Media Squared might have been a better name for the recently concluded Web Squared Summit. Web Squared, aka Web 2.0. is an invitation only event that has typically brought together entrepreneurs, technologists, media people, capitalists and people from existing businesses like me that want to understand the landscape our business exists in, the web.
I first experienced web 2.0 in 2006, one of the first of the series that is now at 6. I was really looking forward to the energy of that event. The idea of the mashup was first getting legs. Facebook was on the rise. “web tops” were being built to replace your desktop in a browser. Web based alternatives to Office like Zoho were just around the corner. The number of people from startups and the number of VC’s who were looking for them, and were willing to talk about them, was amazing.
Web Squared as a rebrand of web 2.0 was in part a recognition that what was going to happen with web 2.0 happened or didn’t happen, but that the group should focus it’s attention on the emerging trend of devices dominating the web. Devices like mobile phones tethered to people and an increasing number of other devices providing more data to the web. Systems and applications can try to make sense of that data. Nokia really did a nice job of showing this in practice with geo enabled phones and the map based applications that could use it. I saw some very artistic visualizations of data which came from the San Fransisco digital arts community. The Web Squared whitepaper and some of the ideas presented were really interesting. This guy in particular, was metioned in the whitepaper, but he wasn’t there. We never really got many of the ideas from the whitepaper presented. I also sensed less energy in the famed hallway conversations.
So why the snarky title of Media Squared? The heavy focus on media, content, and the delivery methods that make it profitable dominated the conversation. I do understand that these things are getting delivered very differently than they used to be. Rather than people getting content passively presented to them via Google, they are telling each other about it as Tweets or Facebook statuses. Very important to advertisers. Since I am one of those tweeters and bloggers, not so much.
I did meet some interesting people and heard about interesting things going on. I’ll mark this one as a successful trip. I just remember the earlier version as so much more focused on the entrepreneurs, the ideas, and closer to the pea soup of creativity. This one was more than anything else about the monetization of the web.