names, A-list sponsors, a start up competition, demo rooms, after-show parties and visits from a famous author and a French government minister.
Day one was a struggle in many respects. The assembled had no internet, no WiFi, and the strain was palpable, as online presentations ground to a rusty halt.
There were glazed expressions on many faces at the end of the first morning, the geeks clinging tightly to their mobile devices, retaining their precious, flickering connections to the promised land. To make matters worse, the heating failed and people shivered in the vast conference hall.
Still, there was coffee, breakfast pastries, and lunch, although the portions were small, as were the tables. The desperate throng had literally to be held back from the food by presence of sharp-eyed caterers and the looming glare of security guards until the allotted time of 1.30pm.
Accompanied by a Franco-Mexican trio, it was a truly surreal feeding frenzy. Blood was in the water, and those higher thinking functions – internet, code, commerce – counted for nothing in the lust for nutrition.
This for me was the most riveting spectacle – geek sharks battling for sustenance.
Day one, I ate, and day two, I shot video.