I never actually made it to the Web 2.0 conference in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. I’d headed over because web 2.0 does fundamentally change how people communicate, so it’s a very interesting area to me.
Yet I got to Berlin and was drawn into some meetings, meals (and a long bike ride in the rain) that kept me busy and interested. This proves, once again, that the value of conferences is so often the simple fact that they get people out of their routine and into the same place for a bit *.
And besides … I’d read all I needed to read about web 2.0 for the week in the Financial Times Digital Business section on the plane over … a very smart column (free reg. required) by David Bowen of consultancy Bowen Craggs & Co.
Bowen addresses one specific subject — the deployment (or relative lack thereof) of web 2.0 tools in large companies. Yet his descriptions of the technologies that make up web 2.0 are interesting beyond the scope of his column. Bowen says that many managers in large companies are loath to deploy “web 2.0” because they don’t actually get it—and therefore are more afraid of it than they ought to be.
From the column:
“Stop talking about Web 2.0. Extract the useful concepts, classify them in a way non-technical managers understand, and explain how they can be exploited, managed and controlled.
The individual concepts are indeed powerful. Blogs can spread good news or bad at the speed of a working Large Hadron Collider. Wikipedia is a brilliantly useful idea that is absolutely terrifying for any reputation-conscious organisation. YouTube has been a star of the US presidential race. Facebook makes us all into little web publishers.”
* Both the very famous Demo and David Hornik’s The Lobby conferences were founded and even named in a nod to this fact. Demo, because Stewart Alsop noticed that most really hot stuff was happening in the halls of tech conferences with people “demoing” new products to one another. Lobby, because Hornik noticed that most great conversations were happening in, well, the lobby of conferences.