The long-awaited Tomorrow Conference in Belgrade initially announced over a hundred speakers and about 40,000 visitors. From what the audience in Serbia could see in previous years, the higher the numbers – the bigger the problem (delay of the program, crowds in the halls, slow movement between the panels…).
However, Tomorrow secured the advantage at the start and hinted that the downsides from other conferences could be eliminated. That initial advantage was space; Štark Arena has the capacity not only to accommodate this many people in theory, but also to host them well, i.e. to have enough space to move freely, to stand out if they want to exchange ideas with a panelist in private, etc.
In other words, the space itself guaranteed an enjoyable experience, starting from the moment you step up the stairs and start to feel like you are just joining a big and important event, which Tomorrow, in the end, was.
Was the arena crowded every day?
This can be interpreted by the words of Scott Page, an American musician and entrepreneur, but also one of the panelists at the conference:
Decentralization is everything. This stadium should be filled, but you guys are the pioneers. Get educated and try to get other people educated.
When you sum up the impressions of the past three days, it is inevitable that one wonders what is common to most of the panelists who were invited to speak in Belgrade this year. Some of them were known to the general public, but for many of them they heard for the first time.
But even at the most basic search of speakers, it is clear that these are relevant people who in their own countries, or on a broader scale, create innovative practices and change the established patterns.
So, in addition to each of them being an expert in their field and having an established name, these are some of the first things that come to mind:
- Their speech has an extremely motivating effect;
- They do not “sell fog”, but speak clearly, concretely, present tangible results of their work in order to reach the audience and encourage them to be proactive and persistent;
- In addition to each of them having an impressive background and having worked with the most famous names and institutions, they are very down-to-earth, approachable, inquisitive and open to conversation;
- Although they are very familiar with professional terms, they try to be informal and funny in order to get closer to the topic and keep the attention of the audience.
Tomorrow was different for another decision, which may become imperative in the future, since it’s more efficient, sustainable, meaningful and responds to the needs of today’s audience.
What’s it about?
For example, much of today’s audience prefers TV shows over movies because they have the ability to “get attached” to characters. With a similar logic, the panelists at this conference appeared more than once, on different panels, in different roles (sometimes they were speakers, sometimes moderators), and thus got the opportunity to tell the various aspects of their experience and the obstacles that have shaped them into today’s people.
Thus, visitors were able to get several pieces of the puzzle and better understand the credibility and motives of a particular speaker. Also, they were constantly mingling around the halls, so anyone who was interested in getting to know a panelist better or asking him additional questions could do so very easily.
Moreover, the panelists spoke candidly about the concerns they have and the challenges they face, most often in communicating with regulatory bodies.
“The current situation is that we send an official email and wait up to 30 days for them to respond. When communication fails, we lose a lot of time and resources invested, and we could have prevented all this if we had a two-hour meeting with them. Not only that, they would better understand what we do, and we would better understand what they expect from us,” said Marko Matanovic from the ECD, adding that he would like there to be better, open communication with regulatory bodies, which should take into account the advice of industry experts.
Great emphasis has also been placed on the application of technology in the everyday life of consumers, as emphasized by Martin Petrič of the World Metaverse Council:
The same way there used to be larpurlartism (art for the sake of art), today I have the impression that there is technology for the sake of technology. One should not first choose technology, then think about what purpose to use it, but clearly define the problem, think carefully about a possible solution, and only then decide which technology to use and whether it is necessary at all.
In addition to tech topics, many panels also mentioned the importance of mental health, consciousness of the use of technology, healthy digital habits and personal responsibility for data protection.
Moreover, the last panel before the official closing of the conference was called “Life is Live”, which announced the campaign of the same name, which will be implemented in Serbia in the coming period, and will be supported by European organizations, and which aims to encourage the younger population to combine online and offline activities.
In order to spend quality time on the Internet, first of all, we must give children a chance to have a beautiful reality. We have to offer them ways to have fun that aren't conditioned by money.
Snežana Klašnja, Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Youth
In the end, everyone who visited the conference must have taken with them a thought, or several, which he keeps as an personal motto. Or maybe he’s heard a question he still doesn’t have an answer to, but he’ll try to figure it out in the coming weeks.
One of the most picturesque, for those who may have missed it, was said by Michael Cutajar of Metaverse Architects:
“We are building a digital future that mirrors humanity.”
Or, in other words, the way we use technology today directly shapes the world we will live in tomorrow. Taking that message into account, it is clear that the name of Tomorrow’s conference was not at all accidental.