Tech Disrupt: What to Expect from Internet Week New York

New York represents the ultimate convergence of cultures, ideals, and industries. On the Internet, the city’s collective fire is all the more evident.

The #MadeinNY list steadily grows, and companies are hiring. Internet Week New York aims to celebrate progress, examine problems, and present new possibilities when innovative technology meets established industry in this city.

The event, May 20-27, will host speakers, such as Jonah Peritti’s keynote address on Buzzfeed’s “humble beginnings,” panels, such as Vice on “Conflict Journalism in the Social Media Age,” activities, and parties for over 45,000 attendees.

Festival Director Caroline Waxler gives us a preview of the event from HQ:

How did you decide the themes of this year’s Internet Week New York?

So some of the things we’re thinking about is what’s bubbling up in the bigger conversations, and also what’s important to New York. So some of the bigger themes that we’re tackling are education — and we know as we work closely with the mayor’s office that that is something they’re really concentrating on, crossing the digital divide, as it were.

So that is one aspect, and we’re also huge on making sure everyone gets online. So whether it’s small business owners who run a dry cleaner in Queens, or somebody who’s thinking of starting their own business, just how to become more fluent in technology.

What aspect of this year’s Internet Week are you most excited about?

IWNY director Caroline Waxler

I’m most excited about getting different types of content into the headquarters. Prior, it’s been advertising, media, and marketing, which is awesome and I come from that world.

But New York is a bigger place than that, and I feel like there are so many conferences serving that segment. And different niches have different conferences, but how about a place in New York where everyone can come together?

We’re going to have talks focusing on healthcare, some on sports, some on food, some on fashion, all industries very important to New York. But people can learn together. A lot of the same lessons adapt.

And everyone coming together with the purpose of being online, and focused on technology.

Exactly, and everything that’s getting disrupted. So the person who’s coming as a doctor to learn about what’s going on in healthcare may also go to the food panel and find out some things on health that they didn’t know before.

Why do you think New York is such a center for technological growth right now?

I think we’re in a phase where brands are focusing a lot on content, and marketing and distribution, and that’s what New York does so well.

As startups are focusing and interfacing with these different industries, then that’s why New York is really charging ahead.

What startup are you most excited about this year?

I love Makerbot, and Bre Pettis is speaking at Internet Week, so that’s great. He’s actually speaking about an education initiative; he’s involved with Mouse, and he’s being honored this year. He’s going to talk a little bit about Makerbot, but also about how he gives back, and that’s really important to me.

Do you have any advice for making the most of all the options Internet Week has to offer?

If you can work on getting time off from being in the office and [instead] coming there and holding your meetings during Internet Week, it’s a great place to meet people.

I would just go there and kind of camp out. Bring your laptop and do your work from there, and then pick and choose the different panels that are of interest. There’s going to be a few things per day that are of interest to everybody.

Even if you’re not a fashion and beauty person, you’re going to want to hear Neil [Blumenthal] from Warby Parker speak at the end of the day. It’s a great place, it’s in Chelsea, it’s central, and there’s going to be something for everyone every single day.

I think our opening party is going to be really fun. Lots of DJs, lots of things happening. That’s a great way to kick off the week.

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