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Things I Learned at the Web 2.0 Summit

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After a weekend to reflect, I’ve come up with the Top 10 Things I Learned at the Web 2.0 Summit that was put on by O’Reilly and hosted by John Battelle.

1. Google likes it fast.
While the results and point of her talk wasn’t surprising, Marissa Mayer did an efficient 10 minute talk with great examples proving that the speed of a web application is one of the most important things to users, and it often has a very direct correlation to traffic and revenue.

2. Everybody is chasing Google.
Essentially every interview and session I attended featured a question along the lines of “How can you/we beat/compete with Google?”. Again, not really groundbreaking, but when you see numerous CEOs and powerful people at all the major web companies trying to answer that question without really having a great answer, it makes it all too clear that nobody knows yet how to deal with the 800-lb gorilla.

3. Jeff Bezos is on to something.
Amazon’s recent move into web services has befuddled analysts on Wall St., but after listening to the energetic Bezos talk about their new initiatives on this area you can see that it is a good opportunity for Amazon, and won they intend on dominating at. I like the move.

4. Advertising is being thrown on it’s head.
The Advertising 2.0 session, as well as other sessions and talks helped show that advertising online is far from being set in stone. Ideas are still coming from everywhere, and many large players are still not yet embracing some of the new and better ideas. Video advertising is a big opportunity that’s being attacked from many different angles, and nobody knows what the right one is yet.

5. There aren’t as many innovative startups as I thought, at least not there.
After hearing that there were over 250 companies that applied to be part of the Launchpad 13 where startups got to launch themselves with a 5-minute presentation, and after seeing who the panel of judges were, I thought we were in for an exciting set of companies. I was underwhelmed, and a bit bored by the presentations. One-quarter of them seemed useless, one-quarter of them didn’t seem very innovative, one-quarter were actually interesting and promising, and I’d read/used about one-quarter of them long ago (how is that a launch?).

6. It feels like a bubble.
It was a really nice venue, very crowded, the parties were pretty lavish, and it seemed like a lot of people were walking around hoping to get bought by the big few in the industry. Just had a bubble vibe.

7. You can hack a conference.
Recently-launched Mashery hacked the conference by booking a conference room for a party right in the middle of the action. It was cheaper than sponsoring the event, and may have gotten them more attention.

8. Basic problems still need fixing.
About 40% of talks and sessions seemed to have problems with the wireless connection, computers screwing up or crashing, or power not working. And the conference wireless connections were hit and miss all week. It’s ironic we’re all trying to build these new revolutionary web applications, when we still suffer from such basic infrastructure problems.

9. Talking to random people you don’t know is still socially awkward.
I’ve been to many business conferences, I feel confident about myself and my employer, and I feel I’m a social person. Yet, there’s still something very socially awkward having conversations with people at these events. They’re either trying to sell me something, I’m trying to sell them something, or you’re both generally not interested but still are in a situation where a conversation needs to exist. Sure, every once in a while a common ground is formed and a real conversation ensues, but it’s still pretty strange.

10. Eric Schmidt talks through an API.
Read the link for more details, but it was fascinating listening to Schmidt talk intelligently, dance around tough questions, and jab his competitors without explicitly doing so. Very well done.

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Pat is the Director of Business Development at Right Media, the business unit owner for RMX Direct, and the author of the Conversion Rater blog.

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