Mena's Corner: My Week at Web 2.0.
As promised, I offer some brief impressions of the Web 2.0 conference that O'Reilly held last week in San Francisco. A very worthwhile conference with a buzz I've never quite experienced before. There's definitely a lot of life right now in our space and O'Reilly and Battelle were able to capture it well.
That Stepford Feeling
Picture a combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives. But instead of aliens or robots, they were Yahoo! and Google employees. Where did all my friends go and who are these people now wearing purple and yellow?
On my panel I made a comment about how after this last week at the conference, I think Web 2.0 is about consolidation. Believe me, I'm happy for those who have made the decision to exit through acquisition or to join these companies -- I certainly understand the attraction of selling and being able to have more resources, larger teams and large-company advantages. That said, it wasn't until this conference last week that I, personally, realized how Six Apart is not a small company nor a big company. I haven't felt so much like an in-betweener since I was eleven.
The buzz word of Web 2.0 was openness. If there is truth in this, then the big players and small players and medium players should all be able to work together. Hopefully, this is the case.
Oh my God! A real, live teenager!
The most enjoyable panel, by far, was the teenager consumption panel moderated by Safa Rashtchy, of Piper Jaffray. In watching these kids talk, I realized how infrequently we come in contact with teenagers -- at least this breed of social, functional teenager. They were candid and honest with their answers because they weren't on message or thought that there might be a "right" answer. Many of them expressed their distrust of media (particularly Fox News) in the same breath that they talked about their usage of MySpace. During the panel, the "did-you-know-that-there-is-no-Santa-Claus" person in me wanted to ask them if they knew who owned MySpace. I held back, thankfully.
After the panel I cornered one of the teenagers and enlightened him about the existence of Skype. He seemed genuinely excited. To his parents: I'm sorry.
My takeaway from this panel is that we need to see more people from the non-technical world talk about what they do with the Internet. Someone suggested that a panel just like this one, but with mothers and fathers, would be incredibly insightful.
Web 2.0 is People!
An oft-repeated phrase, Web 2.0 is people. Or rather, software, services and platforms that are enabling communications. On our panel, I was asked what type of company should Six Apart be considered as: a software company, media company or communications company? To a certain extent, I think we can be considered to be all three, though communications is by far our largest focus. I hope this is evident by what we're doing with Comet.
My takeaway from the conference?
A teenager working on web services at Yahoo! would be ultimate Web 2.0. [Six Apart News]