Next month in San Francisco O’Reilly is throwing it’s second Web 2.0 Conference™. If you, your VC funds, or your corporation has $2,800, you too can attend. Fortunately for those well-pocketed few, in a complete snub to Web2.0 philosophies, they are “limiting attendance to maintain an intimate setting.” So sign up as spots are running out and there assuredly won’t be any formal distribution of new knowledge uncovered at the event.
I don’t want this post to be a rant. Augmenting anger levels is not why I write, the world has enough complaints to consider. Also I should note I have no argument with O’Reilly and MediaLive’s right to charge whatever the market will bear, though I can question their heart in the matter. I also wonder how sincere their event can be if the vast majority of Web2.0 producers and participants spend less on two to three months rent then the conference attendence fee. Yet I understand the current state of our economy and it was irresponsible of me to not have sought more lucrative income if I expected to participate in the business of my business.
But really, this isn’t a rant, as I have a secret I’m happy to share, a secret that comes from peeking over the shoulders of giants and social geeking with the webdorks. Jonathon Schwartz, Sun Microsystems president, described Web2.0 as “Internet 37.0.” His very correct point is that this is yet another slight improvement in the obligatory client-server nature of distributed computing. Wikipedia does an excellent job of defining this amorphic concept, and today I heard Ross Mayfield succintly say Web 2.0 is made of people while Scott Rafer explains the phenom as the Participation Generation. I love those two because they acknowledges that participation of the tool users is just as significant as the tool makers who sincerely made the tools for just those users.
So says I, passion, mojo, participation, inclusiveness, people and fun … serious fun are behind each of the inspired, heartfelt Web2.0 projects built and being built by minds more focused on creativity than money, more focused on features than accolades, more focused on making lemonade than selling lemons. Turn back the clock far enough on almost every single <air quotes>Web 2.0</air quotes> effort, such as Del.icio.us, Flickr, Meetup, Bl/MT/LJ/WP, Upcoming, Last.fm and you will find neither business plans nor powerpoint slides. What you will find are ideas based out of intimate desire not marketing research. You will find middle space development that hopes users will participate not only in the public features but designing the next version. You will find modest minds that know they are just gluing the last interesting pieces together – people that want to make something clever just to see what the world can do with it. Web 2.0 corporations like google and to a lesser degree ebay, yahoo are made up of teams and leaders of such minded people that still have a passion that drives their performace, as well as their paycheck, and they’ve been able to make Web2.0 happen too.
Web 2.0 is passion, Web 2.0 is people, Web 2.0 is participation, Web 2.0 is mojo, Web 2.0 is fun, serious fun. In fact it’s best you don’t confuse <air quotes>Web 2.0</air quotes> with making money, because it simply doesn’t translate to the language of power-point slides and spreadshits. You should also take note that convincing a VC you have the next Web2.0 hit is not nearly as hard to do as convincing everyone else.
Now what would be more productive is if we would start talking about Web3.0 (aka Internet 38.0), because that is actually where the next successes are or even better, the chance to improve society as whole. Perhaps it’ll be the end of stateless protocols and page-like browsing paradigms or perhaps it’ll bring the dawn of colloborative functionality creation abilities or trustful systems and identities. Who wants to roll up their sleeves and explore?