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Portugal welcomes Web Summit

web-summit-homekeyportugalPortugal welcomed the Web Summit this year for the first time in Lisbon. This event is founded by Paddy Cosgrave and first took place in 2009 with a mix of 400 bloggers, journalists and technologists in Dublin. Now, in 2016 it is the ‘best technology conference on the planet’ with 53,000 attendees. This event attracts leading investors, international media and the most promising startups across the globe. According to Miguel Frasquilho, the CEO of AICEP, the conference had a positive direct impact of 200 million euros on the Portuguese economy. Most of the attendees did not know Portugal, and they really liked the country.

Good job Portugal!

Modern vs old fashioned Portugal

Portugal is a modern, European country that encourages and supports innovation and invests in technology. Hosting this important technology event, puts this country on the map to run with the big players in the world. On the other hand, you have the beautiful countryside of Portugal where time stood still. Where donkeys and carts still exist as a way of transport, where people of the village pick thousands of olives by hand, where grapes are collected by a pair of hands and scissors where fruit and vegetables taste real, where you warm your feet in front of the fireplace, where they look up to the sky in order to predict rain.

home key portugal
2016 – Donkey ploughing the land in Portugal
electric car portugal
2016 – Moove Project  – Electric car in Portugal

Interview with research engineer Wiljan

Wiljan Smaal (research engineer physics and founder of the blog Generationmaybe) visited the Web Summit for his work and went to the interior of Portugal afterwards to enjoy some days off. Read here about his experiences and how he survived this culture shock 🙂

1. What are the most impressive innovations you have seen at the Web Summit?

Walking at this conference was a bit like walking into the future. There were robots driving around to serve coffee for instance. And I’ve seen many companies presenting their work. One of them was a space-mining company. Believe it or not, but they are actually working on going to space to mine materials from meteorites. Another impressive innovation is the ‘hyperloop’. It is a project of the company SpaceX. They are building large vacuum tubes in which they want to drive a magnetic train with a speed of upto 1200km/h. This means that you can go from Lisbon to Paris in less than 1 hour and a half! So you see, crazy things are waiting for us in the future.

2. How was the experience for you coming from a technology conference to the countryside of Portugal?

This was amazing! The conference feels like 50 years ahead in time, and the countryside of the backlands of Portugal feel like 50 years back. So I made a 100-year time travel in just a 200 km car drive! The contrast is huge. It made me realize how far advanced we are nowadays, and how far some people are away from the natural world, the ‘real’ world, where things grow and live.

3. What do you think of the way of life on the countryside of Portugal?

I think it’s beautiful. It’s close enough to civilization to benefit from healthcare and internet or phone connections for example. But it’s far enough from civilization to live a peaceful and natural life.

4. Could you live without technology?

I could. I don’t need a lot of luxury and I’m a nature kind of guy. But I don’t want. Just as I find it amazing how life on this planet can exist in a vast universe of mainly dead matter, I find it amazing how humans could create technology like Whatsapp, cars, dishwashers and bubble baths. I would not want to miss that, but I would like to enjoy these things in a way that does not destroy nature. I think in the countryside of Portugal, this is very well possible.

5. How do you see the world living with technology 50 years from now?

50 years is a very long time. Especially if you consider how fast things are evolving nowadays. I personally think that technology will always keep evolving and will keep integrating further into our daily lives. I think that robots will take over more and more tasks. Not only in factories, as already the case, but also in our homes. We will be even more connected then we already are. With each other, but also with the objects around us.

6. In what degree you think the countryside of Portugal will be impacted by technology?

And as technology further integrates into our lives, it will also arrive until the Portugal countryside. What is interesting is, that not all technology integrates here. People are quite behind on the latest development, and instead of automatically taking over everything that is new, they choose the things they want to have, and the things they do not want to have.

People might continue picking olives by hand, but when lunch is ready, the wives call the men on their cell phone. And the house that is heated by a fireplace, might also have the latest model of solar panels to power the dishwasher.

I think this is what people should do at any time. Stick to the old methods that always worked, but from time to time allow technology to make things easier, cleaner, and better for the world.

Off-grid in Portugal

The countryside of Central Portugal IS a unique place. A crumb of paradise from a slice of a modern country of the bigger European pie…..An increasing number of people move here to get unwired from technology and go off-grid. There is also a significant amount of communities in Portugal with a lifestyle that goes back to basic, more tuned in with nature and the spiritual self. But be honest, whatever lifestyle we have, we can’t live without the Internet!

This blog is written with the help of my Smartphone, Macbook and the Internet. Logging out now….

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back.

Melanie