Web 2.0 Summary

I don’t want to leave the impression that my recent rant on the Voice as Platform session reflects the entire Web 2.0 conference. Overall, it was a good conference. A lot has been said around the net, so I will offer a few highlights below, my perspective only, of course.

O’Reilly showed an interesting idea called SafariU that lets teachers assemble a custom text-book from sections of available books. The price is based on page count and books are printed on demand.

JotSpot was unveiled. It’s a cool twist on the wiki idea. It mostly just removes wiki markup and adds a web-based GUI UI instead, but it has some other unique features too. It’s worth a look.

Larry Lessig gave a really fun (and scary) talk on Free Culture, closing to a standing ovation. There is an MP3 of it at the following link and I recommend it highly: Download the MP3 (MP3 via Jason Calacanis).

Peter Norvig demo’d an upcoming feature from Google that tries to identify related words and links to them. The idea is if you put in e.g. SIP, it would show links to related words and identify synonyms, such as Session Initiaation Protocol, VoIP, Voice over IP etc. He demo’d entering George Bush and finding links to related words, like “idiot”.

Microsoft showed skyserver which is sort like terraserver but for astronomy.

The folks from Craigslist were inspiring. I loved their story of success through “unbranding, demonetizing, and uncompeting.”

One of the most interesting things had almost nothing to to with web services, or didn’t seem to at least. Bill Gurley talked about Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Pretty amazing stuff. Some of these games are essentially SnowCrash-like metaverses. They are huge in Korea and China. People have created economies in these virtual worlds, where they create virtual assets and sell them for real money (auction them on Ebay and such). People are making a living in the real-world based on the ‘business’ they create in the virtual worlds. One example is a player built an airport and sells flights to take people places in the game world. People have created classrooms that happen in the virtual world. They design clothes, create an entire clothing store, etc. Crazy stuff I had no idea was going on.