The conference was beside the point

Cyprus was out of the question—getting to this island, especially after switching out of the eight-hour flight from Indonesia or Nigeria, would have been a waste of time for the presenters. So the conference took place where everyone would’ve had the layover: Istanbul.

I had been in the city long enough to have a sense of the conference´s neighborhood–something, which, I believe, set me apart from the rest of the international visitors.  It was mostly a residential area, far away from the cultural and media hubs of this global city and not easily accessible through public transportation–except for a subway stop which connects to the new underwater Asia-Europe line.

To tell the truth, I have been trough these type of conferences many times before, I´ve heard, a million times, of the impact of social media on the Arab Spring, the Syrian Revolution, business environments, organizational infrastructure, news layouts, and anything else you can think of.

More interesting, at least for me, was how the mixture of people reflected the geography of the encounter. Researchers from key players in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia and Libya; enclaves of Europe, like northern Finland and central Switzerland; digitally connected countries of Africa, like Nigeria and South Africa; small towns in Indonesia and even China,  all talked with each other in the hotel’s lobby and restaurant, making the actual conference presentations irrelevant, and turning the place into a platform to connect beyond the original topics.

Which, in the end, is what a global city is all about.


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