Web 2.0 Summit – where do we go from here?

Various technological shenanigans kept me from live-blogging last week’s Web 2.0 Summit as planned so here’s my run down of the highlights from my notes. Don Tapscott’s workshop and the popular Launchpad session are covered in earlier posts.

The conference has already been covered in depth so I’ll try and add my own personal observations that are hopefully somewhat unique.

At the keynote, Tim O’Reilly mentioned that some 5,000 people were turned away from attending the conference. The standard admission was north of $3,000 so doing the math on that you can imagine why the organizers have announced a sister show, The Web 2.0 Expo in April 2007, which they hope will catch the folks wanting to attend just to see what all the fuss is about. Tickets will be more reasonable and the sessions will be more like the workshop format that you see at something like MacWorld or PubCon.

My prediction is that next year’s Web 2.0 Summit will be much more a deal-making platform for the VCs and tickets will be in the neighborhood of $5k – $10k and will feature a select group of startups and executives invited in by the organizers to talk about the latest trends. Tim said himself that “disruption has happend” and that consolidation was already underway. The Web 2.0 Summit will facilitate this consolidation by bringing the biggest players in behind closed doors to map out the future.

If this is really the case, it’s a double-edged sword. I think pretty much everyone in attendence had pretty much already grokked what Web 2.0 is about and are thinking less about opportunites on the edges and more about how to take over the center. Back in May it was about reaching the 53,651 readers of Techcrunch to launch your product. Today Techcrunch’s Feedburner chicklet is showing 125k readers and what was once a watering hole for early adopters has gravitated towards the center. Getting covered by TC is now a ticket to the adult’s table so it’ll be harder and harder to just play around with something and float it out there to the Web 2.0 watchers to see what happens. The need to scale quickly to keep your audience will require access to funding and the VCs and large internet companies (including Yahoo) are only too happy to step in and help out.

Despite this white hot spotlight on the community, I hope that the easy access to inexpensive hosting, open source software, apis, and rss give startups the right mix to be able to fend off acquisition or funding until they can take it on terms that are right for their business and their audience.

There were a few events during the week that point to a healthy community that exists beyond the glow of chocolate fountain parties. Monday’s Widgetslive conference, Web 2.2, and the Citizen Summit workshop were all enjoyable because they were smaller and more focused on sharing operational best practices than on grander trends. I hope these events can continue to keep the flame alive but I fear the temptation of fame and fortune just around the corner is going to make it hard unless this group can pull themselves together around a new meme that defines a new approach or business model – one we haven’t discovered yet.

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