Web 2.0: Wave of the Future

My notes from tonight’s NYSIA panel on “Web 2.0: Wave of the Future”, in New York:

Web 2.0 Decoded—by Howard Greenstein

The slides for this presentation are at howardgreenstein.com .

Phrase coined by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly
Usually used to refer to a group or class of web sites/applications that exhibit certain properties

Is this really mass amateurization—or only the techies /early adopters acting in this fashion. (source : amateur.net)

Key diagram points:
– the web is the platform
– – you control your data
– -data is remixable
– – software as services, with interfaces to which others can attach
– Perpetual beta tests (e.g., gmail still says it’s ‘beta’
– Users are trusted allies
– Long tail phenomenon

‘web 2.0′ is a consumer version of real web services’

User-generated content (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tags)

Social software—value of content increases as the number of users increases: last.fm, flickr, webjay, upcoming, social networks.

In an open ecosystem, best of breed survive
Openness vs. faux openness—you can put stuff in, but can you take it out. (That’s what AttentionMarkets/root is analyzing)

Openness and Sharing—data is not locked into a site. Get it with APIs. (COM(MS), Javabeans, SOAP

suprglu.com draws materials from about 25 tag-based sites

often built on LAMP (Linux, Apache, PHP/Perl/Python, and MySQL’—an ‘anyone but Microsoft’ or ‘open source’ heavy architecture

According to Joe Krause, it took $3m to launch Excite; a few hundred K to start Jotspot—and the two services have roughly the same number of users at the same point in their corporate lifespan.

Ruby—scripting framework for rapid development of code.

AJAX—Asynchronous JavaScript—makes webpage look like an application. Ironically started at MSFT. Examples: gmail, photo sorting in Flickr, windows live, My Google homepage drag and drop

Long tail:

The long tail of search is Adwords/ Overture

The long tail of content is micro-markets—not dozens of markets, but millions of markets of dozens of people.
Not a market of hits.

Naysayers : Web 2.0 isnt anything new.

Who is hit by Web 2.0:
– media magazines
– recruiters/dating cos.
– Real estate brokers/recruiters/classified ads


Bob Wyman, cofounder and CTO, Pubsub
We think that the Pubsub model—the Net brings you back what you’re looking for—is a basic idea of web 2.0 . in web 1.0 we focused on the user’s needs; in web 2.0 we’re focused on the needs of the machines (e.g., better APIs).

Fred Wilson, Co-Founder and Partner, Union Square Ventures (leading Web 2.0 investor)
$125M fund

Joshua Schachter, Creator of del.icio.us, acquired by Yahoo!
Worked on Wall Street before being an entrepreneur. It’s a social system for sharing (for now) bookmarks. “Tags are the thing I invented by renaming keywords.” Founded 03.

Dennis Crowley, Founder of Dodgeball.com (recently purchased by Google)
“Friendster for mobile phones”. Founded 03.
“Technology that facilitates serendipity”
Now in 22 cities.
He teaches at NYU ITP: “Ubiquitous computing for mobile devices.”


Greenstein: “What’s the big deal with Web 2.0?”

Crowley: Web 2.0 is a framework for users to provide content

Schachter: with $8/mo. Account, you can get a basic database and scripting going. He recently saw a drink index with tags (aka ‘ingredients’). Compare IMDB, CDDB.

Wilson: Web 2.0 is an oxymoron. Why? Because naming your software releases (1.0, 2.0, etc.) is the classic release mechanism, but it’s the antithesis of how Web 2.0 really works.

Wyman: in the 90s we went thru a period where technology came to a halt, and we focused on deployment. After the bubble, a dessert, but now we’re in innovation mode.
Lowering of entry costs. Broadening of minds.

Schachter: Web services are interesting because they allow people to build on top of things. He sees few new systems built on other’s APIs.

Crowley: Dodgeball has RSS out, but not APIs in.

Wilson: maybe it’s too late now to start or invest in a web 2.0 company. ‘We saw this movie and we know how it ends.’

Wyman: more people making smaller amounts of money. Lots of people are earning a living from adsense/affiliate programs on a service they built. It’s a good living for them, but someone’s service built on Flickr API is not a good investment for VCs. They’re building subsistence-level businesses.

Wyman: Thousands of people are earning $50-$250/month from their blogs, and Google is earning millions and laughing all the way to the bank.

Wilson: consumer-facing web services usually can’t be subscription-based

Schachter: I have a buddy who runs a forum which now earns enough $ to pay his mortgage. That’s neat.

Wilson: two of the most successful Web services, Skype and MySpace, were sold before we could really see if they could monetize what they’d done. They could have been beacons for us.

Wyman: MSFT is soon going to launch with RSS/browser extensions/etc., and innovation in aggregation space will come to screeching halt.

Wilson: Apple has set price at $1.99/show, and that destroys innovation in online video.

Crowley: dodgeball is part of something much bigger than we thought it would be.

Wilson : so many of the interesting projects in the last few years were side projects.

Greenstein: ‘scratching your own itch’—solving a problem that you have.

Wilson: I like ‘myware’ (spying on yourself) and Last.fm

Schachter: web-based multiplayer games. My Citi bank account is more interactive than most things online. Flickr was a game company before they built Flickr.

Wyman: everyone is talking about ‘services’ not ‘sites’. The language has changed. Logic instead of data. A lot of web 2.0 stuff is not financially transactional.

Greenstein: structured blogging. Rather than force people to put data in structured places (e.g., ebay), they should use blogs and structure the data.
Wyman: ‘Structured blogging’ or ‘structured publishing’ is an activity.
Microformats is one set/style of encoding the data. It’s a style that relies on XHTML extensions/class names. XML is another method.

What’s the value to the using/consuming population?

Schachter: but how do you get people to do this?

Wilson: As a content creator, I’m never going to be very structured in how I create content—it’s too much work. Let the users create the structure.

Wyman: we deliberately have built no applications to ‘read’ structured data, because we want to prove that people will structured blog purely because it makes sense. Ex: Incredibooks.com . It’s a group of homeschooled kids (8-14) who write book reviews for their age bracket. The structure remains in the post. In a market of components, value flows to the platform provider.

Larry Aronson: I have multiple identities with multiple credit cards, using different services.

Schachter: Tagging is about recall

Wyman: 1st person tagging (technorati) is more vulnerable to tagspam than 3rd person tagging (delicious)

Schachter: Delicious has a lot of behavioral data , because it’s not distributed, so he can control for spammers.

Crowley: Each Dodgeball profile is tied to a real cell number. You can only spam your own social network.

Wyman: we used to have something known as ‘crimes against the network’. that concept is dead.

Schachter: email used to be a reliable system, but now it’s somewhat broken.

Wilson: innovation comes from when there’s no obvious thing to do. Innovation is inversely correlated with periods of hype/excess capital……. The Web 2.0 term was invented with a reasonable amount of thoughtfulness.

Crowley: web 2.0 is all the stuff that we did before we got laid off.

Wyman: web 2.0 is a lot of marketing hype that makes it hard to see there’s really innovative stuff happening.