It’s among the most satisfying part of my job to seed new ideas, see them spread, take root, and eventually flower. In the process, they often morph into something unexpected, hopefully richer and better than originally imagined. But sometimes they take disappointing side-turns. So, for example, seeing Eric Schmidt equate web 2.0 to Ajax was disappointing. Especially since he went on to describe “Web 3.0” as small applications loosely connected and distributed virally, with data in the cloud, able to run on any device (my “software above the level of a single device”) — all things I’d originally described in my What is Web 2.0? paper. But it’s great to see a media story get it right.
In Information Week’sWeb 2.0 Expo preview, Thomas Claburn got it just right:
The Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco 2008, which runs April 22 through April 25 comes at an inflection point in this rapidly growing arena. Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), one of the major players in the Web 2.0 space, stands on the brink of being acquired by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is sluggish, which limits the capital available to Web 2.0 startups. Indeed, four years after the term “Web 2.0” entered the industry vernacular, many forward-looking innovators are focused on mobile services and Web 3.0, also called the Semantic Web.
Nevertheless, the conceptual underpinnings of Web 2.0, the Web as a platform, have proven to be sound. It might even be fair to say that Web 2.0 has won.Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Microsoft, and Yahoo are busy building upon the Web as a platform, along with thousands of startups and other large companies like Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Oracle (NSDQ: ORCL), and Sun.
Yet there remains a need to explore Web 2.0 in a conference format because some of its major issues remain unresolved…
The article goes on to outline some of those big, unresolved issues covered in the conference: user control of data, privacy, security, the nature of “open” in an always-on and connected world, the importance of integrating new mobile and semantic web applications, business models beyond advertising, especially in a world in which Web 2.0 platforms are becoming serious business infrastructure. Good stuff. This should be the best Web 2.0 conference yet.
Precisely because we’re getting through the giddy stage of “everything ajax, everything advertising,” and returning to an understanding that the internet as platform means far more than that, there is more innovation today than there was last year, even as some of the froth seems to abate. Web 2.0 is becoming real for mainstream business in a way that was unthinkable only a few years ago. As Claburn said, “Web 2.0 has won.” Everyone understands that this is the new game, not just something for consumer startups. Everyone in the computer industry, everyone in mainstream business, needs to learn the new rules, exploit the new opportunities, and help to invent the future.
This is a better time to be an internet entrepreneur than in the giddiest moments of 2006 and 2007. More real work is getting done, more real problems solved, than at any time since we first called out the resurgence of the Web in 2003/2004 with the name Web 2.0.