David-Michel Davies: It’s a Community Affair

Internet Week chair holds forth on big shots, shindigs, and glitches

     Internet Week is big. A behemoth, host to big shots and wannabes. It sprawls across the entire city, with no single organizing principle. It consists of roughly 250 events—panels, parties, keynotes, and conferences—taking place over eight days, involving more than 150 companies and 20,000 people. Too much, apparently, to house it all in the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center. In fact, it is so immense that Internet Week’s PR people had to put together a press release detailing how to follow it. (The glitchy and utterly confusing website did not help in this regard.)

     “In New York, the tech industry cuts across all the different industries,” David-Michel Davies, chair of Internet Week and executive director of the Webby Awards, tells Adweek. “So rather than sit in one room, we wanted to reach out to all these different industries and get them to participate. Our vision was, let’s get the community here to put on this festival.”

     True to the medium it celebrates, Internet Week is a community affair. To host an event, all one had to do was post details to Internet Week’s online schedule and, presto!, it was included. “We do approve these events,” says Davies, who prefers to be called DMD. “But they’re dreamed up by the different organizations and executed by them entirely. In the last four years I can count a handful of events we haven’t approved.”

     Which means that how you experience Internet Week depends in large part on which events you attend. A great deal of it is wonky tech stuff. Some of it is poorly organized, B-level networking. Then there are the technical breakdowns: WiFi went out at BB King’s; Livestream collapsed for at least one event; even that confounding website crashed for a bit Monday morning (“A blip kind of thing,” DMD says).

     Still, there are the marquee names: Arianna Huffington and Nicholas Kristoff, Judah Friedlander and Sen. Charles Schumer are all on hand. And, hopefully—though it is too soon to tell—there are a few decent parties. On night one, DMD was heading to the mayor’s house.

     “I’m really looking forward to that,” says DMD. “There’s really few things as nice as an evening there on the river at Gracie Mansion.” Spoken like a big shot.