Thursday, October 07, 2004

Web 2.0 Observations

Having written critically about the Blogon conference earlier this year, I am happy to report that Web 2.0 has been a GREAT conference, especially in contrast... Terrific speakers, really interesting topics, and (like Blogon) great attendees to interact with. And there is an enormous amount of buzz about the Internet -- a "resurgence" said one speaker.

What has Web 2.0 done right? Unfortunately for the future of conferences, they have returned to the model of the past -- key speakers or panels, narrowly focused on specific topics, and speaking TO the attendees not WITH the attendees. Now, the fact is that this model works and we haven't figured out the new model of the conference.

But it is worth mentioning that the two things that Web 2.0 tried to do toward a conferences 2.0 have failed:

(1) The idea of workshops is good (the first day of the conference) but the execution was poor. One problem was simply that the conference has been TOO successful -- a lot of people have shown up to participate. It is tough to run a participatory workshop in a standing-room-only meeting room. But the other failure was that no attempt was made to utilize a back channel for managing and directing the interaction. See my earlier post on this or Martin Tobias' post made after supernova.

(2) A Wiki for a conference COULD be a great tool, and the folks at Socialtext did a great job of creating a shell for a compelling online place for Web 2.0 attendees to interact with each other online. HOWEVER - organizers please take note! If your speakers do not engage on the Wiki and post info about their talks, and interact with attendees, and post their presentations, then you will not achieve a critical mass of value in the Wiki to attract attendees to participate. Thus the Web 2.0 Wiki is an eerily empty and silent place, rather than a vibrant interactive community.

Nonetheless, kudos to the organizers for creating a conference that hit a lot of the right topics, with great speakers, and an energized industry that is ready to leave here and make the Web 2.0 happen!

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