What the Heck Is Web 2.0?; Tech Heavyweights Debate
A few weeks ago, my colleague Michael Taylor sent me a link to a webcast of a panel discussion from last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. I finally got the chance to watch the session titled The Impact of Web 2.0 and Emerging Social Network Models, and wanted to extend the recommendation to readers of this blog.
It’s an impressive panel that includes:
- Caterina Fake, Founder, Flickr, USA
- William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corp., USA
- Chad Hurley, Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA
- Mark G. Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nike, USA
- Viviane Reding, Commissioner, Information Society and Media, European Commission, Brussels
Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor, Forbes Magazine, USA
Peter Schwartz, Chairman, Global Business Network, USA
I haven’t often seen this “challenger” role in a panel discussion, but I like the setup and the always-contrarian Dennis Kneale plays the part well.
About five minutes into the discussion, Bill Gates takes over to talk about 3-D mapping and search, which of course have lots of ties to local. Many of his thoughts also echo the speculations we’ve made (here and here) regarding 3-D mapping’s potential as a centerpiece of local search in certain verticals such as retail and real estate.
Other important topics are discussed such as the government’s role in the Internet (ties to net neutrality); as well as thoughtful attempts to nail down the always elusive definition of “Web 2.0.” To Kneale’s point, I believe the term’s ambiguity simply comes from its overuse as a PR facade, and as a result has become essentially meaningless.
These panelists for the most part, cut through this clutter and some get close to an actual definition of what Web 2.0 is or should be. Nike’s Mark Parker, for example, characterized it as two-way interaction for media or product companies to tap into the wisdom of the crowds, compared with traditional media (i.e., broadcast, earlier online models), which involved more of a didactic content push.
To his point, on-demand content consumption that is at the heart of search, local search, online video and IPTV is increasingly becoming an expectation of consumers, and will continue to turn traditional media on its head. Meanwhile Flickr’s Caterina Fake contends that social graphs are serving to index all this content and make it searchable, sharable and socially relevant to users. Together, these things start to paint a picture of the new paradigms that are driving online media consumption — which is what some people mean when they say “Web 2.0”.
It’s a thought-provoking webcast to gear up for the next World Economic Forum meeting later this month in Davos. Watch the whole thing if you have an hour, or just take it in selective chunks (true to the media “snack culture,” which some might argue is a defining characteristic of Web 2.0). You can also download the MP3 file (podcast) and upload to your iPod and listen in the car or at the gym. Now that’s very, dare I say, Web 2.0.
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All the references to ease of use and the simplification are real food for thought in the context of local advertising and the idea of self-procurement. Posting is mainstream among consumers and small business owners are in the first line, consumers as well as professionals. Good video!