November 6, 2008

Web 2.0 Summit Day 1

Dr. Larry Brilliant

I’ve been attending the Web 2.0 Summit regularly since it began a few years ago because technology conferences like Web 2.0, TechCrunch 50 and a handful of others are where you’ll get the first glimpse of where the tech revolution is taking media, business, culture and even politics.

That was on display Wednesday at the opening of the three-day conference. John Battelle, standing alongside co-host Tim O’Reilly, recalled planning the conference last December and making a gamble that this would be a time of monumental change. "We wanted a place where the Web would engage with the world," Battelle said. O’Reilly added that the tech press had misconstrued Web 2.0 by applying the term to every me-too startup. "They weren’t paying attention. We were talking about the network as platform, understanding how that gave us new potential. Do you really think we’re done yet?"

Not even close.

I can’t provide a blow-by-blow of all three days at the Summit (you have the blogosphere for that), but here are a few highlights:

Day 1

• See my Day 1 Flickr gallery (including the legendary Dr. Larry Brilliant of Google.org, above) and others’ photos.

• I can’t get a handle on how many people are here — 1,500? — but it has sold out yet again, with ticket prices at about $3,700 apiece. (Disclosure: I got in on a press pass.)

• For some highlights of Larry Lessig’s talk, see my Twitter stream (or, better yet, subscribe).

Most interesting startup: To my mind, the most interesting startup I spotted today was a company I was willing to write off 30 seconds into their presentation. During Guy Kawasaki’s morning session, Garry Tan, co-founder of a company called Posterous, showed off a brain dead-simple blogging solution. Go to your email client, type the title of your post in the Subject line and include text or a link in the body, then send it off. (No registration necessary. "We tell you not to sign up.")

What’s so impressive? If you add a YouTube url, it finds the video (no embed code needed) and turns it into a video post on your blog. If you’re uploading from your cell phone, it transcodes the video into Flash and creates a nice movie with the Flash player built into your blog post. If you upload a zip file of images, it creates an instant photo gallery, all nicely sized, with thumbnails and navigation between each of them as part of your blog post.

Wow. That’s bringing rich media blog posting to the masses. 

Slideshare.net, a site that lets you easily share slide shows online (which I’ll be using soon), now gets 9 million uniques a month, says a company exec.

• Quote of the Day from venture capitalist John Doerr: "I would staple a green card to the degree of every foreign student with an engineering science degree." Which got a nice round of applause.

• Word is that Silicon Valley has "gone green" but VCs (including Doerr’s firm) have invested only $3.5 million in green tech, Doerr said.

• What’s the second largest expense for Google? Operating all those servers. Said Doerr: "Did you know that computers around the world have generated as many greenhouse gases as airplanes?"

• An apt history lesson from Doerr, reminding us: "The private sector did not create the Internet." A government Defense agency, DARPA, did.

• What is Yahoo, anyway? Battelle asked co-founder Jerry Yang. "It has become incredibly to me: Yahoo is a consumer brand," Yang replied. Yang also acknowledged that Google pulled out of the Google-Yahoo advertising deal which fell apart Monday.

• Larry Lessig gave one of his hallmark presentations about his newest reform effort, Change Congress.

• On tap Thursday: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. On Friday: Al Gore.

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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