Home Tim O’Reilly: Tackle Big, Hard Problems With Web 2.0

Tim O’Reilly: Tackle Big, Hard Problems With Web 2.0

The ReadWriteWeb team is at the Web 2.0 Expo. Tim O’Reilly opens the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes with a discussion on the opportunities in web 2.0 today. Here are some real-time notes on his session. His main message is to “not follow the headlines” and the hot consumer apps, but go after “big, hard problems”.

Big Opportunities:

1) web 2.0 in enterprise; “turning themselves inside out”

2) web 2.0 evolving into cloud computing

3) ambient computing (mobile phones and ubiquitous sensors)

1) enterprise

e.g. dell ideastorm

real time user facing services based on data from customers — your bank doesn’t give u this, but google does

finding meaning in that data

google pagerank = meaning hidden in links (link is a vote)

other areas where “there is hidden meaning in enterprise data”

wesabe — how people spend their money is a vote (nb: Tim noted he is an investor)

eg merchant pages give people collective intelligence about spending

2) cloud computing

Amazon got ahead of the curve by doing internet as OS; an ecosystem developing around Amazon’s infrastructure. Google has got into the game with Google App Engine. Startups like EngineYard also interesting players.

Openness is key – programmable web

3) mobile / ambient

software above the level of a single device. So mobile does not equal the phone. He talks about Microsoft Live Mesh, noting that it is currently only Windows – but he’s waiting to hear from Microsoft on its future.

new interaction paradigms – eg CNN’s political coverage using mapping technologies

Megaphone in New Orleans

The Dash, turns cellphone into GPS

Microsoft Clearflow – sensors everywhere, puts in a “dispatch layer”, aims to improve traffic reports

Quake-Catcher Network – uses motion sensors in your laptop

This all = Ambient computing; “web 2.0 not something we interact with on a laptop, it is all around us.”


So are we done yet? NO.

Tim lists some examples of big goals that web 2.0 can still achieve:

Changing government structure




Tracking illegal deforestation using Google Earth

Earth Day

An Inconvenient Truth

wattzon.org (how we use our energy)

To conclude, Tim urges us to “not follow the headlines” and the hot things, but go after “big, hard problems”.

Tim finishes with a poem that is important to him, called ‘The Man Watching’ by Rainer Maria Rilke [thanks Sean for the link]. Very nice touch! His main message is to tackle big hard problems, with web 2.0. Make a difference.

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