Hailed as Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley, we’ve been regular visitors to Stockholm this autumn, scouring the city’s vibrant – and underrated – tech scene for fresh speaking talent.
According to WIRED, Sweden has “the most digitally connected economy in the world”, and its forward-thinking culture is a hot-bed for innovation. With this in mind, I had the pleasure of attending the 15th annual Internetdagarna conference this week; based in Stockholm, this is Sweden’s most important meeting and conference for people who work with and shape the internet.
Inspirational world-class keynotes both started and ended each day. Chartwell helped source speakers such as Harper Reed, Cory Doctorow and Sougwen Chung, whose highly praised talks transcended industrial borders and areas of interest. They shared the roster with other thought leaders such as Emily Parker (digital diplomacy advisor for the New American Foundation), Annie Machon (former MI5 intelligence officer and whistleblower) and Eben Upton (co-founder of Raspberry Pi, the credit card sized computer).
Following the keynote sessions, Internetdagarna was organised using a forum set-up; there were 17 events that focused on the Internet from a different perspective, of which participants could attend two.
I kicked things off with a panel discussion – “The Internet is Under Attack – How We Fight Back?” – featuring Cory Doctorow and Sus Andersson (unfortunately Jacob Applebaum couldn’t make it…). They discussed the difference between secrecy and privacy; Cory pointed out that phrasing the question on privacy frames the answer, as it is socially determined. For example, he argues that “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is a fallacy; such thinking is generally revised when people are instead asked whether they want their personal information available for all. The panellists went onto explore what could be done to raise awareness of these issues.
I also managed to swing by the Swedish Startup Sessions. Here, valuable advice was given from top-tier entrepreneurs and investors to start-up founders, as well as those in preparation to start their high growth companies. I met some fascinating tech entrepreneurs, including Fishbrain app co-founder Johan Attby, who gave an informative talk about how to raise start-up capital.
Day 2 was spent at a session that looked at how our world, and our view of the Internet, is changing. Presently, there are several political, technical and legal processes that can affect the development of the Internet and our society as a whole. A series of panel discussions asked: How should the Internet be governed in the future? How should the openness of the Internet be guaranteed and how can we meet potential information security threats? A central idea was that the Internet is like an ecosystem; there is no central source of authority, but rather it is made up of a myriad of local forces.
A trip to Sweden is not complete without sampling the spectacular Nordic bistro. I was recommended to venture over to Oaxen Slip, where I indulged in grilled steak of venison from Östermalma with cream poached cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke and juniper berries, with a side of mashed pumpkin mixed with pickled pumpkin and roasted garlic. Skål!
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