By Lucy Drummond
I attended Internet Week New York (IWNY) to better understand how our wired connectivity is affecting businesses and other fields. What I found is quite promising.
Once a year for IWNY, technology and internet luminaries descend upon New York to take part in a flurry of panels, events, and showcases. The goal is to celebrate and reflect on entrepreneurism, innovation, and the impact of technology. Of course, plenty of similar conferences and events take place throughout the year. But Internet Week–now in its seventh year–is unique in its quality and breadth.
The major victory I witnessed at IWNY 2015 has to do with its active spotlight of women. I have never seen so many prominent women recognized and given the stage at a major conference unless the conference’s theme is specifically devoted to women. Both men and women are doing creative, promising things with the internet, and IWNY successfully brought light to many of them.
Zuckerberg, Brown, Lapin, Hayward
Hayward spoke on the panel “Taking Taboo Topics Social” with news anchor and Rich Bitch author Nicole Lapin, and lawyer cum media mogul Binta Niambi Brown. Moderated by Randi Zuckerberg of Zuckerberg Media. The panel tackled such issues as menstruation, money, and sex with humor and grace.
This was one of my favorite panels of the week.
A highlight of this year’s IWNY was Chelsea Clinton, who spoke with data visualization expert Ben Fry on their recently released No Ceilings: Full Participation Project. Clinton’s goal with the project was to make a mass of data points living and breathing through human stories.
Clinton’s humility allows her work to shine through. I was struck by her poise and eloquence.
No Ceilings celebrates achievements such as the increase of women who participate in the workforce around the world. The report also points to where more work needs to be done. For example, women have less access to the internet than men.
Fry has requested that developers who believe they can improve the report contribute to it on GitHub. No Ceilings is truly a 21st century report.
The co-founders of Wired, Jane Metcalfe and Louis Rosetto, spoke with Webby Media Group President David-Michel Davies. The two Wired visionaries were prioritizing web-based content in the early 1990’s when most people still didn’t know what the internet was. Metcalfe and Rosetto’s cool demeanor betrayed the secrets to their success: confidence is key.
Rosetto, Metcalfe, Davies
Another highlight of the week was its opener: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the genius writers and stars of Comedy Central’s Broad City.
Jacobson and Glazer owe their ascent partly to the internet. With humble beginnings at the comedy training ground Upright Citizens Brigade, they achieved viral success from their friends after filming their first “webisode.”
Their career pasts influenced their internet mastery: Jacobson did SEO and video uploading for TED, and Glazer managed social media for a skincare brand. These young ladies prove how fluency in media can propel creative projects forward.
I greatly appreciated their response to an audience member’s question about the common comparisons between their show and HBO’s Girls. They began their response by saying that it’s wonderful to be considered alongside such a successful show. But they also pushed audience members to think about the assumptions in the comparison; why must one show be favored over or measured against the other? Why can’t both shows, that center around the lives of young women, be celebrated and liked?
Overall, IWNY 2015 was a success. It provided a space to listen to others, think critically about tech and internet developments, and connect on the ways that the internet has changed lives.