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.


I’ve been Wagged!

It wasn’t exactly the debut on Valleywag I was looking for but I’m on a roster of folks scheduled to be booted from Yahoo next week:

Senior Product Manager in Corporate Development Ian Kennedy [here for another ride (maybe the tilt-a-whirl)]

Heh.  They’ve got me in the wrong group, I’m a Product Manager of putting some of my ideas around Social Media into action. The wifi on my laptop is on the fritz which kept me from live-blogging the Web 2.0 as I planned. I’ll let you know if my ID card stops working!

If you have nothing better to do, I’m sure there’s a betting pool going on somewhere.


Web 2.0 Summit – Launchpad

The Launchpad session last year was one of the more exciting sessions at the Web 2.0 show. This year they had a panel filter through hundreds of candidates to arrive at the “baker’s dozen” below: – music practice as a video game. Play along to background music and get realtime feedback on how you’re doing. Like Guitar Hero but you play with real instruments. – like Make Magazine for the web (O’Reilly, publisher of Make, is an investor). A collection of rainy day projects with community features built in. 30k members.

Klostu – Their other product,, tracks 300 million bbs members posting 50 billion posts/day. Klostu ties all of this together and works like a Trillian that manages your identity across all the systems. Simplifies signing up for an account, let’s you cross post messages and search across bulletin boards easily.

Sharpcast – their product, Hummingbird, syncs files across mac, pc, web, and cell phone.

Stikkit – Rael Dornfest’s first product, universal input for short notes that parses unstructured data and tries to make sense of it and organize it for you. Type something in manually into their post-it like interface or email your notes off to a stikkit-specific email address tied to your account. “Simple, not simplistic. Clever, not smart. As close to paper as you can get without involving trees.”

Turn – applies searchlike technology to advertising. No keywords, bidded cost-per-action (CPA). Turn is network neutral and can optimize across graphical and text ads. 1000 advertisers, 5M ads, 21M unique page views.

Sphere – launching contextually related features. Added as a footer to articles on Marketwatch, TechCrunch, GigaOm and others. The results page is a pop-up (that somehow gets by my popup blocker) which brings together results from Sphere, the publisher’s site, and contextually matched advertising. Downplays links for matching looking at content on page. Installs with just one line of javascript on your template.

Omnidrive – a “storage aggregator” that pulls together all your online storage capacity. Drag & drop simplicity.

Adify – a platform for publishers to self-organize. Matchbin is aggregating small town newspapers who group together to land national advertising accounts. Ready to Rare, a comic book collection network. Washington Post is using adify for it’s sponsored blogs initiative. Has a community element because ad networks are, to an extent, communities. – 3d browsing and chat, browsing becomes like walking through a mall or trade show. Works great for flickr and shopping sites.

oDesk – free to post jobs, free tests for certification, profile histories of potential contractors look like World of Warcraft profiles (number of missions, levels, talents, etc). Includes teamroom software to help you manage your relationship with your remote team. Work Diary is a way to track your provider with real time snapshots (at the interval of your choosing) of your remote contractor’s desktop. The snapshot feature was met with groans from the crowd but it’s important to overcome very real problem of trust.

Venyo – solves problem of “lack of trust” of blogs. Developed universal reputation management tool . Once registerd, adds little rating chicklet to your blog – users can than tag and rate a blogger. In some ways it’s like a mybloglog for reputation.

Timebridge – syncs calendars across systems – allows you to peer into people’s schedules to find out when they are free – get’s rid of the back and forth of trying to schedule meetings.

Don Tapscott – The Digital Generation

Don Tapscott wrote Growing up Digital and the Digital Economy

We’re going through an echo of the baby boom but the echo is actually louder because there are more kids than there are boomer. 80 million. No wonder we have a crises in the school system. This generation is the first to grow up “bathed in digital” and the first one to know more about something important than their parents. It’s not a generation gap, it’s a generation “lap” where the kids are lapping their parents.

He then went through several major characteristics of what Don call’s the NGen.

Freedom of choice – choice is important, “like oxygen”

Freedom to customize – 52% say that they change or modify things they buy. Pimp my Ride is teh #3 show for this generation.

The New Scrutinizers – 42% of those at the top of the adoption pyramid write reviews online.

Search for Integrity – the bullshit detectors are actively scanning.

Relationships/Collaboration – no concept of a barrier to sharing. 65% want a two-way interaction with brands they buy. Consumers are now producers.

Experiences/Entertainment/Fun/Playfulness – everything all becomes the same thing. 74% believe “fun” is a vital ingredient in any product.

Speed – immediate gratification allows you to better multi-task and get more done.

Other quotes:

“MySpace is not a social network,” that’s just the technology, “it’s a new form of production and distribution of music.” (and culture).

