Web Innovations 2007: A Few Impressions

Here are few images/impressions I am left with after two days of this conference.

  • Marc Canter is a cool dude. He delivered what he promised before his talk – educate and entertain
  • Some sound advice from lots of people – Don’t build yet another Social Network
  • All great sessions had one similarity – people who run their businesses sharing what they did, how they did and why they did it. This is invaluable. You can not get this in any book
  • All the vendor presentations were yawn inspiring and uniformly boring. I think they missed a great chance by just doing product demos or pitches.
  • There were some cool dudes among the delegates. I could only meet a few since the structure of the event was more towards broadcast mode lecture format.
  • The little stories – a couple of developers from Kerala, two guys from Sudan, a girl who moved from VA, USA to Bangalore. These were the coolest part of the conference.
  • There were a couple of sessions where the entertainment value far exceeded information value. But that was alright for a change.
  • The tech content of the conference was stale with a few exceptions. Web 2.0 is more than 2 years old. Most of the stuff talked about is some thing that most people know. The title said Web 2.0 and beyond. The beyond part was definitely missing.
  • I think every one is searching for a relevant social network for India. This is where many opportunities exist.

Overall, I think unconferences are way cooler than regular conferences. I may be a bit biased here. I don’t mind regular conferences as long as:

  • The sponsors don’t spend all the time on product pitches and demos
  • Speakers stop talking 2/3rd of the way and take questions for the rest of the time
  • There are plenty of BOFs or similar informal, spontaneous interactions
  • There is enough time, space for networking

I hope the organizers incorporate some of these elements in future conferences. On the positive side, the organizers do recognize it and tried to arrange an experimental session. Overall I felt that the cool people I met, a few good talks and Marc, more than made up for the deficiencies.