Is Data The New Performance?



This year’s Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal

…Exsqueeze me?

Never mind. How was Web Summit?

Web Summit is where humanity rushes towards its extinction….

Right so.

This would explain a few things. For instance, what do any of the companies exhibiting at Web Summit actually do?

Much of the conference space is given over to these start-up exhibitors; each of them gets a meter of wall and a plug socket for their laptop, along with a big sign in which they announce their ambitions in terms that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Of course, the tech industry has its own specialized discourse, so while one company announces that it “brings the next generation of B2C, B2B, B2E platforms to a high qualified partners network supported by a great business model,” you can make the vague assumption that all this gibberish might actually mean something to someone somewhere.

Similarly, with TrackingDoc, tagline “selling is a game,” which lets you “discover how people engage with your sales documents.” It’s a strange kind of language, all modifiers bleached lifeless by cliché, employing the most grandiose terms (‘discover,’ ‘transformational,’ ‘revolution’) to describe what tends to be a new way of doing paperwork, spinning precariously on the edge of meaninglessness, but it’s still language.

But what about the firm calling itself (for unknown and possibly unpleasant reasons) Kwanko, announcing simply that “data is the new performance?

Or Lapa, which claims without any other information to be “transforming the way people search and protect all the things they can’t live without?” Or CrowdT, a “crowdfunding platform using apparel to raise funds?

This isn’t meaning, in any of its usual senses, something that exists to be understood, but the zombie signifier, words building and feeding on each other to form a system terrifyingly self-sustaining and utterly opaque.


Watching the World Rot at Europe’s Largest Tech Conference (Sam Kriss, The Atlantic)

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32 thoughts on “Is Data The New Performance?

  1. Yoda_

    Are there porno stands at this? Considering most internet traffic is porn, there must be money going into it from institutional investors.

    I’ll bet there are major pension funds invested in it.

    1. Panty Christ

      P0rn is the reason VHS, DVD-CD rom and DVD were so successful platforms to distribute data on. Nobody ever heard of p0rn vinyl or beta-max now did they.

  2. nellyb

    “Tech companies are roaringly productive, but they don’t need to produce anything in particular. Only the anxiety and desperation of a species liberated from purpose.” – hefty!

  3. Junkface

    Seems like there is a lot of boll0x talk in this industry, for what is essentially a bunch of get rich quick schemes that maybe 3% or lower will ever succeed in, or create something actually useful.

    Its like the goldrush in 19th Century California

      1. Plyskeen

        How is that different from today, when anyone who can do a database query is a data scientist, and anyone who can copy and paste from stack overflow is a DevOps developer?

  4. Plyskeen

    It’s just another economic bubble (Machine Learning, Social Media, IoT, Big Data, Virtual Reality… pretty much all sectors of IT are very or extremely overstretched at the moment – it’s just obvious now because we are at the end the business cycle). Just wait a few months and it will all come crashing down as usual. I wonder if the trigger will be Yellen increasing the interest rates in the USA, Facebook not being protected by the CDA 230 anymore, or Trump just taking revenge on most of Silicon Valley.

    No bailouts this time for the computer monkeys, though.

    1. Junkface

      Its almost a guarantee that Trump will heroically F*** everything up in the international Markets bringing on another massive World wide economic depression, while sending USA’s education system back to the dark ages, making the poor even more ignorant, and suspicious of acedemics which is what all Billionaire Narcissists want. Then when he’s impeached or after 4 yrs he can go around snapping up properties for cheap because he’s a vulture.

      1. Plyskeen

        I would watch where Peter Thiel puts his money on, though. I have the feeling that Trump is going to purge the sector, to drop prices and let him buy cheap a large chunk of what is left (as a reward for being almost the only person in the sector who supported him). But Bezos – Zuckerberg – Page can consider themselves pretty screwed alright (I wonder if they are benefiting from any of Obama’s executive orders that are going to be taking down immediately).

    2. nellyb

      Was no bailout for dot com crash either. Computer monkeys went off to become monkey lawyers, monkey teachers and other types of monkey genus. Quietly and successfuly.

      1. Plyskeen

        The bailout reference was compared to investment bankers in 2008. The narrative will soon change -for the IoT it is already changing- and the media will portray the computer monkeys as evil minions, even worse than the mentioned investment bankers in 2008 (who might steal your pension fund’s money alright, but at least didn’t steal your dick pictures from your phone!).

        I’m afraid that this is going to be worse than the 1999 one, though – there are more people working in the sector, a lot more money being invested in, less room for sustainable growth, and fewer resources left to counteract the recession (less space to drop interest rates, etc).

        1. nellyb

          Roger, I agree it’s likely to be ugly again. There is definitely sense of deja vu in the air. I feel very sorry for people who need to buy a house this or next year. They’ll be fleeced and discarded, as before.
          In a mean time, 6 years into recession:
          “Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has said he “hopes” that the cycle of boom and bust in Ireland has been permanently broken but economists said it was impossible to break the cycle and dangerous to try.” (
          All people, not just young, need to start thinking seriously about viable emigration options. To weather the worst and come back in a few years time. We have no means of influencing our government anymore, hence absolved from responsibilities for its actions and debts.

          1. Plyskeen

            Don’t they always say that the cycle of boom and bust has been broken (“New Paradigm” in the states of a bubble graph) right before the bust? Sigh!

      2. DubLoony

        Web 1.0 collapsed, they went away and got involved in web 2.0 apps, mobile, (anti)social media and have you glued to your little screen all the time.

  5. edalicious

    Essentially most of the people there do bullpoo jobs that have been created because we, as a species, have become efficient enough at making the food and clothes and stuff that we actually need to survive so now there’s a load of people but not enough meaningful, necessary jobs to go around. The sooner we bring in basic income, the better; we won’t have to listen to a load of twits going on about their crowdfunded startup anymore. Or possibly we’ll have to listen to MORE of them, who knows…

    1. Kieran NYC

      The number of wishy-washy BS reports I’ve had to read over the past year hastily written by companies who are just desperate to show that they’ve published a blockchain report…

  6. Sam Quisss

    This is a piece which could never have been written while websummit was at Dublin – tech press here way too chummy

  7. DubLoony

    “all this gibberish might actually mean something to someone somewhere.”
    It does
    B2C = Business to Consumer
    B2B = Business to Business
    B2E = Business to Employee

    Easy to slag off an industry if you don’t understand the lingos but it employees 105,000 thousand people here.
    There are charlatans but there are also solid operations that modern life wouldn’t be possible without.
    And a lot we could if we just got our damn thumbs off the phone.

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