Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nice party... who are you?

Well, my hat's off to Fast Forward for an outstanding conference. I don't know anything about Fast itself but then enterprise search isn't my cup of tea. I have however met some very interesting people and discovered new ideas on web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 concepts.

One of the big topics today was about disruptive impacts. I immediately got into an argument with Tom Foremski who writes the site Silicon Valley Watcher just to prove how disruptive I can be. Tom is a really fascinating guy, a professional journalist who has set himself up as an independent. He is one of those sources of information which the democracy of the web may choose to trust and allow to become the canonical news source in his area. It's a bold thing to do - I salute him.

I also met Steve Whittaker, who is a visiting scientist at MIT. According to Steve the fragmentation of producers (i.e. as consumers become producers rather than just consumers) creates an uncertain future. Maybe the vested interests hold out, maybe the system collapses under the noise and only maybe do P2P reputation and curators resolve the problem. He also points to Lessig's argument that such systems need a balance between law, the market, social norms and architecture and hence the uncontrolled fragmentation of the media market may impact social norms.

An example which comes to mind is Second Life and the copybot incident. Here the community adopted rules to impose certain social norms of behaviours to prevent mass copying.

I was fortunate to also meet and debate with Susan Feldman of the IDC who gives some real insights into the entire search market and the digital economy, and Jenny Ambrozek who has been developing online virtual communities.

Finally I have to mention Greg Dearing who is not only one bright guy but also works on providing the Fast Foward blog.

Overall, this has been a great conference. However, I still feel like the guy who has come along to the party and then asks the host "who are you?"