Christmas Shopping 2.0 and Riya

A little tidbit I picked up from a fellow at Riya. They will be announcing Riya 2.0 in the next few days which will take their face-recognition know how and apply to finding similar things when out shopping. He pointed to the rather ornate carpet on which we were standing and said that Riya would be able to recognize the pattern and find matching objects that have similar patterns. Apply this to things you see in the store and you have a nice little comparison shopping device.

I asked if I could blog about it and he said that it’s already being written about by one of the founders so no beans are being spilled:

Riya 2.0 would help most in hard to describe items for which searching inside photos was most important. Objects that had this property tended to be soft goods like clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, home and garden, etc. Looking at Hitwise we realized that while there were $15-$30B worth of these items sold on the Web, almost 65% of the buyers for these items were women.

We knew we need to reach more women. We would talk to the fashion bloggers who were had the largest audience online, but in addition, I wanted to talk to the traditional fashion magazines like Instyle, People, Lucky, Jane, etc. Millions of women each day read their articles. The reporters at these magazines were not reading Techcrunch or my blog and had never heard of Riya.

Use case: You spot a kitchen appliance you like at the local Williams-Sonoma. Take a photo of it with your camera phone and search for the same product online or from other retailers. For more on the impact of such a device, see John Battelle’s post, The Transparent (shopping) Society.

Just in time for Christmas. Tie that into the Jellyfish Smack reverse auction and you really have something!



Widgets Live


Put together in just a couple of weeks by Niall Kennedy and Om Malik, the Widgets Live conference was a timely event that capitalized on the catchphrase of the day and the fact that a lot of folks are in town for the Web 2.0 conference. The sold out crowd of 200 leaned towards the developer crowd which many of the sponsors said were just the type of people they were looking to reach.

Arlo Rose of Yahoo! Widgets traced his inspiration for the desktop widgets ecosystem he created to his early work on a product called Kaleidoscope which allowed people to “skin” (there wasn’t a word for it back then) their Mac OS environment. He reminded me that I didn’t really become aware of the concept of plug-ins to extend functionality of a product until the advent of the Mac OS Control Strip which, if you think of it, are the first instance of a widget as a small, graphical control for installed software.

Fox Interactive Media announced the launch of the SpringWidgets community (which I’m told will become a marketplace in a few weeks) and a partnership with Feedburner which will make it easy to turn your feeds into self-contained mini-readers that you can place on a web page as well as drag onto your Windows desktop. Very cool.

Photobucket’s Peter Pham shared some of their metrics on their growth (28M registered users, 80k new registrations/day) and how important widget developers have been to the widespred adoption of their photo hosting services. Most telling was a blip in their uptake which coincided with their renaming of Slideshow to Widget. We have to remember that the rest of the world has no idea what a “widget” is and that sometimes the more descriptive (but less trendy) names are better. Once they renamed it back to Slideshow, their growth recovered it’s old momentum.

The afternoon sessions featured panel discussions which explored each of the major instances of widgets. Desktop Widgets, Ajax Homepages (which are made up of widgets), Blog sidebar widgets, and widget aggregator services (such as Widgetbox).

Monetization was only touched upon but it was telling to hear that both Microsoft and Google are not really concerned with direct monetization and see the distribution of bits and pieces of their content as a way of spreading their reach and driving traffic back to their site. Affiliate models as well as a marketplace for premium widgets were discussed but it’s still too early to tell. Kevin Burton mistook the Google AdSense Gadget for a desktop widget that runs Ad Sense contextual ads on your desktop (it’s not) to which the room erupted in laughter wondering why anyone would want to give up desktop space to such a thing. In the Photobucket presentation, they mentioned that you need to be careful of running advertising on your web-based widgets because users that install them on hosted blogs may end up violating Terms of Service agreements for some services which do not allow for third party monetization.

A recurring theme for many was the prospect of widgets interacting with each other. The example I think of is taken from the old intranet portal days when you could drag a stock quote from one module onto a news module and run a news search using that stock’s ticker symbol. The Microsoft Sidebar team is thinking about this the most as they seem to have the deepest penetration into the stack to make this a reality but doing this on with third party information sources brings up all sorts of security problems which need to be resolved.

Sessions on Mobile and Hardware widgets rounded out the afternoon with a look at the devices that can serve as important endpoints for widget consumption. Cellphones are obvious so long as the syncronization and context problems are solved. I only want to look at a subset of my information on the cellphone and want to do it in a way that’s not only optimized for the mobile experience but also takes advantage of the features of my handset. The Chumby “squeezable interface” is my new favorite design idea.

Finally came a round of lightining sessions where several folks got up to announce things they were working on. I put in a plug for YPN’s new enhance page which we will continue to update as a publisher-focused catalog of the latest and greatest that Yahoo has to offer and loaned my laptop out to the Zazzle guy whos battery was dead. I found KlipFolio’s demonstration of their integration of desktop and mobile a compelling way to drag things into your cellphone a compelling way to move data around.

