So I turned up for the Web 2.0 Ireland day at DCU. Witnessing the Marc Canter show was entertaining and there was a bit of tech discussion sprinkled on top. But the overwhelming topic for the day was…
Yes, that’s an actual slide, taken out of context, from one of the company’s presentations. It was web 2.0 very much from a business person’s perspective (not surprising given that it was an EI event). “What exactly is this web 2.0 thing?” “What features and technologies do we need to adopt to get some of this web 2.0 money?” or “How can I tell that a company is web 2.0 so I can decide whether to invest?” Web 2.0 used as a noun or an adjective.
Here’s my take. From a developer’s perspective web 2.0 should be a verb, if anything. Ask “How can I web 2.0 my business?” Say “Our product is web 2.0ing”. It means you’re pushing things forward, doing things right this time, right by the web, right for the people. And you’re not quite sure what the final desination of your web 2.0ing will be (Hint: there is no final destination). You’re just trying to be valuable to somebody. Web 2.0 is not any one group of technologies or features. It is whatever makes sense and makes value for the people you affect. Web 2.0 is a vague, yet meaningful term that describes a movement, a journey. The reason there is no clear definition is that we’re not sure where we’re headed yet.
The most interesting things will happen without knowing exactly how they’re going to make money. Web 2.0ing should convey a sense of relinquishing control. Relinquishing control of people’s data, sure. Relinquishing control of taxonomy maybe. But most importantly, relinquishing control of your business plan. Admit that it’s difficult to predict who will use your software and how they will use it. Release it and be ready to adapt.
What is my problem? I don’t really have one. I’m not bashing Enterprise Ireland or the companies who presented at the event. They put on an interesting and valuable show. I have masses to learn about the business side of things and I’ll take every opportunity i can get. In one sense Web 2.0 is about the money. It’s a resurgence of venture capital interest in web companies. It’s not a case of they’re wrong, I’m right, or even that we disagree. I’m not trying to own the term, only give a different perspective (one that may be equally, if not more bullshitty, sorry). However slight a distinction it is though, it makes a difference to the audience at your conference and the ensuing discussion. Thursday’s event did contrast to the unconferences I’ve been at where the feeling really was “let’s push things forward”. I’d like to recreate that here in Ireland.
So we’ve had the Web 2.0 conference. How about a Web 2.0ing conference? I caught a whiff of it during Adam Green’s roundtable. There are hackers out there interested in pushing things forward. I want a regular get-together focusing on them (us). If you’re in teh Valley this summer look me up. And if another TechCamp happens in September I won’t miss it this time.