Unlocking Your Market Potential

Report on the 2009 O'Reilly web 2.0 conference in San Francisco
The Power of Less with web squared

Write-up by Keith Rayner, April 2009

Thankfully I heard only one mention of web 3.0 at the O’Reilly web 2.0 conference, and that was from Tim O’Reilly himself in his keynote address. This seems remarkable, as the first web 2.0 conference was way back in 2004 and tech folks like to push buzzword evolution along as fast as possible, but it turns out that "web 2.0" was a statement in time and not intended to be an evolving version number.

From the conference discussions across the board it’s clear people are still trying to maximize the potential of the web at this stage in its evolution, and exploring where the current explosion of user created content and collaboration is taking us. Tim noted the semantic web, virtual reality, social web and mobile web have all been progressions, and the web is now getting smarter by drawing in information from more sources – mobile phone location and accelerometers, bar code scanning, voice, image and music signature recognition, enabling more powerful and useful applications and more context sensitive search results.

Tim then took us on a more philosophic journey, enthusiastically postulating arrays of sensing touch points across a smart world grid, taking the just-for-fun aspect of the social web to a more profound level that can really benefit society. The label “web squared” slipped in, I guess exponentially leaping over web 3.0, quickly followed by the conference theme of “the power of less” and focusing in on enabling the government to improve services and reduce costs, pushed along by a “yes we can” tech community urging Barack in this direction. With the core value of the web as a platform harnessing collective intelligence and getting the user to add value, a good suggestion of the potential for government use was getting all patients to self-report medication issues, in order to identify adverse reactions more quickly.

Reinforcing the theme, keynote speaker Amanda Koster of SallamGarage followed up with a subtly impassioned speech on how individuals can engage in social issues in the developing and third world by visiting countries on photo tours and posting images and impressions as part of their social profiles. Their peers can then get drawn into dialogues on more important issues than the usual personal trivia, and themselves become more engaged participants in social change.

On a more cautious note, lessons learnt from the financial meltdown show that collective intelligence can get hijacked in the wrong direction. But what the tech community has learnt is that the creation of systems that evolve with the users develop great value from a small start, and accomplishing tasks more efficiently frees up cash for solving other bigger issues. And from the tone of his speech it’s obvious Tim is on a mission to get governments to develop the web to its full potential and wants us all to join in on changing the world for the better. Very inspirational indeed.

Keith Rayner, Kemarra Inc: April 2009


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