Refresh Conference: the highlights

Refresh Conference

Last week the second edition of the Refresh Conference took place in the Aa-kerk. Even though the focus is on frontend development and design, there was a very cool mix of leading international, national and local speakers and a wide range of subjects. Here are some of the highlights of the conference.


The end of remote work

Why do we work the way we do? Can we do better? Former Gitlab VP of product and current CEO of Job van der Voort paints a picture of the daily 9 to 5 rat race: “You get up, get stuck in traffic, sit down to work for 8 hours, get stuck in traffic, repeat. You have to live near work and for most people, your company doesn’t have to give you a competitive salary, because job competition is local rather than global.”

Van der Voort, who lives in Portugal, wants to change this mentality with “We already have the tools to work from anywhere we want. You could live where you want, work at home in your pajamas or go to the nearest co-working space, not get stuck in traffic and be the boss of your own time, rather than your boss deciding when and where you should work.” So what’s stopping us? “Rules, worker laws and taxes, but that’s something we’re working on changing.” And being so pro remote work, why is his talk titled the end of remote work? “Simple, in a few years, it will be the norm and it’s just going to be called work.”



Digital ethics

Jorn de Vreede, a senior UX Designer at theFactor.e from Groningen, discusses the ethics of design and digital technology. “Data is the future and it allows us to do anything. But should we? We’ve combined technology with capitalism and it resulted in the dopamine machines we call smartphones. So how can we make technology about humans again and not the other way around?”

De Vreede mentions three values that should be central to good, ethical design: trust, respect and honesty. “They’re key societal values, so why not incorporate that into our design? Give people the option to stop sharing data any time they want, rather than asking once. Don’t make people jump through all kinds of hoops when they want to cancel a subscription, make it easy for them. Put people first, be honest and it will pay off.”


Trending on Netflix

How do you get featured in a popular Netflix documentary called The Mind: Explained with Emma Stone? It’s about as easy as memorizing the entire 328-page IKEA catalog in a week, which is what this speaker did. Yänjaa Wintersoul is a world-record-holding memory champion and the star of multiple documentaries, TV shows and commercials including various talent shows around the world like Sweden's Got Talent.

“I was born in Mongolia and my childhood basically consisted of riding horses and being outside all day. When my family moved to Sweden, I had a hard time learning the language and an even harder time in school. I barely finished high school”, she explains. “But then I learned about memory techniques because I thought it was cool and nerdy. With a lot of practice, I was able to get in Business School and finish it in 2 years instead of 4.”

After a couple of very impressive demonstrations, like repeating 50 spoken numbers while jet lagged: “Am I on the autism spectrum? Nope! Do I have a photographic memory? Nope. I don’t think anyone has. There was this woman who claimed she could remember everything she did on every day of her life, but she just turned out to have a specific type of OCD”, Yänjaa laughs.

Photo credits: Aljan Scholtens