So, Web 2.0 2005 is over, I'm sitting in the AA lounge at SFO waiting for my flight back to Brooklyn and I'm trying to figure out if it was worth it.
No doubt, this was expensive for me as a freelancer. Was it interesting? Certainly. Was it valuable, did I learn anything? Not so much.
I learned that there's a lot of innovation going on, but much of what was demoed here I either knew about already from my insane Bloglines blogroll, or because I'd seen it at the 2005 eTech conference.
I learned that there appears to be a lot of money chasing projects around, which I'm not sure is a good thing. It's ironic for me personally, because three years ago I started out plotting various projects and learning the VC game to find out what I'd have to do to get seed money. At present I'm pretty much convinced that taking VC money would be the worst thing I could do. One of the speakers today talked about
companies wrapped around products, that the logical exit strategy is acquisition, not the IPO that many VCs would expect or require.
On balance, while I don't regret coming, I don't expect to be back next year unless I've launched something and need to pick up buzz. I think part of the problem is that at heart I'm a server side tech guy, and Web 2.0 is geared to a different audience. I plan to attend eTech next year, and will likely look for a fall conference to attend.
I was disappointed in the production of the conference, especially with the first day. The organizers seemed overwhelmed with the attendance at the workshops as did the hotel (one speaker noted that we all now knew the "smell" of Web 2.0 as we steamed in the various rooms). I know what it takes to produce these events, and know that there's always glitches. But for US$3k I expected better.
I was surprised and dismayed at the absence of women, both on stage and in the audience. This last day we had both Kim Polese and Mena Trott, and the CIO of the city of Philadelphia, Dianah Neff. Earlier we had Mitchell Baker, but that's it as I can recall (and apologies if I'm forgetting someone). I don't know what I can do personally about the situation (well, I could fail to succeed in my upcoming projects but that's not in my best interests).
The conference was very US focussed, even West-Coast focussed. This is a general gripe I've had with the O'Reilly conferences, and I imagine that they make a satisfying profit staying on the West Coast and don't see a need to expand to the East or Midwest. As for the U.S. focus, while understandable, it seems contrary to the very idea of Web 2.0 of putting good, empowering technology out for anyone to use regardless of location.
My "net-net"? A lot of innovation is going on, using a variety of technologies under the Web 2.0 rubric. Combine data, broadband, web services (ignoring REST vs SOAP vs XML-RPC), AJAX and you've got Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is about simple projects that solve straight-forward problems. Web 2.0 is not large, complex applications (though really some of this code is complex and is large especially when you wire various services together). Web 2.0 isn't about the enterprise...yet.
Personally, my lesson learned (an aside and apologies to anyone new here: after leaving IBM in 2001 I spent the last few years sort of wandering in the wilderness trying to figure out what to do next), anyway, my lesson learned is to just get moving on some of the projects that have been stewing for the past couple of years. They all won't succeed, though hopefully a couple will at least recoup their costs, but enough sitting around trying to figure out the right thing to do: set out, stumble, get off the mat and try again. So I'll get back to work on Yet Another Social Bookmarking Tool and the other stuff that's piled up.
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