Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Web 2.0 recap

So the dust is clearing, and I thought I'd chime in regarding how I felt about the "Web 2.0 Summit." Look, it's not for everyone (double entendre intended, as I heard 5000 people were turned away.) But it's carved out a unique and valuable niche in the pantheon of conferences. Here's some personal highlights:
  • Seeing Jeff Bezos, Barry Diller, Mark Benioff, Eric Schmidt, Ray Ozzie, etc. up there doing their thing with John Battelle. I love the theater / sport of it. It's not about "learning anything", it's just fun watching John angling for a scoop or seeing if he can get a bigwig to squirm a bit. Mostly futile attempts BTW.
  • The hallways. Lots of folks (the badgeless) just surfed the hallways and got a lot out of it. It was a total schmooze-fest, but not in a bad way. Logistics were such that you could reach the people you wanted to connect with, avoid the ones you didn't want to connect with, and generally keep exchanges short.
  • The First Round Capital "Pavillion" hack. Brilliant, as reported by Fred.
  • Hanging out with Chris Anderson at a dinner on Wednesday.
  • Lunch with Barney Pell on Wednesday.
  • I thought that the Launchpad was great (disclosure: I was on the advisory board.) It was interesting to see some perrenial problems (sync, scheduling) being addressed with a w2.0 spin.
  • Finally, and obviously, it was a great experience getting on stage with Filo. The more time I spend with him, the more I come to appreciate and admire him. (Off a considerable base!) Better than sharing the stage with him was the time we spent prepping, talking to press, hanging out, etc. Inspiring.

    Regarding W2.0, I've heard a couple of complaints. First, "The conference is now overrun with VCs." Yeah there were a lot of VCs there, but you know something, I respect a lot of VCs. Ain't nothing wrong with VCs by me. If I were in their business, I'd have been there too. Mentally conjuring the first ten VCs I can recall at the event actually puts a smile on my face. Most of those guys are hilarious.

    Secondly, was that there was nothing "new." I really don't get this. We're two years into a... "revolution?" Well, how about "movement." A movement with gigantic, sweeping, over-arching principles that are visionary, epic, inspiring... (Thanks Tim.) And you're bored? You want something "new?"

    There's tremendous value and craft to what Tim O'Reilly (and Chris Anderson, etc.) do so well. They offer us a framework, model and language for understanding phenomenon that are inherently true. They don't claim to have invented the phenomenon itself. This is what the prophets do, they tell us what we already know... and present us an opportunity to recognize it.

    So, I don't need a new religion, I don't need a "Web 3.0." Frankly I personally could have done without the label "Web 2.0..." but hey, whatever gets us clueful and on the same page. One of the things I liked about the Launchpad was that I recognized the application of “Web 2.0” principles to old problems: sync, scheduling, etc.

    So I'm not bored, I'm invigorated.

    The hardest part for me at W2.0 was "sitting on" some of the upcoming work that will soon be coming out from my teams. There is mucho goodness on the way. I can honestly say that I saw hundreds of cool products, features and concepts presented but none of them inspired me as much as the work going on within our walls day-to-day. And I hope everyone can say that.