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See who is speaking!

We just updated our speakers page with the full set of reciprocal pairs. It's a really cool lineup: Michael and Priya, Chad and Shan, Anil and Molly.

But we don't publish everything that’s happening in advance. In addition to the main headlines, there will be the welcome reception on Monday evening, and on Tuesday afternoon we’ll have a roundtable discussion with the speakers, as well as attendee lightning talks, as well as group sessions, an escape room and loads of extra opportunities to interact.

It's going to be a good show. Can't wait to see everyone in just a few weeks now!

Last call for regular tickets!

TNT is a pretty complex event to organise, so we decided to cut off ticket sales nice and early to give us a bit more ability to get ahead of the logistics in the run up to the event.

Last year we did this on March 1, but that was tricky this year because of Easter, and then we gave it an extra few weeks due to some travel and indeed we heard that we were affected by the Unpkg downtime.

Tomorrow afternoon, we'll be stopping regular ticket sales and focussing on our scholarship fund and some limited group booking opportunities.

If you want a guaranteed ticket and room in the Kronenhof this year, buy a ticket now.

Our next headline announcement: Anil Dash

In the context of Eamon’s post celebrating our love of stories, it’s a pleasure to announce our second headline speaker this year: Anil Dash.

Anil has been telling stories on his blog for 25 years. He is an optimist, filled with hope that we can course-correct on things like building a better web. He is also—where appropriate—critical of the status quo, and seeks to be part of shaping a more equitable future.

We’re incredibly proud that Anil has agreed to be part of This Next Thing 2024 and we can’t wait to see who his reciprocal speaker will be. No matter who it is, it will be an honour to give them a platform and share their message.

Stories: the Lego blocks of culture

“People telling stories on a bus”

This how we framed Funconf over a decade ago. At the time, we probably didn’t spend too long thinking about it. It just felt right. We knew it worked as a tagline because we sold out three events (on a bus, in a castle, on an island). It also worked as an approach: setting the tone for the whole experience.

This year, for This Next Thing, we want to get back to those story-telling foundations that we laid at Funconf.

Stories are like the Lego blocks of culture. I don’t mean a startup or corporate culture, I mean human culture. All of it. Everywhere. For as long as humans have been humans. Stories are how things have happened, everything from skill transfer, to organised human hierarchies. It all has historically relied on stories to be both the building block and currency.

Stories are natural and innate. They promote social cohesion, personal growth, creation of movements, commercial transactions, and even how we operate in our daily lives.

Stories are so powerful. They help us forge new relationships, share knowledge with one person or thousands of people. They help us learn about ourselves and each other.

Everything important to us has a story.

The best stories are memorable for people who hear them, and easy for them to share with others who weren’t there. Even if the subject matter is specialised, stories are often relatable because the focus is on the human’s experience, their feelings, and lessons learned. Stories are a conduit for empathy, they help bonds to form, and are a very human way to build connection.

We were reminded of the joy of storytelling during our food + drink + stories evenings, but more than that, the collective moments of those evenings are now stories in themselves, just like stories are still told of Funconf from 14 years ago, and our first event last June.

That principle: gathering to share stories, and creating new stories in the process, is so exciting, and it sums up exactly what we’re trying to do with This Next Thing.

And of course, we’d love for you to be part of that story.

What went down at food + drink + stories San Francisco

San Francisco rounded out our third (and final) This Next Thing satellite dinner last Wednesday in fine style. After three dinners, we’ve really refined and validated our food + drinks + stories format, giving ourselves a solid basis from which to iterate: both for future dinners like this and the social events around the main event itself, not least the warmups.

The venue was Penny Roma, an Italian restaurant in SF’s Mission district. The room was “The Upstairs” above their main restaurant, an intimate space that fit two long tables, with plenty of room around them to get up and move around between courses.

People love stories. Stories allow us to connect with people we haven’t met before in ways that presentations or lectures simply don’t. Stories break down social barriers and form the bedrock of strong relationships. Stories are also infectious, with one story often prompting another and then another.

We heard more wonderful stories on Wednesday. Our host, Michael Lopp, opened the evening with a simple story of vulnerability, admitting how – even at the height of his career, with years of experience – he still experiences imposter syndrome and the feeling of not being the smartest person in the room. It was validating to hear that from someone like him, particularly in a room full of the kind of folks who came on Wednesday.

Dinner started with a selection of family-style salads, with highlights being a highly Californian citrus-and-avocado plate and a savory mozzarella-and-dates salad.

Our first story teller was Jane Ge. Jane’s experience is as a climate VC, but her story was about finding small moments that capture a different perspective, and how sometimes we just need to slow down and enjoy the moment. It was a perfect way to start, given one of our goals of creating memorable, valuable moments for folks.

The pasta course came next, a delicious ravioli.

The next storyteller was Evan Phoenix, who opened by saying he was going to talk about “unintended consequences.” His hilarious, surreal story was about how he discovered via 23andme not just one, but two half-siblings. We learned about how it happened and how his family coped with this new information. We also laughed a lot.

Secondi was roast chicken and a variety of vegetables and side salads.

