Posted on September 19, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |
When Tim O’Reilly 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 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.
I noted that O’Reilly’s blog post explaining the Web 2.0-free Web 2.0 Summit essentially stated “the people involved with Web 2.0 have rediscovered the real world” and that “Web 2.0 is old news and the ’smart stupid money’ has moved on.”
Looks like I was right.
At O’Reilly’s keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York (just how many of these fucking conferences are needed?), O’Reilly stated:
(These are) pretty depressing times in a lot of ways. And you have to conclude, if you look at the focus of a lot of what you call ‘Web 2.0,’ the relentless focus on advertising-based consumer models, lightweight applications, we may be living in somewhat of a bubble, and I’m not talking about an investment bubble. (It’s) a reality bubble. [Emphasis mine]
You think, Tim?
“And what are the best and the brightest working on?” he asked while showing slides of popular Facebook applications. “Do you see a problem here? You have to ask yourself, are we working on the right things?”
I, of course, have been asking these questions all along.
What’s curious to me is that O’Reilly seems to be trying to change his stripes despite the fact that he’s been one of the primary promulgators of the Web 2.0 hype. If the people within the Web 2.0 “community” had one iota of street smarts, O’Reilly’s revisionist history wouldn’t fly.
After all, in October of last year, O’Reilly stated in a press release:
At O’Reilly we’ve been monitoring the Web 2.0 movement since 2004, and Facebook Platform is one of the most innovative and exciting technologies to emerge in the past three years. Social networking platforms, and applications based on the social graph, are at the core of what’s driving today’s internet startups and their people-powered web services. [Emphasis mine]
I guess now that the writing is on the wall, O’Reilly has no choice but to rewrite history and pretend that he didn’t know about SuperPoke and the rest of the useless Facebook applications that have always represented the vast majority of popular Facebook applications.
This all begs the question - just what good are “thought leaders” like O’Reilly when they’re so fucking wrong so much of the time?
I’ve been calling bullshit on the whole thing for years. I don’t put on conferences. I don’t sell reports. I don’t hang out in Silicon Valley. I don’t even have a college degree.
Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve simply spent too much time honing my bullshit detector through real-world experience.
While it’s great to see that Tim O’Reilly has recovered from his kool aid-induced stupor, I can’t help but argue that his reputation as a “thought leader” is about as credible as Larry Ellison’s reputation as a “decent guy” at this point.
The real question, of course, is whether participants in the circle jerk known as Web 2.0 will ever stop to think about what O’Reilly said.
Frankly, I suspect not. After all, as soon as O’Reilly got done giving his keynote, it was time for ADHD-ridden conference attendees to hit the after-parties and catch flights to some other Web 2.0 conference.
When you consider that most of the people in Web 2.0 clearly aren’t in it for anything more than an awkward social experience (and party), it all makes sense.
That is all okay, though, as far as I’m concerned. When Tim O’Reilly asked “And what are the best and the brightest working on?” and suggested that Web 2.0 was distracting those who are capable of doing greater things, I don’t think he ever considered the possibility that the “best and brightest” were never working on Web 2.0 in the first place.
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