I'm continually fascinated by the way connections are made in this new world of web 2.0 and social media. When I walked in to the OpenCoffee Club on Thursday a woman I'd not met before instantly recognized me and came over to talk. Being a guy, sadly my knee jerk (jerk being the operative word here) hormonal reaction was that my luck had changed. Actually, she was only saying hi, introducing herself and telling me that Dennis Howlett was looking for me. I'd had an e-mail dialogue with Amanda Lorenzani a few months back when Excite were re-launching in the UK. Not 3 hours after OpenCoffee I was involved in a Google Group exchange with the Social Media Collective. Julia French was talking about the Girls in Technology initiative over in Silicon Valley. I offered to hook Julia up with Sarah Blow and the London Girl Geeks. In the same exchange, my friend Emanuele Quintarelli offered to introduce Julia to Amanda Lorenzani, who organises the Italian chapter of Girl Geek Dinners - didn't know she did that. Follow this link to brush up on your Italian. That made me find her blog on Excite, and see that she had posted a couple items about Internet World.
If you look at the word "web" in the dictionary or thesaurus, you'll mostly come up with things like mesh, complexity, and labyrinth that relate back to it being the spider's trap. Instead of being a web, or maze with dead ends and blind alleys, the new Internet is all about opening new doors, shedding light and networking.
Amanda's posts reminded me I was going to write about Internet World 2007. I could only visit for a couple of hours, and I have very mixed, mostly negative feelings about the event. There haven't been many posts, or much reported yet. It was useful for me to talk to a number of CMS providers, because I have a multi-lingual website to redevelop and I wanted to check out the options. Most of the stands seemed to be all to do with enterprise content management, CMS, e-mail marketing and the like. There was a specific area for Web 2.0 companies, but apart from Linkedin, I didn't see very much of use there at all. This would be a reasonable show for marketing people in mid sized companies or corporates who want to enhance their web presence and e-marketing, but I feel like I'd seen it all before.
In contrast, I was disappointed I didn't have more time to listen to the Keynote presentations. Most of them looked like they had good and useful content, but I only got to see Loic Le Meur's pitch on the Future of Blogging and Social Media. Loic had about 120 slides for his 30 minute presentation. Rather than using the Guy Kawasaki 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint (or whatever he was using on his Mac Book), he was following Dick Hardt's style of presenting, clicking through words and images, sometimes one for each word in a sentence. It's the first time he's used this style. It was pretty good, but he'll get better at it.
Loic talked about the major trends in the blogging and social networking world. He talked about the explosion of connections you can make with your blog, YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us, World of Warcraft, and Second Life accounts. You can end up with too many friends, and it becomes difficult to manage. He speculated about the astronomical rise of Twitter. Maybe that's becoming popular because it's one of the ways you can connect more intimately to just a small group of your closest friends. All of these tools help you have a much more comprehensive relationship with your close friends, who can check out what you are thinking, what you are reading, what you are saying, the music you are listening to and what photographs you took today. He also talked about Twitter in terms of micro blogging - our time is so compressed, maybe more people can get in to blogging when it's only a "one liner" to tell what they are thinking or doing. He talked about the changing face of broadcast media and TV. I agree with him when he says TV sucks, because it isn't searchable, but there are things happening with the likes of Veotag or Viddler which will help change that. He talked about the new tools that make it easy for us to stop watching and start creating for ourselves. Then he got in to the ways that the web and social media are affecting our culture. The new tools mean it is much easier for me to be my own boss, and my own marketing department. They break down the traditional hierarchies in companies, organizations and countries. The world becomes a more borderless place when I can easily connect and work with people all over the world. He got a bit idealistic when he talked about being a citizen of the world, and how this is helping move us slowly towards race being unimportant. I hope he's right about that. Then he moved in to the way many of these new web 2.0 tools are free, and the way content is user generated and shared.
I went on to have a good discussion over coffee with Loic, Sam Sethi, Dennis Howlett, Geoff Smith Jones and one of his friends - Sally. So the show was a mixed bag, but great for making more connections.
Update: Geoff dropped by and highlighted I'd got his name wrong - doh! Fixed!
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