Web2Ireland – almost Mainstream

Been reading the various posts by bloggers on the recent Web2Ireland event organised by Enterprise Ireland.

(Photo of Marc Canter Speaking , by Dermod)

Prize for one of the better (and concise) definitions of Web 2.0 goes to Kevin Sherry of Enterprise Ireland:

Web 2.0 is the Second Wave of Internet Business Activity.

Having said that , my view is Web 2.0 is almost , but not quite , going mainstream (in Ireland at least). Judging by the people I met (more below) and the dress standards I would judge the audience as 1/3rd Business-VC (suit and tie) 1/3rd Techie (Jeans and T-Shirt) and 1/3rd Professional Technologist (Suit but no tie). This contrasts with the last Web 2.0 event , where the audience was almost exclusively techie, despite dual business and technology marketing.

You can judge for yourself from the agenda at the Web2Ireland site, but my only gripe is that I’m not sure if Enterprise Ireland got the balance right. Aside from Marc Canter (who managed to successfuly quote Joyce in a techie presentation!) the main speakers – Judy Gibbons from Accel and Jeff Clavier (Software Only) – were either VC or Angel investors. That’s not to say that they didn’t have a lot of good, interesting and relevant things to say (more below), it just meant that you had to bear in mind their angle on things (we want to lend you money). Given the success of all the people mentioned  this paragraph, I think they are well worth listening to. Adam Green , who despite being on a blogging break, hosted a very good lunchtime session (summary: ‘everything is XML’).

The key things I learned from the above speakers were (these are paraphrased , so excuse me if the quotes get lost in translation):

  • Web 1.0 is dialup , Web 2.0 is broadband.
  • Web 2.0 is part of a virteous circle, where each technology builds on the expectations – e.g. consumers now expect to find information online , so more information becomes available.
  • Web 2.0 is still incomplete , so need to navigate around what is possible and what is not. (e.g Netflix , started with posting out DVD’s , but will stream video as that becomes widespread).
  • Content is not scalable, but user generated content is.
  • ‘The customer is only one click away from never using you again.’
  • A valid business model is (still) seeing what has worked well in the US, then implementing it in Europe before the Americans can.
  • Only exit strategy is to be bought – forget about IPO’s.
  • Innovation comes from small companies.
  • Make your website / service addictive.
  • Leverage the power of community.
  • Enterprise Web 2.0 is not there yet , but it will be.

This last point is of particular interest, given that the stuff that FirstPartners build is increasingly Web 2.0 techniques and technologies applied to the problems of the Enterprise. That’s probably worth another , separate blog post.

There a lot of good people that I met on the day, but a lot of people that I either missed, or didn’t have enough time to complete our conversations. By way of an apology , I’ll use the power of WordPress to trackback to them. Their blogs are well worth reading for further information / angles on the event.

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Web 2.0 Meets the Government

Web 2.0 Meets the Government …. or so this seminar from the Irish Computer Society will explain at the ‘Bringing E-Government to the Citizen’ conference. It’s is good to get the Web 2.0 word out but I feel that the tag is losing it’s meaning, and getting lost in the normal commercial sales process (while I understand the need of companies to sell, I think that making the Web 2.0 term equivalent to ‘washes whiter than white’ hurts everybody, including the companies making the pitches.

Example: one of the other speakers will explain how ‘How Ireland.com has succeeded in the Irish online newspaper market’. Excuse me? Can Deirdre Veldon from Ireland.com and Bill O’Brien (from Microsoft, talking about Web 2.). actually be sharing the same platform?

Hint for Bill: Point out that user generated content is the core of Web 2.0 , and how bloggers won’t link to walled pay sites (like Ireland.com / Irish Times). You’ve done well in the Web 1.0 world and I wish you luck Deirdre reinventing yourself now that things have moved on. 

A good starting point: This weeks survey by the Economist Magazine on New Media.

The 2nd most useful Java-Oracle tool this year

The 2nd most useful Java-Oracle Tool that I’ve used this year is schema spy.

How often have you taken over a project without any documenation? Even worse , there is a database involved, and everybody just ‘knows’ (or pretends to know) where things are. What if all the orginal developers are gone and nobody is left to explain things? I can find my way around most legacy Java code , but databases leave me cold.

Still not convinced – take a look on the Schema Spy website. The level of information that this tool gives you takes you from knowing nothing about the database to knowing almost everything.

Interested in trying it out? Follow these simple steps
– Download it from http://schemaspy.sourceforge.net/
– Change the configuration to point to your database
– Install the Graphviz component (available here)
– Run the tool and await your fully documented database.

Just to shame the commercial competition , as well as Oracle , Schema Spy supports  DB2, hsqldb    ,    Microsoft SQL Server,     MySQL, PostgreSQL and Sybase. It’s written by John Currier and is well worth a donation.

In case you’re wondering, the most useful Java-Oracle tool for 2006 is Oracle’s project raptor. Schema spy runs it a very close second. Considering that it’s a Billion dollar company Vs one man , I’d chalk that up as a victory for the little guy!

Finding Good Ruby People

If you’re non-technical , or less technical than you used to be , it can be daunting sorting the good people from the bad (and believe me , I’ve met some of the bad ones).

This is doubly difficult for new languages like Ruby , where you might not have the expertise in house to sort out the most obvious blaggers. Java used to have this problem 5 years ago when it went mainstream , but there’s enough half-decent Java people in most companies to flag when something seems wrong with a CV / interviewee.

If you are looking for Ruby people (maybe attracted by it’s ability to do make the routine things easy , or by it being the lingua franca of Web 2.0) , then this article on O’Reilly maybe a good place to start.

What's Paul Reading? Find out on Bloglines

If you’re suffering from the ‘too many blogs to read’ syndrome , the perhaps you should sign up for Bloglines. It allows you to gather all the blogs (and other web site feeds) into one place to browse at your leisure. All the blogs I read on a regular basis are listed here.

Some technical Irish Bloggers / Bloggers based in Ireland that I’d especially recommend are:

This list was compiled by the very scientific method of using the last 5  blogs I read today. See the full list here.