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Web 2.0 Draws Near

By - September 21, 2004

web2Over at O’Reilly, Tim’s posted his thoughts on why Web 2.0 is a meme with legs, and he’s inviting feedback from his readers on what they’d like to see asked of all the speakers we have coming to converse. I’d like to do the same – you guys have always kept me honest, and the conference is really shaping up to be something else again. As Tim puts it:

I’m talking about the emergence of what I’ve started to call Web 2.0, the internet as platform. We heard about that idea back in the late 90s, at the height of the browser wars, but that turned out to be a false alarm. But I believe we’re now starting the third age of the internet — the first being the telnet-era command line internet, the second the web — and the third, well, that tale grows in the telling. It’s about the way that open source and the open standards of the web are commoditizing many categories of infrastructure software, driving value instead to the data and business processes layered on top of (or within) that software; it’s about the way that web sites like eBay, Amazon, and Google are becoming platforms with rich add-on developer communities; it’s about the way that network effects and data, rather than software APIs, are the new tools of customer lock-in; it’s about the way that to be successful, software today needs to work above the level of a single device; it’s about the way that the Microsofts and Intels of tomorrow are once again going to blindside established players because all the rules of business are changing.

Time and again as I report in this space, I’m struck by how different this time round is from the late 1990s. For example, today I spoke with Jeff Weber, who runs USAToday’s digital publishing efforts, and we had a robust conversation about publishing models, new and old. I was part of the first wave of “new media” in the 90s, and we were convinced that the world was changing, but wrong in the timing and execution. Now, a whole host of “lightweight publishers” have sprung up, and they are challenging and undermining the entire cost structure and business model of old line publishers. This time, it’s real. Weber pointed out to me that Yahoo News, which is twice as big as USAToday.com, and has just 11 employees. Then there’s craigslist, with more traffic than nearly anyone, and only 20 or so employees. How do they do that? They’ve got a very Web 2.0, lightweight business model, that’s how (and Yahoo aggregates content, then creates interfaces, of course). Over and over, in so many aspects of industry, we see this happening – travel, finance, media, entertainment, retail. It’s exciting, and it’s fun.

At Web 2.0, we’re going to talk about all this, and (this will be the last time, I promise) I’d really like to see you all there. I still have a limited number of discount codes to dole out, first come, first served (jbat at battellemedia dot com). The event is October 5-7, in San Francisco at the Hotel Nikko.

Even if you can’t make it, check out the program and let me know what you’d like to see asked of the speakers. I hope to see you there!

UPDATE: The Web 2 team sent out a release today with all sorts of info and goodies, and I should have at least pointed out the hightlights. Quoting from the release:

The Web 2.0 Conference has been chosen by several leading companies and entrepreneurs to debut their businesses and new products. Special announcements will be made by Web 2.0 Conference founding sponsors eBay, Morpheus, NetSuite, PayPal and Sxip, along with the introduction of new companies by industry leaders such as Marimba Founder Kim Polese, Internet entrepreneur and Excite founder Joe Kraus, IdeaLab CEO and Overture founder Bill Gross, StreamCast founder Michael Weiss and Red Herring co-founder Christopher Alden with Kevin Burton, creator of the NewsMonster aggregator. The Web 2.0 Conference is the first-ever second generation Internet business conference that brings together the leading Internet industry figures and companies to discuss and debate the most important issues and strategies driving the Internet economy and will take place October 5-7, 2004 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.

During Web 2.0 Conference sessions and workshops, additional announcements will be made by presenters such as Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, with several other speakers introducing their companies on stage during their presentations. Each full day of networking, discussion and debate will be followed by entertaining evening programs, highlighted by a dinner conversation with Mark Cuban on Tuesday, October 5. Other events that evening include a cocktail party sponsored by SparkPR and the


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