Web 2.0 recap

Every time I read something about the recent Web 2.0 conference, I get a little more jealous of those who attended. One such target of my jealousy is Eric Norlin, and he has a terrific recap of the conference.

My original cliff-notes definition of "web 2.0" was that it saw that web as platform, and my attendance at the conference didn’t change that assumption in any significant way. However, what I did see was that the attendees saw several attached characteristics of web 2.0:

1. Open: the word "open" was ubiquitous. Everything is "open." An important note is that this does not mean that everything is based on standards – that’s not it at all (if anything there is a distinct anti-standard stance). It doesn’t even necessarily mean that everything is "open source." Rather it carries a vague connotation that because the web is the platform being leveraged, the web 2.0 companies will have "open" application programming interfaces (and things like this) that other companies can freely use for things like "mash-ups." (Note: "mash-up is a trendy term for taking information extracted from two APIs and "mashing" them together to create some new thing.)

2. Community: whether it was "end-users," "communities," or "user-generated content," it was all the same thing. In the Web 2.0 world, gathering a user base for whatever you’re building is vitally important. Indeed, the vast majority of Web 2.0 companies are not aimed at the enterprise. Normally, they are "end-user facing," or at the very least, helping to build "rich internet applications" that are end-user facing. As we mentioned in the newsletter last week, the community conversation brought heavy talk of "reputation" – a term we’re identifying as a relic from the Dot com days, and replacing with "credibility."

3. Architecture of Participation: I head this idea repeated multiple times. Simply put, the user base that is accumulated must be participants in the web app that you’ve built. Think Flickr, the online photo site that was acquired by Yahoo!. Flickr is a web application that built a huge user base of people that were intimately involved in building the site via open APIs that could be mashed together with other APIs (like Google maps) in interesting ways.

As mentioned before, the next big thing for the web is going to be identity – after all, we can’t move more and more of our lives, relationships, interactions, introductions, and transactions online and not have a better way of ensuring we are who we say we are, and being in control of our data. Eric mentions this in his recap:

Where is Identity in Web 2.0?
In one word, everywhere. The workshop sessions on the first day of the conference highlighted one thing — nearly ALL of the emerging web 2.0 companies (the startups) had user sign-up, reputation management, and de-provisioning problems. More importantly, nearly all of these companies were either A) building a one-off solution themselves, or – more likely – B) hacking around the problem and talking with other web 2.0 companies (some identity-based ones) about how to solve it.

Eric sums up the conference by talking about a three-way divide:

What we have, then, is a great divide – and its actually a three way divide.

On one side we have the emergent participants in the Web 2.0 space. These are normally smaller companies, but in some cases pieces of larger companies can be included here. These folks are adamant in wanting open, portable (non-silo’d), user-controlled identity. They also are not motivated by standards-based solutions, but care deeply about open APIs and user-bases.

On the second side, we have the big Web 2.0 companies (though this is a bit of an oversimplication). These companies are also (typically) not concerned about standards-based solutions, rather they want to find a solution with a large user-base and an open API — as long as its *their* open API, and they’re able to maintain some level of identity "silo’ing."

On the third side, we have the folks that weren’t present at this show — the enterprise solution providers and enterprises that have been working away on standards-based solutions. The near total absence of this world was disturbing if only because it feel as if we’re in danger of ending up with two very different identity universes. Again.

Check out the full article for a great recap.