Perhaps, it’s time India discovered itself, its abiding values with what I would call Web 2.i – a web that works for the individual Indian in a deeper sense
Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin is organised by O'Reilly Media and TechWeb, two US based companies that spawned a series of events in San Francisco, New York and Tokyo. Founder Tim O'Reilly, credited with coining the term Web 2.0, runs this show, which is now on in Berlin with more than 1,000 delegates from around the world.
I walked out of the buzzing, cocktail sipping crowd at the end of the first day of Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin last evening to find that Monday’s brilliant sunshine had been replaced by a nagging drizzle. As the song goes, “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey”, but there is something good about this sombre mood.
Twelve startups with an equal number of international coaches (VCs) to guide them. Great tips on what makes/ unmakes a pitch – am not spelling them out for free. And a true workshop. I get to brainstorm with Sofatutor.com – simple user produced videos as an idea, great future, but very, very replicable. And amazingly short on the killer app.
Indian start-ups still have a head start if they get the right platform, which is why Tim O’Reilly’s expo must be brought to India. And also why Sir Sorrell and his merry band should consider pro bono work for startups by advising them on packaging their pitches in return for cheap equity. Advertising agencies were – and presumably are – best at pitches, so there could be a new source of business here.
And that brings me to the keynote address by the man himself. Not an inaugural session, but at the end of a long day. And did he cut to the chase!
At a time when the real world is scrambling to combat financial, climatic and political mayhem, is the virtual world living in an ivory tower obsession of valuations and funding and quick bucks?
It’s always been something that worried me as more and more websites in India clamber onto the social networking platform (go check Amazee.com) or entertainment or content (try Plista.com) or aggregated videos (In.com folks ain’t seen Idesktop.tv or Floobs.com, have they?)
The number of startups riding on Google’s coat-tails is growing and if someone puts a number to the ancillary value Google’s created, what would it come to?
You think Twitter is great – try Aka-aki.com and find friends near you with your mobile. Even Nokia, which is hardselling maps in India, is exhibiting an application called Sportstracker, which converges many things and goads you into maintaining your fitness regimen!
O’Reilly actually went beyond. With Yossi Vardi, the man The Economist called “a social technologist”. The Jew who spotted ICQ first and, more recently, Fring. O’Reilly went on and on about why Web 2.0 needs to go beyond crass commercial gains and superficial stuff to make a real difference and to create more value than these startups can capture.
You’ll see his passion soon enough on YouTube, but trust me, he isn’t being altruistic. Like all good entrepreneurs, Shri O’Reilly knows which way the wind is blowing and is sailing with it.
Time he discovered India.
And, perhaps, it’s time India also discovered itself, its abiding values, with what I would call Web 2.i. A web that works for the individual Indian in a deeper sense.
Auf wiedersehen. For now.
(Mohit Hira is a former advertising and digital media explorer. Now netvangelist at large.)