By Ryan Singel
SAN FRANCISCO -- No one may be able to agree on what Web 2.0 means,
but the idea of a new, more collaborative internet is creating buzz
reminiscent of the go-go days of the late 1990s.
Excitment over emerging new publishing theories -- and the whiff of a
resurgence of startup financings -- this week drew throngs of geeks
paying $2,800 a head to the sold-out Web 2.0 Conference in San
Francisco. Eight hundred people jostled in the doorways of early
workshops devoted to tagging, innovations in search and raising
Web 2.0, according to conference sponsor Tim O'Reilly, is an
"architecture of participation" -- a constellation made up of links
between web applications that rival desktop applications, the blog
publishing revolution and self-service advertising. This architecture
is based on social software where users generate content, rather than
simply consume it, and on open programming interfaces that let
developers add to a web service or get at data. It is an arena where
the web rather than the desktop is the dominant platform, and
organization appears spontaneously through the actions of the group,
for example, in the creation of folksonomies created through tagging.
The theory has been percolating for some time. But it intensified last
week when O'Reilly published an essay on the topic, as well as a
graphic outlining the key categories of this new medium.
Ross Mayfield, the CEO of SocialText, a company that sells
collaborative wiki software to enterprises and that is hosting the Web
2.0 wiki, had a simpler definition for conference goers.
"Web 1.0 was commerce. Web 2.0 is people," Mayfield said.
The day was not without skeptics.
In a freewheeling conversation with Web 2.0 conference organizer John
Battelle, InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller, who recently purchased
Ask.com, dismissed the idea that citizens with blogs and video editing
software were major threats to the entertainment industry.
"There is not that much talent in the world," Diller said. "There are
very few people in very few closets in very few rooms that are really
talented and can't get out."
"People with talent and expertise at making entertainment products are
not going to be displaced by 1,800 people coming up with their videos
that they think are going to have an appeal."
That clear-headed observation didn't set well with some, including
media critic Jeff Jarvis, who promptly blogged the talk and labeled
Diller with the deadly moniker, "Web 1.0."
By whatever the theory, Web 2.0 is shaking up the status quo in web
publishing, and feeding a surge of dealmaking.
Small Web 2.0 companies are already being snapped up by internet
Google acquired Dodgeball, a mobile phone social networking
application, and recruited one of the princes of mash-ups, Paul
Rademacher of Housingmaps.com, from his job at DreamWorks Animation
Yahoo snapped up Flickr, a community photo sharing application that
relies heavily on tagging, and on Tuesday, bought Upcoming.org, an
user-driven events tracking service.
Wednesday afternoon's LaunchPad presentation, featuring 13 companies giving
six minute pitches, drew throngs, including venture capitalists smelling
money to be made from the cleverness of young programmers, and
representatives from internet giants trying to determine whether their
business models were as doomed as bloggers have prophesied.
The crowd was so large that hotel staff had to break down the
partitions separating three conference rooms to accommodate everyone.
The presentations included a demo of the well publicized, but as yet
unreleased, Flock browser, that aims to make Firefox into a two-way
Ian McCarthy of Orb showed the crowd how his software would let them
stream media from their desktop using any web-enabled device, without
having to worry about the format or bit rate of their movies or music.
Zvents.com unveiled its event finder (which currently covers only the
San Francisco Bay Area) and claimed it was far better than the service
Yahoo had purchased the day before.
Rollyo, short for roll your own search engine, officially launched at
the demo, unveiling a service that lets users build their own specific
search engines for travel or politics using Yahoo's search API.
Longtime RSS player Pub Sub unveiled its initiative, Structured
Blogging, to help bring the fabled Semantic Web into being.
Structured Blogging allows bloggers to easily add structured meta-data
to blog posts, such as movie reviews or event listings, so they can be
easily found, read and syndicated by other sites.
The ad-hoc XML (no standards body has yet decided on what elements
should be in such data) would make possible a search for book or
product reviews that only returned real reviews, instead of the
current jumbled listing of commerce sites and spammers that search
engines currently provide.
But the crowd reserved its largest applause and its gasps of envy for
Zimbra, a company which debuted its open-source enterprise software in
The software, called a collaboration suite, performs the same server
based calendaring and e-mail of Microsoft's Exchange Server.
Zimbra CEO Satish Dharmaraj wowed the crowd with his demo of his
Ajax-powered web client, which would display the calendar when mousing
over a date mentioned in an e-mail and call a number through Skype
when clicking on a phone number in a message.
Zimbra already has devotees working on the code and translating the
interface into Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.
Dharmaraj knows he's facing a tough battle taking on a flagship
Microsoft product, but thinks that Web 2.0-style collaboration and the
efforts of the open source community might be his savior.
"I would not like to take on the big boy by myself," Dharmaraj told
Wired News. "I would love to take Microsoft on with IBM and Google and
Apple on my side."
Copyright 2005, Lycos, Inc. Lycos is a registered
trademark of Carnegie Mellon University.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
*** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. This Internet discussion group is making it available without
profit to group members who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information in their efforts to advance the
understanding of literary, educational, political, and economic
issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes only. I
believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material
as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish
to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go
beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright
owner, in this instance, Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University.
For more information go to: