Web 2.0 Changes Everything. No Really

Posted on March 19, 2008 by Tony Uphoff

Hype, hope or hyperbole? Revolution, evolution or a simple change? A technology, a platform or a cultural movement? Web 2.0 has everyone talking. Last week we had a global leadership meeting for our parent company United Business Media, held in the heart of the Silicon Valley. We had presentations and sessions with business and technology leaders ranging from John Chambers CEO of Cisco and John Donahoe CEO of eBay to the consultants and authors Don Tapscott, Rod Beckstrom, Annie McKee and Tim Ferris. The insights from these leaders and my colleagues from around the world, provided a powerful benchmark for where we are with Web 2.0.

For those of us who sit at the nexus between technology and media we've gotten used to the "next big thing". As John Chambers reminded our group last week, market transitions create market opportunities. They also create market turbulence however.

True market transitions are revolutions. In any revolution new leaders will emerge and existing leaders will die. The conundrum is that for every real market transition we've also seen a ton of false starts. This has spawned the hype cycle. The connected reality is that in markets as vibrant, dynamic and valuable as technology and media inevitably false prophets emerge, predicting the future to their advantage. In the spirit of the Web 2.0 ethos let me be transparent here and acknowledge that we are the co-owners and producers of the leading conferences, Web 2.0 Expo and Web 2.0 Summit. Does this give us a unique viewpoint to speak to these issues? Or we part of the hype machine? I'd argue the former but I'll leave that for others to determine. Here's our take on Web 2.0 though.

Web 2.0 is the emergence of the web as the global computational platform. Tapscott in his book Wikinomics, takes this thesis and provides a profound and inspiring look at the impact web 2.0 apps are having on economics, culture and business. Every market transition is led by the introduction or emergence of a new platform. These platforms provide a foundation, system and organizational structure to allow new technologies and businesses to scale. Think of these as languages or as currencies. Historically when a new language or currency emerged as a platform, cultures and societies expanded.

From a media perspective Web 2.0 is delivering on the disruption and new opportunities that were hinted at in the first wave of the internet. Time shifting and place shifting have totally and irrevocably disrupted the music, television and movie industries. This is only the beginning. We are witnessing the final shift from an analog to digital media industry. Web 2.0 now provides the platforms to accelerate this shift.

So, hype or hope? I'll admit at times I can get a bit over caffeinated about market transitions. We essentially help technology pro's and the rest of the ecosystem harness these transitions to business advantage. What hit me last week though was that from hard nosed business leaders like John Chambers to ex-Bain consultant turned electronic global market leader John Donahoe, to town criers like Don Tapscott, Rod Beckstrom and Annie McKee, Web 2.0 is far more than an over-hyped concept. It is changing everything. Really.

Quick unrelated note-silly rabbit segues are for kids-This month the 2008/2009 Formula One season launched with the first race in Australia. This weekend the race is in Malaysia. Even if you're not into racing or frankly even into spectator sports, you should check Formula One out. It is a technology, sport and globalization mashup the likes of which you've never seen.,

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