Web 2.0 Keynote from Tim O'Reilly, Clay Shirkey, and others

These are notes from O'Reilly's talk.  Clay Shirkey's talk was very interesting (about privacy) but I only did the first half as it was hard to sum up in words and he didn't have a thesis per se.  Mostly, what he was saying is that we don't yet have good filtering paradigms for the type of information that has become, and is becoming, available nowadays.

Tim O'Reilly: Web meets the world: We're moving away from collaboration on the keyboard.

For instance, a college student has setup the dorm washing machines to twitter their availability.  The Quake Catcher Network allows macs to be part of a distributed earthquake sensing mechanism.  Caty London is using Asterisk to allow a hydration sensor in her plants to Twiter her when they're too dry.  Photosynth (Microsoft I believe) allows photos to be made into a melange that allow synthesized images.  Whirl (and brightkite) allows users to  collaborate based on location (from iPhone, etc...).

What makes the phone company different from Google?  They both have massive data centers, data gets better, data from customers.  In a Web 2.0 world, real time user-facing services based on that data - that's not available on the phone network.  Dell has set up 'Ideastorm' to get users.  But they actually are web 2.0 from the start.  Users would request different components and that would impact the purchasing of the company at large.  This is unlike the previous PC companies that pretty much forced a premade model to the user with little user input (except the purchase itself).

For the enterprise, going 2.0 involves letting users into the back office, turning the company inside out.  Let the users influence how the company acts.


Are we living in a bubble?  Not an investment bubble, but a reality bubble?  The 'best and brightest' are working on witty Facebook apps and beer drinking games on iPhone.  In business, 'scenario planning' is a tool used to come up with possible outcomes.  Unfortunately, it's hard to anticipate all the possible scenarios.  In order to do scenario planning, you start with boundary conditions and then come up with strategies that make sense even at either side of the presumption box.

What's important is to create more value than you capture.  This is an ethos at O'Reilly.  Our new Pascal's Wager is that we have to presume that things won't work out.  We need to presume that and strive for better, not just assume that things will be better.

InSTEDD is using collective intelligence to isolate diseases.  Ushahidi is using mobile phones to coordinate disaster response in Africa.  The Berlin Airlift moved 2.3M tons on 277K flights, one landing every 2 1/2 minutes, 24 hours a day for 15 months, planes unloaded by local residents - volunteers -10 tons in 10 minutes.  It developed the modern air traffic control system even.  Benetech is another technology company helping people.  The Omidyar Network funds profit and non-profit companies.  Google.org is now in a partnership with GE on clean energy.  AMEE is trying to make an open source framework for carbon trading.  Click Diagnostics is using cell phones for medical diagnostics for the rural poor.  

Organizations have to have 'big, hairy ideas'.  We must use the web to make a better world.  We must fight greater beings - if we lose, we lose decisively but we are changed.  The allegory relates to Jacob fighting an Angel on his way back to his homeland and his brother Esau.  After that fight, he became Israel and was made anew.

Clay and filtering privacy

Clay is talking about data overload.  Everybody's been talking about it though.  Is it really the same story from the last 15 years?  Is this a surprise?  Isn't information always growing?  Gutenburg, with movable type, injected information abundance.  By the 1500s, the cost of producing a book became low enough that finally, an average citizen could own more books than could be read in a lifetime.  He also introduced the problem of publishing risk.  One had to print before selling and hope that people buy.  The solution is that the publisher had to be choosy about what gets produced.  Since then, publishers had two roles - printing a copy of something AND choosing what to print.  The Internet, for the first time, challenged that by making the cost of production extremely cheap.  Nonetheless, the overload is still a problem.  The past always looks like easy street with less data and the future looks crushingly full of data.  Facebook and other paradigmatic, structural challenges to information mobility, require new forms of filtration that don't yet exist.