The ground work and research for Wayports began back in March 2020, after we came to terms with going into a global pandemic, like everyone else. We have had our travel arrangements for Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC) canceled with no right to refunds, and were left worried about the impending confinements that hit the globe throughout the year.
But most of all, we were left wondering why we did that anyway. Why go to these big events? They are tiresome marketing echo chambers. Most of the time we had to go in order to meet with partners and vendors, because they had invested in those marketing efforts and were calling us to meet there.
The truth is that all the interactions of an event like that can be arranged and executed efficiently online, with any method. Pandemic or not, getting people from different places to convene in one huge convention center to collect flyers, brochures, bags and all sorts of freebies seems rather capricious in times when we can do a lot through software and telepresence.
On top of this, there is the matter of pollution and environmental impact. We looked at the climate change footprint of an event for 1,000 people lasting for 3 days, and discovered the horror that goes into that. It represents the equivalent of 5,670Kg of discards, which is the approximate weight of 4 compact cars. It seemed crazy to us.
Given that we were not even taking into account yet the impact of air travel to an event of such a global scale as MWC, we decided this was important enough to attempt something different. We thought to ourselves, there has to be something better.
Video conferences simply did not feel right to us. Most of us had been engaging with them since the early days of Skype, and as the confinement months rolled on, we watched how most companies resorted to a nicer Skype in the shape of a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call.
While those efforts are certainly right for the people who prefer them, for us it was akin to looking at a problem in the wrong way. We thought "why go through the exhausting, unnatural way of staring at a camera to try and provide active listening cues?", and we wondered what would happen when everyone uses that as a default event delivery method.
One or a few speakers with their cameras on, a multitude of people with their cameras on, fading away into one big audio stream. This sounded like a nightmare to us. Sort of a live podcast or radio show, except every company is scheduling them for internal and external purposes. Calendars being filled beyond realistic possibilities, killing any chance of spontaneity and telepresence.
If you liked Part 1, click here to read Part 2!