Haven’t been keeping up on feedreading due to this cold for the past few days. I’m still kind of out of it, but I finally went to see the doctor and the prescription meds seem to be knocking it back a couple of notches.
I see that Riya (née Ojos) is about to start their public alpha trials. Mike Arrington got an early look today. Looking forward to trying it out.
During the past few days of semi-coherent downtime, I was having something like the following thought, which Russell Beatty articulated in a post this evening:
All these startups in my feeds lately are killing me! There are tons of them, but none seem to be doing anything particularly special. I mean, it’s nice that there’s a sort of rebirth of small startups, but there’s absolutely no sort of wow factor that I’ve seen. And no, this isn’t an anti-Web 2.0 style backlash: I really believe in the idea of the web as a platform. Amazon and eBay’s web services are perfect examples of platforms which have created huge value for both companies, as well as the developers using their APIs. That’s not the problem. It’s all these Flickr-wannabes, flip-it-quick companies that are bugging me.
He goes on with a quick taxonomy of web2.0 startups:
- Scrape Engines
- Mashed Ups
- Web Trapps
- Social Anything
- Phile Sharing
- User Generated Dis-Content
- RSS Holes
It just seems that no one is trying to change the world any more. No one is aiming to create “insanely great” products or do the impossible. Why not? Why are so many people grasping at the low-hanging fruit, when there’s so much more goodness for everyone if they just stretched a little higher?
A lot of people are wrestling with the question of where’s all this “web2.0″ stuff going to take us. Many of the past barriers to entry have dropped, with free software, nearly free hardware, inexpensive and widely connected networks, and lower cost labor than ever before. As a predictable consequence, a lot more ideas are getting tried out. Unlike before, we now have tools and infrastructure that allow what would have been just paper concepts or slideware be turned out as functioning web sites on the internet.
We presently have a wonderful but frenzied universe of new-this-mashed-with-that-meets-flickr. Trying to think about it during this cold has been making me dizzy, but I had visualized something like an old science movie illustrating the Cambrian Explosion, in which life suddenly went from fairly simple cell-based organisms to a diverse assortment of fascinating, squiggly, twitching, wiggling, multi-colored creatures, bumping into each other, gobbling each other up, and most of which subsequently disappeared.
Obviously, not everything worked out. But:
Aside from a few enigmatic forms that may or may not represent animals, all modern animal phyla except bryozoa appear to have representatives in the Cambrian, and most except sponges seem to have originated just after or just before the start of the period. Many extinct phyla and odd animals that have unclear relationships to other animals also appear in the Cambrian. The apparent “sudden” appearance of very diverse faunas over a period of no more than a few tens of millions of years is referred to as the “Cambrian Explosion”.
OK, so we’ll have a few winners left standing after the next crash.
The economics for many of the web 2.0 startups is driven by companies like Google, Yahoo, and Amazon. The existence, success, and low entry requirements for pay-per-click advertisement and affiliate sales has shaped their implicit revenue plans, while the cheap-or-free access to and straightforward implementation of the web service APIs has shaped their technology and investment (or spending) plans. They also provide the possibility that “if you build it, we will buy you”.
So, any number of things could bring an abrupt end to our web2.0 “Cambrian Age”. Here are some random possibilities:
- Paid search gets screwed up by click fraud, spamblogs, or other, thus removing money from the system
- XML patent guys make some headway, thus making lawyers central to the system
- Avian flu crosses over to humans and puts a dent in the globally mobile elements of society
For a quick view of the landscape for web2.0 startups, go check out Paul Kedrosky’s presentation slides from the Vancouver Enterprise Conference, titled “Get Your Head Out of the F*cking Tag Cloud”
- The cost of customer acquisitions is falling
- The cost of infrastructure is falling
- The cost of people is falling
- The cost of company creation is falling
- The cost of venture capital is falling
Web 2.0 is the democratization of technology entrepreneurship.
I like the taxonomy and evolution slide near the end. Wish I could remember what movie the “explosion of life” clip was from. Probably one of those old Bell System science movies. (I saw Hemo the Magnificent the other day.)
Now I’m off for another round of meds…
The Home Pages of this New Era
At least it’s not Avian Flu (yet)