All told, a worthwhile way to spend the day if just to underscore the point that we’ve only just begun. The endpoints are beginning to define themselves (desktop, homepage, blog sidebar, cellphone) but, as someone mentioned, the most popular widgets are the same calendars, weather, and stock quotes. The real killler app is some totally rad social media app, “sitting on someone’s cellphone in South Korea that no one has discovered yet.” The platform is ready and waiting to pull such an app in and redefine the concept of a widget and how we use them.


Download and Recharge

So I’m off to a series of conferences this week and next which I hope to treat as my own version of think week to kick off my planning for things I want to tackle for 2007. I’ve had a year with Yahoo and a few months working with the team behind the Yahoo Publisher Network portal. Now it’s time to hold up my understanding of the business against the bright light of opportuntiy coming from the Web 2.0 movement and publisher marketplace at a series of shows over the next two weeks.

I was at Widgets Live today and Web 2.0 through the rest of the week. Next week I’m off to Las Vegas to get a feel for the search engine & contextual advertising marketplace at Webmaster World. The two weeks should serve as nice bookends for a holistic view of an online publisher’s needs.

I’ll post bits and pieces when I can get through on the wifi which is bound to be spotty. I tried to prepare by trying to figure out how to turn my Blackberry into a broadband modem but I am told that Cingular has blocked this feature in the Yahoo-issued handset that I have.


Once we can address the past, we have time travel

Excerpts from an IM conversation with a colleague in which we figured out how we will eventually be able to time travel.

It’s Friday. 

[13:15] jonathanhstrauss: as or more disruptive than web 2.0
[13:15] jonathanhstrauss: which i define as the disaggregation of the back end services from the front end uis
[13:16] finduseshare: didn’t apis and xml do that?
[13:16] jonathanhstrauss: yes
[13:16] jonathanhstrauss: thus enabling web 2.0
[13:16] jonathanhstrauss: which is when the basis of competition switched from who could afford the most bandwidth or storage space to who could create the most personalized UI

[13:17] finduseshare: next step is ubiquitous internet dialtone (tcp everywhere)
[13:17] jonathanhstrauss: exactly
[13:17] jonathanhstrauss: and device optimized experiences built on top of it
[13:17] finduseshare: ip6 is supposed to give us enough addresses so we can (if we want) assign unique IP addresses to every grain of sand on every beach
[13:17] finduseshare: i think i read that in wired
[13:17] jonathanhstrauss: and we will find a way in 10 years that even that won’t be enough
[13:18] finduseshare: because of historical
[13:18] finduseshare: need ip address for every state (new, used, trashed)
[13:18] jonathanhstrauss: yeah, time will become a dimension, like a Wiki
[13:19] jonathanhstrauss: awesome….
[13:19] finduseshare: once we’ve given an ip address for every object as it goes from new – used – trashed, we will have figured out how to travel through time
[13:19] finduseshare: you can ping your past
[13:19] finduseshare: ok, my mind just got blown
[13:19] jonathanhstrauss: lol!!!
[13:19] finduseshare: it’s friday
[13:20] jonathanhstrauss: alright, ive gotta get some food
[13:20] finduseshare: i need to ping saturday
[13:20] jonathanhstrauss: lol

Rocketboom for the Wall Street crowd


Wallstrip, the new daily video blog featuring Lindsay Campbell, is Wall Street’s version of Rocketboom. Same formula as the old Rocketboom – simple set, man-on-the-street inteviews, a mix of tech topics and snippets of groaners from the internet. The difference is that the subjects and audience for this show is the Wall Street set – if they can convince the junior brokers and traders who make the street click, this could get pretty entertaining.

Reuters opens up bureau in Second Life. Can taxation be far behind?


The 200 year old news service which transmitted its first dispatches via homing pigeons has opened up a news bureau in the virtual world of Linden Labs’ Second Life.

Adam Pasick, who goes by “Adam Reuters” in Second Life is the wire services sole correspondent, editor, and bureau chief.

Being a financial news service, reporting is focused on news of economic interest with stories and interviews of some of the characters and entities that keep the Linden economy humming.

The Reuters Second Life News Center also keeps track of the Linden Dollar vs US Dollar exchange rate and total USD spend in Second Life over the previous 24 hours ($436,291 as of 9:00pm yesterday!)

Reuters has also built an in-world Atrium (Second Life s/w required) which you can visit and Adam has posted his hours on the site so you can visit with him and pass on your scoop.

Markets are, to a certain extent, a shared hallucination. It only makes sense for Reuters to follow this story to its logical extreme and explore the edge of value creation into the virtual economy. The lead story on the site today, US Congress launches probe into virtual economies, is the strongest indication yet that what is virtual today will be real (and taxable) tomorrow.