Web 2.0 Summit Runs Out of Web 2.0 Hype

Posted on July 7, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

While I, unlike some individuals neck deep in the crazy world of Web 2.0, tend not to declare entire industries “dead,” it’s hard not to notice the ongoing rapid decline of Web 2.0.

From the increasing recognition that after years of hype, Web 2.0 is to delivering profits to the fact that some shareholders of the hottest still-independent Web 2.0 startup to dump their stock, all indications are that the kool aid is really starting to wear off quite quickly.

Perhaps the most symbolic evidence of this is now found in the news that the four year-old Web 2.0 Summit (formerly the Web 2.0 Conference) has essentially run out of Web 2.0 startups.

The theme of the is “The Opportunity of Limits: Sustaining, Applying and Expanding the Web’s Lessons.”

In the first four years of the Web 2.0 Summit, we’ve focused on our industry’s challenges and opportunities, highlighting in particular the business models and leaders driving the Internet economy. But as we pondered the theme for this year, one clear signal has emerged: our conversation is no longer just about the Web. Now is the time to ask how the Web—its technologies, its values, and its culture—might be tapped to address the world’s most pressing limits. Or put another way—and in the true spirit of the Internet entrepreneur—its most pressing opportunities.

As we convene the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, our world is fraught with problems that engineers might charitably classify as NP hard—from roiling financial markets to global warming, failing healthcare systems to intractable religious wars. In short, it seems as if many of our most complex systems are reaching their limits.

It strikes us that the Web might teach us new ways to address these limits. From harnessing collective intelligence to a bias toward open systems, the Web’s greatest inventions are, at their core, social movements. To that end, we’re expanding our program this year to include leaders in the fields of healthcare, genetics, finance, global business, and yes, even politics.

Translation: the people involved with Web 2.0 have rediscovered the real world.

Increasingly, the leaders of the Internet economy are turning their attention to the world outside our industry.”

Translation: Web 2.0 is old news and the “smart stupid money” has moved on.

Thus, Web 2.0 Summit 2008 will not be filled with trite Web 2.0 applications and useless clones. Those will be replaced with startups trying to cash in on more contemporary hype - “alternative energies, social entreprenuerialism, microfinance, developing economies, political action, renewable technologies, and the like.”

Does my startup’s qualify? It not only has the potential to provide limitless energy with very minimal inputs, but will also solve the problem of overcrowded animal shelters.

In a post on his blog, conference organizer Tim O’Reilly heads off any questions about how the Web 2.0 Summit has moved away from Web 2.0.

This might seem like quite a departure for the Web 2.0 Summit, the conference that made its name by celebrating the revolution in the consumer internet caused by the move to the internet as platform, service based business models, and social media. Or is it? After all, I’ve argued all along that the real heart of Web 2.0 is the ability of networked applications to harness collective intelligence.

Nice spin, Tim.

He asks, “what good is collective intelligence if it doesn’t make us smarter?” and argues:

In an era of looming scarcities, economic disruption, and the possibility of catastrophic ecological change, it’s time for us all to wake up, to take our new “superpowers” seriously, and to use them to solve problems that really matter.

Wait a minute. I thought Web 2.0 . I thought Web 2.0 was immune from the greater economy because this time it . And I thought that all of the “” was going to serve as a carbon sink.

Apparently not.

So now it’s time for all of the bourgeois hippies in Silicon Valley who can’t even monetize a social network or a to use their “superpowers” to save the world.

From senior engineers driving leased Audis and BMWs to the billionaire founders driving Priuses and flying in private 747s, Silicon Valley is going to take a break from solving Web 2.0’s monetization challenges to try to solve bigger problems, such as the “energy crisis.”

I won’t be holding my breath.

Frankly, I find that O’Reilly’s post is little more than arrogant blabber that tries to perpetuate the Silicon Valley-is-the-center-of-the-universe attitude that has been an integral part of the distorted Web 2.0 worldview.

The obvious truth is that even the organizers of the Web 2.0 Summit have realized how marginal Web 2.0 is and ostensibly didn’t feel confident that they could find enough fluff for 2008’s Web 2.0 Summit to deliver the type of hype paying attendees deserve to receive.

Note to Tim O’Reilly: next time you decide to cash in with another conference that piggybacks on an overhyped “industry,” give it a generic name so that you save yourself the embarrassment of having to spew a bullshit rationale for a new focus when that “industry” declines.

My suggestion for your next conference: Circle Jerk 2009. The motto: “Everybody gets a turn.”

How social.

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2 Responses to “Web 2.0 Summit Runs Out of Web 2.0 Hype”

  1. Is Web 2.0 One Big Party? : The Drama 2.0 Show on August 1st, 2008 7:32 pm

    […] startups are starting to fold with greater regularity and even Tim O’Reilly apparently can’t find enough Web 2.0 startups to run a Web 2.0-focused Web 2.0 […]

  2. Tim O’Reilly Sees the End of Web 2.0, Tries to Change His Stripes : The Drama 2.0 Show on September 19th, 2008 9:12 am

    […] decided that the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in November was not going to be about Web 2.0, I stated: The obvious truth is that even the organizers of the Web 2.0 Summit have realized how marginal Web […]

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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.