Web 2.0 Summit 2008, Day Two

(This is a continuation of my prior post, "Overview of  the Web 2.0 Summit 2008.")

Day Two started with Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel. He focused on two big areas of opportunity that Intel sees. The first was "enterprise" (or professional) social networking. He showed a thought-provoking demo of the unified enterprise community network of the future -- tightly integrated communication tools, professional learning management, robust search and RSS feeds. The demo focused on a fictional Intel new hire in Asia and how such an enterprise web community would smooth her integration into the company and also accelerate her learning and effectiveness. Then he said something like, "Of course, these tools don't exist yet..." 

The second big opportunity was the "personal Internet," where the machine brings relevant and timely info to you rather than you having to seek it. This led to another demo, this time of the smart mobile device of the future. Features included machine translation (written and verbal) in the palm of your hand, instant commerce, lots of geo-awareness, etc. It demonstrates Intel's focus on bringing the power of the web to mobile devices.

Next up was Kevin Kelly, a long time reporter on the culture of technology who helped launch Wired Magazine. This is more or less what his first slide looked like:

The number 6527

Care to guess the meaning?

Turns out it had been exactly 6,527 days since Tim Berners-Lee transmitted the first web page. The Internet (r)evolution since then has been amazing, but Kelly really said we need to hasten the next phase, the so-called Semantic Web. It's about awareness and linking of data. First we linked computers, then pages, and next we need to link data. 

So what will the next 6,500 days bring? Kelly feels it'll go way beyond "the web, only better." He spoke of one large machine of interconnectedness, the Web Operating System (I couldn't help thinking of Sun's seminal mantra, The Network is the Computer). The web will "own" all data -- if it's not part of it, it doesn't exist. All devices are connected, processed, and structured. One media platform for all. Everything is always on. "Believe in the impossible."

This could be an awesome thing, though it does have that "big brother" ring to it as well. Let's hope the "security guys" get it right.

The plethora of iPhone enthusiasts in the audience were entertained by a talk with Ralph De La Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. Let's just say he's pretty happy with how things are going. 

The web can and will play a huge role in the future of health care, as discussed in the "Future of Health" panel. Lots of talk of genetic testing and online communities. Check out 23andMe, then order your own genetic profile for a mere 400 bucks.

Appearing in full battle fatigue, Army CIO Jeffrey Sorenson showed the military side of social media. The Army lags behind the speed of commercial innovation and is just rolling out Web 2.0 now. Security concerns are paramount of course. But we saw interesting demos of "Battle Command Knowledge System" and "Command Post of the Future" -- web based systems that will greatly enhance our military capabilities and speed/accuracy of communication.

The "Future of Media" panel provided an engaging discussion featuring Evan Williams (Twitter), Joel Hyatt (Current TV), and Ken Auletta (The New Yorker). I remember coming out of my first Web 2.0 Expo in 2005 thinking I had to start a blog (which I did). This time, it was all about Twitter, so I'm going to give it another try too! (I'm admittedly not 100% convinced, but time will tell.) They talked about Twitter changing how people connect --> will it actually change our culture over time? 

Today we are enabling "conversations" in every possible format, though the questions remain on how to monetize these new interactions. (They didn't have the answer, sorry.) 

I found Hyatt's thoughts on Current TV provided a refreshing perspective:

  • Many people innovate, then look for a business model. They did the opposite.
  • They're developing "user generated advertising" (he showed a clip of a Toyota commercial made with a hand held video camera). Their study shows these ads are "preferred 9 to 1."
  • The networks are focused on moving TV to the Internet. Current is focused on moving the Internet experience to TV. 

Next speaker, Saul Griffith, a rocket scientist type for sure, reminded us that we all contribute to the energy crisis. We all have to help solve it. He's built a very clever web site that lets you easily determine how much energy you use in a day. He suspects we'll all be surprised and ultimately better conservationists after finding that out.

I have a 17 years old son, so couldn't help noticing the physical similarities to Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Yes, he's young, but he was very composed and well-spoken. (BTW, it's been a big week for 24 year olds around here!) He took some heat for the closed nature of the Facebook platform, but that's changing, and he said there is a natural progression from closed to open systems over time. (That's a key part of Sun's open source vision, so let's hope he's right.) He spoke of a long term goal to enable people to share information any way they want on any device. How to make money? Think of how to best entice customers to share information, then deliver "engagement ads" that are highly effective. 

A very high powered (pun intended) panel was up next on Cloud Computing -- Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware, Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com, Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe, and David Gerard, Google. You know this is one of the hottest topics of '08 and extremely well covered, so I don't think there was a lot of news coming out of this. Some interesting concepts were mentioned though:

  • Information will outlive devices and applications; the cloud becomes the "information bank."
  • Providers have to protect, enable access, and add value to information stored with them.
  • We're hitting the "fourth generation" of software, getting back the richness of client-server applications (which we lost with Web v1.0) but keeping the power of the Internet.
  • They need to provide the tools to enable the movement of apps to the cloud.
  • We need to break down the disconnect between rich customer experiences and pedestrian enterprise experiences.
    • What if you had a rich Flash interface to SAP? (Adobe wants to be the "interface to the cloud.")
  • It doesn't have to be a low margin business. Differentiate by providing unique value and/or a large ecosystem.
  • Clouds are still proprietary, though. More value will be created as they interoperate and provide new services. (We're seeing this now with Salesforce's integration with Google Apps, for ex.) 
    • Standardization is needed, as well as new data models that break down data silos.
  • Eventually, consider we'll have "personal clouds" as opposed to multiple friend lists on separate web sites.

Shifting back to the future of advertising, there was a talk with Jack Klues of Vivaki -- they control billions and billions of dollars in ad budgets for some of the world's biggest brands. His message for weathering the economic storm:

  • Maintaining and protecting brand is at least as important during a downturn as any other time.
  • You can increase share as media buys become cheaper.
  • Don't lose sight of what people care about; keep on message and brand.
  • Continue to look at how to optimally blur the lines between advertising and content (ethically, of course...)

A "Launch Pad" event was next. Five start-ups gave their elevator pitch to a panel of VCs. The audience voted on our favorite by texting votes which were tabulated and projected real time. I agreed with the winning choice, GoodGuide. Great concept and valuable info -- take a look. (No real losers here, all were of interest but not sure they'll all survive: Predictify, Sungevity, Everyscape, Qik.)

The day closed with a Music discussion with Chris DeWolfe, co-founder of MySpace, and Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner Music. It was a bit too much focused on the launch of MySpace Music I thought. They said the music industry will be "very different in 5 years," but not necessarily how. And with that, another long but stimulating day ended.

Continue to read about Day 3...


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I helped design, build, and manage download systems at Sun for many years. Recently I've focused on web eMarketing systems. Occasionally, I write about other interests, such as holography and jazz guitar. Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/garyzel


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