Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Web 2.0, Web Two Point No, and BlogWorld Expo

I am heading off to the BlogWorld Expo this week; if you're going to be there, let me know. It looks like a good conference and set of vendors, so it should be the center of the world of blogging for a few days.

It's interesting, though, to note that while blogs have become absolutely mainstream, some companies don't get it. Have a look at Mary Schmidt's tale of complaining to American Airlines and mentioning that she'd blogged about her bad experience with them, and how they replied:
We have received your email, however, because of company online security procedures, we do not engage in researching online blogs. However, your perspective has been noted. Ms. Schmidt, thank you for your interest.
Because of security reasons, we can't look at a web site? Oh, okay. That was followed by the ultimate "Please drop dead, you annoying customer, you" closer:
This is an “outgoing only” email address. If you ‘reply’ to this message by simply selecting the reply button, we will not receive your additional comments.
The whole tone is "Look, we really don't want to hear your stupid complaints." It's hard to imagine why airlines like American are in trouble these days, isn't it?

How behind the curve is American Airlines? They still haven't figured out blogging and social media, and others are already getting over it. One of the biggest cheerleaders of all things Web 2.0, Steve Rubel, suddenly announced that he's realized that all these companies doing pointless things in overly complicated ways with no prospects of ever making money are kind of silly:
Let's face it, we're skunk drunk and it's because of money. It's almost like we all need to enter Betty Ford Clinic 2.0 together. This time, it's not stock market money but private equity, M&A, VCs and to some degree the reckless abandonment of logic by some advertisers who are perpetuating what is sure to end badly when the economy turns. Hubris is back my friends.
I don't disagree with Steve, but he's been one of the biggest cheerleaders of everything silly on the web. (And he admits that in the blog post: I give him a lot of credit for that.) He's not alone in this assessment; apparently the money guys at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have figured it out, too:
"We have absolutely no interest in funding Web 2.0 companies," says Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins. He mentioned this during an after dinner conversation last week. He said he had recently told John Battelle, one of the organizers of the rapidly growing Web 2.0 Summit conference, that the term no longer had the same positive cachet it once had. In the VC community it clearly has a negative one.
But lest this be seen as sudden sanity onset, consider this commentary from Tom Foremski in that same blog post:
Web 2.0 companies will now have to reinvent and redefine themselves. And reprint their business plans. They should also remove any mention of "long tail economics." I have a bad feeling about the longevity of that term in the investment community. It sounds a touch too W2.

Nixing anything "long tail" is an easy way to future-proof a business plan for a few months longer.

"Social graph" is doing great right now, so make sure you pepper your business plan with that term. "Social platform" still has legs. And "attention economy" is a ricochet term with a bullet.
That passage makes my head hurt, mostly because he's right. But it leaves me wondering what ever happened to ideas having some relevance beyond buzzwords. The idea of Web 2.0 has not gone away. The long tail concept is an interesting and valid one, but the term became trendy and started being applied to all kinds of things that weren't particularly "long tail," and now it's pretty much just something to set off our BS detectors. The same is true of all the various social media buzzwords.

There are valid concepts behind all of this, and people will figure out how to make businesses based on them. Of course, for each of those businesses, there will be 99 hopefuls with half baked ideas vomiting out a stream of buzzwords in a sort of dadaist Word Salad 2.0.

Interesting times, anyway. Meanwhile, off to Las Vegas.

1 comment:

Mark Cahill said...

Great post - I've been thinking much along the same lines for a while. The discussion have an all to familiar ring.

I blogged on your post here... http://variocreative.com/blog/?p=391