Is Web 2.0 One Big Party?

Posted on August 1, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

I’ve always been amused by the seemingly perpetual schedule of Web 2.0 “parties” that take place.

From the to the (or more appropriately mashes), Web 2.0 knows how to get its party on, even if the parties are heavy on . To be fair, nobody promised good parties.

Perhaps the preponderance of parties in the small world of Web 2.0 isn’t all that unexpected. After all, these are the “social” media people we’re talking about here.

And socialize they do.

To be sure, other “industries” have no shortage of parties.

The profit-driven porn industry revels in debauchery at Internext. The television, music, modeling and media businesses always offer a seemingly unlimited number of party options in cities like Los Angeles and New York. The sports industry is always good for a party or two before and after a major sporting event. And bonus time on Wall Street has been a very good time for overworked analysts, associates, vice presidents and managing directors to let loose (although I suspect I will be crashing fewer Cristal-filled parties in New York City this December but that’s okay since Cristal is overrated and overpriced anyway).

My amusement at the Web 2.0 “party scene” arises not because people in other industries don’t indulge, but because out of all the industries that are known to party it up, Web 2.0 seems to have very little to party about.

Profits are , most stock options are and venture capitalists have realized that this time, there aren’t a whole lot of .

Hyped startups are starting to 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 Summit.

At least in 1999, there was some reason to party - if you worked at an Internet startup your stock options were more likely to have been in-the-money and liquid and there were far more people in the “real world” buying in to your insanity.

After Bubble 1.0’s party came to an abrupt halt, the hangover was painful. But a painful hangover is a bit more tolerable when the liquor was good and you really had something to party for (no matter how delusional).

Of course, there are some differences between Bubble 1.0 and Bubble 2.0 when it comes to parties.

In Bubble 1.0, people were celebrating the very tangible illusion of success. In Bubble 2.0, people aren’t really celebrating much of anything. It’s all quite nebulous - party-goers seem to have the sense that something big is happening with this Web 2.0 “stuff” but in reality, the parties are filled with more with wannabe entrepreneurs, Web 2.0 hipsters and self-declared “thought leaders” than they are with people who really have something worthwhile to celebrate about.

Additionally, today’s parties are often thrown by entities like TechCrunch and Mashable, which in many ways look more like event companies than they do “new media” companies.

Sponsors plunk down hefty sums to sponsor events in hopes that their sponsorship will expose them to early-adopter party-goers and party-goers plunk down less-hefty sums in hopes that there will be decent liquor available at the open bar (when one’s available, ).

And in the end, Web 2.0 doesn’t really provide any of them a reason to celebrate - it provides an excuse for people in a dead-end industry to socialize and drink.

I find it somewhat ironic that while few profits have been found in social networks and other Web 2.0 services, providing a “social network” in the form of a party just might be Web 2.0’s most viable business model.

Unfortunately for investors who have invested billions in the companies that sponsor these events and that employ the party-goers, this business of throwing parties isn’t going to provide a reason to pop open magnums of 1996 Dom Pérignon Rosé.

I suppose they’ll have to settle for table wine in a plastic cup.

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One Response to “Is Web 2.0 One Big Party?”

  1. Tim O’Reilly Sees the End of Web 2.0, Tries to Change His Stripes : The Drama 2.0 Show on September 19th, 2008 5:37 pm

    […] people in Web 2.0 clearly aren’t in it for anything more than an awkward social experience (and party), it all makes […]

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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.