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Web Summit is in danger of becoming the IFTAs for techies

The Web Summit concludes today, and its Irish founders are to be congratulated for creating such an extraordinary event.

All week Ireland has been the focus of the technology community worldwide, and with over 15,000 foreign visitors coming to Dublin for the Summit the economic benefit to the capital has been huge.

None of this means that the event has been without its flaws, some of which are utterly predictable in their Irishness, and all of which should be addressed before next year's event.

Firstly, there was the time-honoured rip-off of tourists, with hotels jacking up their prices by as much as 600pc.

cock-up

Secondly, there was the guaranteed infrastructural cock-up, with the wi-fi breaking down for an hour on the opening morning, leading to both anger and ridicule on social media.

Inevitably, as well, there is hyperbole from the tourist industry, with Failte Ireland figures suggesting that the event is worth €102m to the Irish economy.

It's a figure which stretches credibility, as it suggests that each of the foreign delegates spent over €5,000 in Dublin.

The organisers, of course, are blameless in all the foregoing, but even they cannot wash their hands of all criticism.

Because, of course, there is the presence of Eva Longoria, former star of Desperate Housewives, whom they invited in her capacity as a philanthropist.

It is inescapable, however, that Eva's presence was not to share piercing digital insights but rather to sprinkle a bit of celebrity stardust on the event.

And for someone who is a serious businesswoman, and doesn't buy into the whole Hollywood star thing, Longoria gave a remarkably convincing impersonation of just another visiting US celebrity.

She announced her arrival at Dublin airport on Twitter, and over the next couple of days she followed the tedious, predictable tourist route of a fry-up, a visit to Temple Bar and the Book of Kells.

choreographed

And just to show how choreographed her trip was, she went to a relatively obscure restaurant on Tuesday with fellow celebs Lily Cole and Jemima Khan, and guess what?

The press just happened to find out where she was going, and managed to photograph their arrival.

Once again, it should be stressed that organiser Paddy Cosgrave et al have achieved something remarkable with the Summit. But they need to decide whether they want to continue to run a respected technology conference, or turn it into a red carpet event like the IFTAs.

Because if they do go down the latter route, dodgy wi-fi will be the least of their worries.


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