written a post bemoaning the lack of innovative Web products these days:Steve Rubel has
"...I miss the days of 2004 when the class that includes Flickr, del.icio.us and others started. They really were about changing the web, not making a quick buck (they did so only because they added value). There are companies still out there like them. Twitter is one I believe takes this approach. Automattic (the company behind Wordpress) appears to be another. Dave Winer also shares this spirt. He creates services like NYTimes River because it's fun and he thinks it will add value to our lives (and he is right).
However, most of the rest of today's net startups are only after the almighty dollar and while that's capitalism, it saddens me because it has done little but breed hubris."
It'd be easy to agree with Steve on this. Indeed in my wrapup of the recent Web 2.0 Summit, I said it was 'steady as she goes' and lacking in innovative startups. Other than the semantic apps that presented at the Summit, there was little evidence of disruptive technologies. It was still a well-organized and enjoyable conference, but the cutting edge was absent.
And from a web product perspective, 2007 hasn't seen a lot of innovative startups in comparison to 2004-06. Twitter, which Steve mentioned, is one - albeit it is still extremely niche and no mainstream people I know use it.
But even considering the Web 2.0 Summit and 2007 so far, I'm inclined to disagree with Steve that the Web is being over-run by "the almighty dollar". There is innovation happening - and enjoyment. The Mobile 2.0 Conference I attended recently in San Francisco showed me there's a lot of innovative technology happening in the Mobile Web space. The shift to the Web of many big companies is also exciting (as is the experimentation with desktop technologies by online organizations). Partnerships are happening between web 2.0 startups and big tech companies. Social networks are showing signs of truly opening up (although slowly). Semantic apps are set to go mainstream. Utility computing is coming in a big way. Alternative search engines are nipping at Google's heels. There are opportunities for entrepreneurs in Attention, Intention and VRM businesses. Use of the Web for environmental and non-profit purposes is at an all-time high.
I could go on and on, but my point is that the Web is still changing - despite the seeming lack of new innovative startups (maybe we as bloggers just aren't uncovering enough of them?) and the 'steady as she goes' Web conferences. So I do push back on Steve's post in that respect. There's a lot of change happening on the Web; actually that is what Read/WriteWeb is all about, documenting and covering that change.
But tell us what you think, in the poll below. Are we, collectively as startups, organizations and media, still changing the Web? Also, please use the comments below to list startups or initiatives that you think are changing the Web.
Image: Brouhaha (Jonathan)