Kim Kardashan broke the Internet again! Well, the Armenian Internet anyway. When the organizing team of the World Congress on Information Technology, of which I am a member, broke the news that Armenia’s prodigal daughter was returning to attend WCIT 2019 in Yerevan this year, people lost their minds. That is until they took a moment to read up on the event she’d be attending.
The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2019), one of the oldest and most influential information and communications technology (ICT) events in the world, will be held in Yerevan this year from October 6 to 9. The three-day event will gather over 2000 participants from around 70 countries: information and communication technology leaders, CEOs and investors, policy makers and government officials, academics and technologists. This year’s theme is The Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril.
For many, the presence of such a well-known socialite and Instagram celebrity like Kim K at a prestigious tech conference may be cause for bewilderment. Others may even be tempted to wonder whether this is all just an excuse for Kanye West to finally walk across Lake Sevan. Yet contrary to the opinions of some, this isn’t a PR gimmick. As it turns out, aside from being the activist, reality show star, beauty mogul and producer that we all know and love, Kardashian is also one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the digital age.
The organizers of WCIT 2019 Yerevan decided to take a bold, unconventional approach to framing the agenda of WCIT 2019 that takes ideas—even controversial ones—seriously, from everyone in the world today who has something relevant to say, from both within the ICT industry and beyond.
Aleksandr Yesayan, President of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UITE)—a sort of association of local tech companies which works to promote the industry in Armenia and the main force behind WCIT 2019—put it this way: “Kim Kardashian West is one of the most followed people on social media. She is one of the most influential voices in the world today, period. We felt that as an extraordinarily savvy and successful businesswoman, as a pioneer in this space and as a wife and mother, she would have something important and interesting to say about the world of social media entrepreneurship which she helped invent and has helped shape for nearly two decades. In our opinion, a serious conversation about this subject matter is not possible without her participation.”
I can’t find any flaws in that logic. The fact of the matter is that tech is no longer about stuffy Silicon Valley dudes. In the last decade alone, advances in technology have revolutionized how we construct social relationships, how we conduct business, our approach to education, not to mention how we structure our democratic societies.
If Kim Kardashian’s 147 million Instagram followers formed a country, it would have the world’s ninth largest population. The original celebrity of the digital age, this American-Armenian socialite embodies the sort of social-media superstardom epitomized by the unique impact of technology on pop culture. As an early adopter, Kim has quickly grasped the potential of social media, wielding it into a successful business empire. The A-list social media personality has also harnessed the power of her legions of followers to promote social causes.
Having grown from precocious debutante into a reputable entrepreneur, wife and mother under the watchful eyes of millions, Kardashian offers a unique perspective on the impact of technology on human society.
WCIT organizers say Kim K will address a plenary session called “Marketplace of Ideas,” which will examine how decentralized technologies have democratized the worlds of entertainment, media and journalism and revolutionized the manner in which we create and disseminate art and information, making new stars along the way. “Marketplace of Ideas” will explore what these developments mean for personal privacy, social relations, trust in institutions and new business models.
She will be right at home among panelists discussing important issues facing the world of tech, such as genomics, ethics of smart cities, digital health, robotics and more. While this will be the second time I see Kim Kardashian in Armenia, this will be the first time I will be genuinely interested in what she has to say!