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This is Web2.0…?

I actually wrote part of this post back on Nov Oct 11th. It’s been sitting in my draft box in WordPress for sometime, but suddenly has become even more apt.

So the Web2.0 Conference Summit has drawn to a close. But it left me wondering whether O’Reilly is actually really out of touch with where Web2.0 is really going?

The event was well attended – but ‘officially’ only by those who had been invited AND THEN ponyed up the $3500 for a ticket. That’s quite a barrier to entry – and certainly dictates exactly who is and isn’t attending (that’s the point I guess).

Like many others (practically all of San Fran’s resident Web2.0 set, in fact) I spent a few hours hanging around the lobby of the Palace Hotel meeting people. But as I looked around at the crowd I was struck by the number of people who I associate with doing meaningful, useful and groundbreaking ‘Web2.0’ (for want of a better term) stuff who were not official attendees. In fact most of the most relevant people to the scene seemed to be people who didn’t have a conference badge around their necks.

Some of the people who were attending were the execs of the companies that I guess make some of this stuff happen – but most seemed to be people involved in derivative work not directly associated to Web2.0. If anything they seemed to be the industry freeloaders and hang’er-on’ers.

And check out the list of ‘official speakres’:

Sure, some of them are young but most seem to be ‘old faces’. Now – and I want to be crystal clear on this – I don’t mean from an agest perspective but from the length of time they’ve been in the business. Ok, sure that’s not all of them but most.

In my personal opinion (not speaking of behalf of the company), this bank of faces aren’t what I think of as the bleeding edge of web 2.0 at all. The stuff we do at Citizen Agency, the companies we come across and work with, and the communities we participate in are far more innovative, forward thinking and ground breaking than most of the companies I gather were speaking (since when was GM is Web2.0??). And hey, that’s why so many of the big guys end up buying the little fish in the first place!

Whilst trivial, I also feel that the choice of ‘guest musician’ – Lou Reed – was perhaps indicative of the tastes and era of the typical Web2.0 Summit attendee (and a great example of how out of touch many of them are with what’s current). Reed is an acclaimed musician but he’s hardly the embodiment of the supposed fresh and edgy bleeding edge of the Web2.0 scene. In a somewhat melancholic fashion, Lou was even quoted as saying: “who would have thought it would come to this. Iā€™d be playing at a cyberspace conference, brought here by AOL”.

O’Reilly needs to work out whether it wants to continue to serve up what the corporate and managerial attendee wants to hear for their $3500 – ego massaged having been invited of course. Or whether they want to get down to what’s really going on in the scene – the true disruptor’s of tomorrow who are only just emerging onto the scene. Maybe that’s what ETech is – but for many it’s geeky/techy nature is off-putting.

O’Reilly’s relevance to the corporate scene creates its irrelevance to those of us who are doing stuff now rather than talking about what just happened. Web2.0 Expo might change all that, but it needs to find a way of lowering the barrier to entry so that the real pioneers can participate – without being drowned out by the corporate and business attendees.

Did you go/not go to Web2.0? What do you think?

Published in Citizen Agency News Thoughts and Rants


  1. You posted this article on 10th Nov 2006. But the first sentence says you wrote part of the post back on Nov 11th. Nov 11th of 2005 perhaps šŸ˜‰

  2. Ben Ben

    Lol, I meant Oct 10th. Have updated the post, thanks!

  3. Jem Jem

    hey ben how ya doing…

    so yes. well O reilly do conferences for
    emerging tech, emerging telephony, rubyonrails, mysql, open source, location/mapping, and now the web2 expo thing.
    there are barcamps, foocamps, xtechs, geek dinners, meetups, and all manner of events for the web community in all its flavours. even you’ve had a go at getting a few people in a room and talking about what you are doing.

    so why are you getting your knickers in a twist over web2.0 or one event being overtly “corporate”.
    (whatever that means) . isn’t that the point ? and anyway its only a conference.
    who cares if they invited the wrong people or charged too much.
    someone else will set something else up if they are so out of touch and you can go to that instead.

    i think all young people should be forced to listen to metal machine music before getting sniffy about lou reed.

  4. Cameron Reilly Cameron Reilly

    jaysus ben, lou is a G.O.D. You should have gotten down on your knees. Without Lou there would be no rock and roll. He is the walking definition of “edgy”. His picture is in the dictionary under the term. Look it up. šŸ™‚

  5. Same thing happened to me, my last post was written in jan 2007….
    ok, corrected.

  6. It sounds like the organizers succeeded in attracting their highly-funded target audience, while also producing a useful event for significant contributors in the hoping-to-be-wellfunded community (even if only inadvertently).

    What leads you to believe that they can’t serve multiple audiences, whether simultaneously or in series — that it must be all-one-or-the-other?

    If you’d like a different event, then should that prohibit this event…?

  7. Richard MacManus pretty much nailed my feelings on the conference. He wrote, “This year the crowd was overwhelmingly from the media and business worlds … This year’s conference lacked in cutting edge new products and … new insights about Web technology …. A lot of the development and design innovators in the Web world were not present.”

  8. OK, so what would people have liked to see more of at Web 2.0? Specifically.

    As someone who organizes a conference that aims to be more cutting-edge, I’d be very interested. I have my own ideas, of course, but input from others is useful. Feel free to comment here or email me at

  9. Yawn!

    It all happened at the real Web 2.0 conference in Cork last June!

  10. Ben – it was great to meet you in the hallways of Web 2.0 & at your new office.

    I agree that a lot of the most innovative things of the web were not well represented.

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