Today was the end of the 7th annual DLD Conference. DLD, short for Digital Life Design, is a conference founded and organized by the people at Hubert Burda Media, notably Marcel Reichart, Steffi Czerny and Mr. Burda himself. It's the best show in Europe with respect to digital media:
- They attract a stellar line-up of speakers from the hottest companies. This year's lineup included Eric Schmidt, Andrew Mason and Dennis Crowley. But as much as these people are nice to watch, I really appreciate the 'non-techie' speakers that I wouldn't otherwise be exposed to - people such as Somaly Mam, Deepak Chopra and Paulo Coelho.
- The invitation-only nature of the conference tends to ensure higher quality networking than at other shows and there are lots of opportunities to do so. It's a pretty good mix of people in terms of geography, sector and company size, although it's a bit skewed towards Western Europe and the US.
- The folks at Burda put it on in style: they don't skimp on the food or drink, there's always a big party on the Monday night with a name performer (Lady Gaga & Cheryl Cole in years past; Duffy this year) and they think of the little things (for instance, mobile phone charging stations with 'valet' so you don't have to worry about leaving it).
It's a good way to get the pulse of the internet/tech scene and this year was no different. No surprise that group buying is hot, as is social media. In terms of improvements, I'd have loved to have more coverage of non-western european/US scenes - the India panel was good but just a start. I would also carve out some time for speaker presentations and fewer panels, which sometimes tend to 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'. Moroever, more time could have been spent on one of the seminal digital issues of our time - that of the balance and tradeoffs between transparency and privacy in a digital world. This was thrown into such stark contrast in the past year with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and the 'explosion' of Wilileaks, and yet I felt it was tangentially covered at the conference.
All that said, congrats to the Burda team for what was another successful show. It was nice to see familiar faces and meet new ones, and there is no doubt that DLD is the best 'digital' conference in Europe.