This week: Grokking Yahoo! My Web 2.0, What is Where 2.0, Entrepreneurs start your engines, RSS VC fund fever, Techie Post of the Week - Attention.
Thoughts on Yahoo! My Web 2.0
Yahoo's unveiling of a "social search engine" called My Web 2.0 got almost as much tech blogger coverage as Microsoft's RSS announcements last week. Yahoo! My Web 2.0 is basically a search engine / bookmark service which enables you to find relevant content via your social network. It's been variously described as "a little cluster of "domain experts" you trust" to "an eBay for Knowledge". I rounded up some other reactions in this post.
- you can import your existing bookmarks from your blog or bookmark services such as del.icio.us (the leading social bookmarking service). All it takes to do this is to enter the URL of your del.icio.us feed (or an XML file that holds the data) and Yahoo automatically imports it - including all your tags! So it seems that Yahoo! My Web 2.0 is potentially a del.icio.us-killer, which must be a concern for the folks who created del.icio.us or invested in it. Some people think the two services are distinct enough to co-exist... I'm not so sure. Time will tell whether it's worth my while entering bookmarks into two places.
- Yahoo! My Web 2.0 is also a decent practical demonstration of what Attention means in this evolving Web 2.0 world. It provides a trail of what I've been focusing my attention on (if I choose to make that public) - and likewise I can access the attention trails of people in my social network.
I'll write more about Yahoo's social search engine in a later post.
What in the world is Where 2.0?
You'd be forgiven for thinking the Where 2.0 conference was just about maps and stuff, because Google, Yahoo and Microsoft mapping initiatives have been everywhere lately (pun intended). Indeed if you cast your roving eye over the Where 2.0 homepage, you'll notice the content doesn't stray far from the topic of mapping. Or "geospatial Web technologies" as those in the know call it.
If we zoom out and take a high-level view of the terrain, we can see that "where" technologies will be key enablers for Web applications over the next 5-10 years.
Tim O'Reilly in his Where 2.0 keynote put it into the context of Web 2.0:
"Where 2.0 is the subsystem to the Web 2.0 operating system…Web 2.0 will be built from a network of cooperating data services."
Ross Mayfield followed up by writing that, on the Web, 1995-2000 was about the "what" and 2000-2005 about the "who". A little over-simplistic, but it leads to this concise insight:
"From 2005 to 2010 we will be trying to comprehend the Where. Every new mobile device will transmit coordinates, every location device will be sensor aware."
Entrepreneurs eye opportunities
It's a great time to be an entrepreneur, according to Joe Kraus of JotSpot and Excite.com fame. His post aptly summarizes the excitement of the Web in its current era - post-bubble cautiousness mixed with enthusiasm for Web 2.0 opportunities. Joe's central thesis is that it's never been cheaper to be an entrepreneur, which means an easier path to profitability and higher VC valuations. I particularly liked his third point:
"Startups today have unprecedented access to global labor markets. [...] we have access to a world-wide talent pool of experts on a temporary or permanent basis."
Yes, including talented Analyst/Researchers and Spec Writers from New Zealand ;-)
Investors eye RSS Funds
Of course when money starts to get thrown around, everybody gets giddy. News of a potential $100 million RSS fund had all the pundits rubbing their sweaty palms together in glee. I thought Paul Kedrosky's post was a good reality check. As he rightly pointed out:
"While there are oodles of Web 2.0 opportunities, they are predicated on solving real problem, not on transport protocols."
But having said that, it's clear that with Microsoft now betting on RSS as a kind of Longhorn saviour - there will be plenty of RSS opportunities for businesses and investors alike. For example, I've got a keen eye on Charlie Wood's new venture. So it's fine to be a little cautious, but it's also OK to get a little giddy :-)
Techie Post of the Week
Nick Bradbury wrote a call-to-action post, triggered by Microsoft's RSS adoption, entitled Microsoft, RSS and Attention:
"This isn't about Microsoft or any one company. I fully expect Gmail to add RSS aggregation, enabling Google to better understand what you're paying attention to so they can provide a more useful personalized search. Same goes for Yahoo and everyone else getting into the RSS business. See, I believe we've won the RSS battle and the next battle is for attention, and we should let everyone who hopes to gain from our attention data know that we want it back."
I second that motion - it's vital that all Web 2.0 companies, but particularly the bigco's, let us own our data. Which in practical terms means making it easy for us to export our data from an app if we want to. Going back to the social bookmarking example, del.icio.us lets people export their data. Earlier today I asked the question of Yahoo on the My Web 2.0 messageboard - currently waiting for an answer. I'm not joking when I say it could determine which of those services I end up using.
That's a wrap for another week!