The Year of Validation
FWB Staff

Wed Feb 21 2024

For FEST24, our programmatic inquiry spotlights the forever push-pull of innovation and adoption.

2022 was an experiment. After two years of relentless online activity, equipped with tools and group chats that hoped for a better internet, we were ready to materialize our digital world. Would globally dispersed online friends drive into the woods of Idyllwild for a long weekend of sound, ideas and experiences driven by emerging technology? The answer was a resounding “yes.”

2023 tested a new thesis. Could we position FEST as a platform for other emerging tech brands and communities to extend our exploration of a better internet? Deep in the throes of seismic technological and economic shifts, we questioned the inevitability of technology and its usefulness— did anybody really need this stuff? The answer was yet again “yes.”

In 2024, our programmatic inquiry spotlights the forever push-pull of innovation and adoption. This year, we turn our attention to validation.

Our need for innovative solutions is urgent. Our collective burdens–global in scale, local in practice–are generations in the making. Our attempts at progress are paralyzed by pre-existing models, tired ideas, and limiting language. That’s why FEST exists: it’s our cultural playground of meta/physical and intellectual spaces opening our social imagination to new possibilities.

Henry Ford is alleged to have said that if he asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said “faster horses.” At the beginning of the 20th century, cars were still an emerging technology, not unlike the emerging tech we’re building today, one hundred years later.

Similarly, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke stated, "One of the things that's exciting about music is the idea of making people feel something they didn't know they needed to feel." Yorke's observation about music's ability to evoke unexpected emotions mirrors our approach to innovation. Just as music can reveal unanticipated feelings and needs, our vision for FEST is to spotlight solutions that people may not even realize they require.

Whether referring to cars, music or blockchains, people say they want Product X when what they really desire is Innovation Y. Just like how Ford delivered on the value proposition of a faster horse via a machine, the best builders today read between the lines to discover what users yearn for. The best builders deliver Innovation Y despite being called to develop Product X.

Last year, we asked if anyone actually needs emerging technologies and the industries that spring up around them. We explored the impact that these technologies have on our communities and cultures, and found that the positives could outweigh the negatives — if we get and stay involved in guiding their progress. This year, we’re exploring what it means to make sure we’re guiding progress in the right direction.

Validation can mean many things, depending on the context. We test code to make sure it works before shipping to production and let users interact with the software we labor over. We iterate on business ideas, and come up with constructs like ‘product-market fit’ to describe the magic that happens when people care enough to interact with what we create. We seek confirmation from our peers when we endeavor to try something new. Validation is the glimmer that allows us to feel our way through the darkness towards the brighter future we so desire.

It’s time to ask ourselves what kinds of validation are most meaningful as we continue to work towards what’s next in culture. Who decides what ideas are valid and deserving of resources? How can we have a bigger stake in the technologies that shape our lives? What does it mean to build community in a world where our interactions with one another are increasingly mediated through screens? What responsibility do we have to ourselves, and to one another, when we offer up our approval?

As we delve into these questions at FEST, we are reminded that the essence of true validation lies not just in the affirmation of our ideas, but in the collective journey of discovery, dialogue, and responsibility that shapes the future we create together.

This is the first announcement of many to come. We’re thrilled to welcome our earliest programming and festival partners in our quest for validation. If this excites you, give us a shout at to join the momentum of FEST24.

Speakers and sounds announcement drops in Q2.

FEST24, all your friends will be there. Buy tickets today at an early bird rate of $279 (!!!) that’s 30%-off the full FEST price.

Collaboratively written by your FEST implementation team KD, Jose Mejia, Paul Tao, Steph Alinsug, Alex Zhang, Greg Bresnitz, and izzyb.