I was at the Sun Mashup Event this afternoon. It was a semi-formal discussion/debate between Tim Bray, Director of Web Technologies at Sun and Michael Arrington of Techcrunch. The topics included Web 2.0 and venture capital mainly.
There were some interesting thoughts and debate around Web 2.0 definition, is web 2.0 a new concept that did not exist earlier and phrase ‘user generated content’ (Tim said he is niether a “user” nor generating “content”).
Both Tim and Mike agreed that it was difficult to define Web 2.0. Mike felt, in 2005 he did notice that the web had changed from the way it used to be pre-bubble burst. However, Tim beleives technology wise all web 2.0 concepts existed earlier.
Here is my 2 bits to the above topics:
1. In a pub-sub paradigm Web 1.0 was only ‘subscribe to web’ (read only). Web 2.0 is both publish and subscribe (read-write). I know its little too techy way of explaining :).
2. Markup languages and HTTP are much older than the Web 1.0 boom (1998 onwards), similar is the case with Web 2.0 concepts (2005 onwards). Technology comes to mainstream notice only after adoption by a critical mass. So Web 2.0 is old from a technology standpoint but new from adoption standpoint.
3. ‘user generated content’ in its minimal definition is your ‘picture’ or ‘video’ or ‘blog’ (base content). The popularity (diggs?), related items (tags) and the interaction between people with similar interests (comments) around the base content adds equal value or more to the base content. This as a whole in my opionion is the ‘user generated content’ not just the base content.
My final thougths on Sun organizing this type of event and benefit to them:
I understand Sun wants startups to use their hardware and software. I doubt it benefits Sun in any ways if small startups (small user base, pre-VC) use their hardware and software. They are either trying to buy loyalty or they are trying to lock-in.
Argument for loyalty – Sun hardware and software works like a charm so I would go with Sun as I scale up (turning out to be the next YouTube or Flickr). Argument for lock-in is “Oh damn!” I have built my software on Sun and now I am stuck, I have to continue to invest in Sun.
I hope Sun is counting on “loyalty” (hard to find these days). Because, lock-in is even harder. Most startups re-write their software when they start to scale-up. It is quite unlikely they can afford to write it the right way first time around.