Serenity Caldwell, our final storyteller of the evening, brought us into the world of immersive theatre, explaining how she designs shows and experiences that deliberately invite participants to be vulnerable, while also ensuring that they are always comfortable in every choice they make, and how important it is to adapt to the needs of each individual. Again, this seemed so fitting for This Next Thing, which is all about creating out-of-the-ordinary backdrops to allow folks to create meaningful connections, while considering each guest’s different needs, goals, and comfort levels.

And there we have it, our first dinner series, food + drinks + stories, has wrapped up after these three very special Wednesdays in March. Thank you so much to everyone who joined us in Berlin, Dublin, and San Francisco. Thank you to our three hosts, and our nine storytellers. We’ve learned so much and have had three wonderful experiences, now firmly setting the scene for our main event in Switzerland.

Speaking of This Next Thing 2024, from today, there will still be one more week to get tickets, but as usual, to guarantee a room in the Kronenhof, it’s better to book in advance of the deadline. We can’t wait to see you there!

What went down at food + drink + stories Berlin

It’s funny how you can plan something for a year, and then you do it, and it’s over like that. It’s also funny sometimes where you plan something and you’re left wanting more.

On Wednesday last, we held our first This Next Thing satellite dinner in Berlin. I first sat down with Eamo in July 2023 and we discussed running other events in addition to the main one in Switzerland. I don’t know how many iterations we went through before finally settling on food + drink + stories, but I think the process led us right into the Goldilocks zone of event format, which went beautifully this week.

The venue was FREA: a vegan, zero-waste, Michelin green-starred restaurant in central Berlin. The menu very conveniently catered to nearly every dietary requirement without any changes: an elegant mushroom tartare, the most delicious arancini you’ll ever taste, a simple but delicious “Sorrentino” pasta, and a grand finale of chocolate with pear and sea-buckthorn.

The host was Tom Preston-Werner: Tom came and spoke at all three Funconfs, and we first met him in Berlin, so it was so fitting that he was the one to kick things off. Tom helped us to choose three storytellers from amongst the signed up guests.

Tom kicked things off by telling his own story about taking risks, before inviting everyone to commence eating. There would be one story between each course of food, each running about 5–6 minutes, and each just as delightful as the delicious food.

After the first course, we heard from Fiona Kelly, partner in Broadstone, who told a story about taking a chance on adopting a rescue dog, and it leading to her adopting another dog who is now being trained as a human remains detection dog.

After the second course, Tom invited Dani Choudhury, core maintainer on RedwoodJS, to tell his story. Dani told a story about how he got into amateur DJing, and how – while he never plans on pursuing a career in musical performance – DJing fulfills him in a way that his professional work never could.

We had a natural break in proceedings when the restaurant threw out an off-menu palate cleanser, much to the delight of everyone.

After the third course, our final storyteller of the night, Gráinne Walsh, stood up to speak about her experience going from working in tech to starting a brewing business, and the twists and turns that a career could take.

We wrapped up by tying the thread between us, Tom, Scott Chacon (who essentially named Funconf), and Jan Lehnardt, whose meeting with Eamon in 2007 could easily claim to be the singular moment unfurling events leading to all of us gathering in that very room in Berlin.

As happens with This Next Thing, Funconf, and every gathering where we bring together the amazing people in our community, the programming that we planned for was fantastic… but that’s only part of the magic. The conversations and connections that our food + drinks + stories sparked were exhilarating, and that is due completely to the participants. We are so grateful as always to everyone who attended and contributed, and we look forward to seeing you all in Dublin, San Francisco, and of course, Switzerland!

Our first headline speaker for 2024 - Chad Fowler

We’re so excited today to announce our first confirmed keynote at This Next Thing 2024: Chad Fowler!

Chad is CTO & General Partner at BlueYard Capital and has worn many hats over his career, including co-creating RubyGems, co-founding and organising RubyConf and RailsConf, and keynoting countless conferences around the world.

On top of all of that though: Chad tells an amazing story, is a highly accomplished jazz saxophonist, and consistently has one of the most thoughtful perspectives on where our industry is and where it’s going. We’re delighted to welcome him to Pontresina!

Exploring the adjacent possible - A This Next Thing Story

After last year’s event, we asked Patrick Finlay to write a description of what it was like to attend.

The result is Exploring the Adjacent Possible: part travel-guide, part review, part story.

Given that we hope to emphasis story-telling a bit more this year, it's great to review last year with a well-told yarn about the This Next Thing experience.

Introducing our satellite dinners

Before This Next Thing 2024 kicks off in Switzerland, we will be hosting food + drink + stories: a series of three satellite events in March (in Berlin, Dublin, and San Francisco), meant to expand things out by giving folks a taste of the main event.

The format is very simple: one host, three storytellers. Like the main event, we’ll be hearing stories about what people did and what they learned. Stories will be told between each course of the meal.

We hope that this will set the scene for June in a relaxed and engaging way, and give us the opportunity to meet some new friends.

Payment for these events are donation-based, with suggested donations of €150 / $150. However, we welcome any donation amounts above €100 / $100, as all additional proceeds from satellite dinners directly support our Scholarship Programme at This Next Thing 2024. As a non-profit organisation, we are truly grateful for any support that participants are able to provide.

If you’re interested in attending a dinner, sign up below: