NYSIA Panel on Web 2.0

I was happy to create and moderate the NYSIA panel on Web 2.0 last night. As I was up on the podium it was tough to tell how it went, but I got some very positive feedback afterwards, as well as in email, which makes me feel like people got value and knowledge by attending. I’ve posted a PDF of my slides from the opening of the panel here. Personal thanks to Dennis Crowley from Dodgeball (now part of Google), Josh Schachter from Del.icio.us (now a Yahoo company), Bob Wyman from PubSub, and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures.

It was my job to pick smart people to discuss the topics, ask questions and get out of the way – these guys were smart and really added to the discussion. It is tough to blog while you’re moderating, but I did capture a few jems of ideas. They come in Random order. (If you don’t like that, check the title at the top of the page.)

Fred: Web 2.0 is an oxymoron – in that people in ‘desktop’ software release versions like 1.0 and 2.0, where as web applications get updated as the developer adds features. There is no 1.0 or 2.0. This speaks to what I referred to as the perpetual beta nature of Web 2.0 type companies.

Bob and Josh had a discussion on Structured Blogging. David Teten asked a question about Web 2.0 or social software being susceptible to spam or being fooled. Bob noted that when people put in their own metadata, such as in meta tags on pages, they can ‘fool’ search engines. When people tag other people’s content (3rd person categorization, like in Del.icio.us) there is less chance of search or tagging being used to spam or fool others. Fred had some more good things to say about “spying on yourself” and mentioned Last.Fm as one of the many Web 2.0 type services he’s seen lately that he’s taken the time to adopt.

Fred is the one that turned me on to the concept of Web2.0 being much more like Web services, and I’ve been trying on the idea that Web2.0 is the consumer version of “Service Oriented Architecture” that companies are trying to create. Open question – what do you think? Dennis had some great comments about how Dodgeball (like many social network services) is really built by users and the value is added as users increase in the network.

The whole panel seemed to agree that, though these Web 2.0 applications are coming to prominence and popularity now, they were mainly started 2 years or more ago as projects or companies. This may not be the time to start a Web2.0 company as the hype, money and PR engine is already running pretty high, and that is not usually the time in the market to get in on something (unless you’re building to flip or sell immediately and not looking to create value).

Bob had a whole thought piece about the value of component builders (which is what many of the web2.0 services ultimately are) vs Platform builders. In the MSFT history Bob shared, the component/OLE/COM/ActiveX/Com+/.NET builders were able to leverage the platform and create a market for their components. They could create good or sustainable livings creating useful components and small companies. But they typically couldn’t grow to challenge the size or market of the platform vendor. Now look at people creating Web2.0 mashups using Google, or Yahoo or Amazon or MSFT APIs. They are building the same kind of thing, in that, yes, you might create a site that pays your mortgage by having good content and selling AdWords or Affiliate Links or Amazon books or something, ultimate it is the platform vendors that are deriving the most value from the equation. There’s a lot more to this thought and I hope Bob will expand on it in his blog or elsewhere.

Fred noted that two really great companies, Skype and __??? MySpace (thanks Eric Goldberg) were bought before they had the chance to reach their full potential as customer-driven companies – if they had more time in the market to get customer feedback they could have developed differently. (if anyone remembers the other example he used, let me know).

Scott Hall asked a question from the audience on Web 2.0 – is there a ‘there’ there or is it marketing hype. General sense is that the marketing hype is clouding the fact that there are interesting services, companies, and products being created.

More links to others as they blog about this event.




UPDATE: http://www.onstrategies.com/filesnew/perspectives/perspectissues/pers_01_25_06.html – Tony Baer, who attended the panel, has some great thoughts on Web 2.0 in the enterprise. “…Google Map + Accuweather mashups for your supply chain shipping app…”  Worth the read.

 Pictures from the event: http://www.nysia.org/events/photos/index.cfm?action=thumbs&gallery=100010

David Teten’s writeup