As I wandered around the exhibition floor at the 2008 Web 2.0 Expo today, I was struck by the sheer number of online software tools that are available. Think of the most random activity, and there is likely a Web service to support that activity. Collaboration, aggregation, project management, stamp collecting, grocery list facilitator... on and on and on. Also, as I sat through today's sessions, it became apparent that some of these people don't know what they're talking about. And I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. In fact, most of them will admit that they don't know.
Often a Web site will become incredibly popular, making its creator very wealthy, for no obvious reason. The success is not really quantifiable and there is no formula for repeating that success. Basically, the developers threw something against a wall, it stuck and they were asked to speak to an audience of other developers about their process.
Again, I am not disparaging the Web 2.0 Expo, as there are some phenomenal sessions and speakers. It's simply the nature of the Internet that there's a scant amount of rhyme and reason to online marketing.
Clay Shirky spoke about the prevalence of Web garbage during the keynote session this morning, and he offered the grim thought that there might not be an end to the flood of data. He supported this with a quote from Yitzhak Rabin: "If you have the same problem for a long time, maybe it's not a problem. Maybe it's a fact."
Shirky also remarked that the Internet has allowed everyone to be a publisher because of the low cost, no cost capabilities. As there is no longer an economic "crap" filter, the onus to sort through the junk is placed on the user.
Further, Tim O'Reilly, who coined the term "Web 2.0" (much to my chagrin), pointed out that the best and brightest minds in the world are being used to create goofy Facebook and iPhone applications. So it isn't likely that the river of online trash will run dry anytime soon.
When I have a solution to this problem, I'll let you know. In the meantime, check out this post from ReadWriteWeb that outlines "6 Ways to Filter Your RSS Feeds." When it comes to clearing the clutter, it's a step in the right direction.
Chrome Nearly Blows Chunks: A Google developer presented the company's new Chrome browser this morning. He apologized at the beginning, mentioning that he was ill and might have to "run off the stage." Way to relax an audience, dude. Also, if you're going to present a browser that only runs on Windows, you might want to think about bringing a Windows machine. Still, he made it through the presentation without losing his breakfast. Huzzah!
Surface Without Depth: Microsoft showed off its new Surface tabletop display in the Web 2.0 Expo Hall, and I wasn't very excited. The device offers a multi-touch, multi-user interface that lets users drag items around in a very tactile way. Here are some videos that show off some of the Surface's recent commercial launches.
Yes, it's cool, and it's certainly time to explore interactivity beyond the mouse and keyboard. But the consumer version of the Surface isn't set for release until 2011. By then, surely something much more innovative - and affordable - will be available.