Back from the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin

WebTwitcher has been scouting around the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin this week and what a mamouth event it was. Held at the Berlin Messe (read: messy) the sprawling rooms and aircraft hangar like halls seemed to absorb attendees and caused significant confusion.

Level upon level of exhibitors, keynote theatres, press and workshop rooms meant there were many lost souls drifting around. Particularly during lunchtime, where food was - putting it lightly - scarce.

The conference itself was somewhat of a mixed bag of tricks. I particularly enjoyed listening to Kathy Sierra (who I was surprised to see, following her recent online death threats). But I'm glad she made it. A great keynote about creating passionate users, humanising the web and touching users on a personal level. She gave some food for thought about developing tools and services that didn't make users feel alienated or incompetent by reducing guilt and fear of services. Emphasising the importance of user learning, she gave her audience something to chew over when considering how to engage users rather than alienating through services that are difficult to learn.

Tim O'Reilly - the man who coined the phrase "web 2.0" back in 2005 - gave the opening keynote entitled "What people still haven't understood about Web 2.0". He said he has the impression that many people think web 2.0 is the internet crowd's version of the "Summer of Love". Quite right.

Around 1500 people turned up to listen to his predictions for the near future. After naming Google as the first firm to properly make the most of user-generated content, one of the main point he addressed was for the entrepreneurs in the audience. Not such a bright future in store, as he predicted a "consolidation phase" (read: bubble burst?) and an increasingly difficult time for newcomers to the sector as "The big guys are getting bigger all the time".

There was a high level of interest in the Google talks on its recent OpenSocial announcement. PR hype or real value? It certainly looks to be a key area for standardising widget development (eg the extras you've been adding to your Facebook account, like Flixter, iLike etc). Many social networks have already signed up, including MySpace and also corporate social networks like that of Oracle and Salesforce.com.

(Image: From Mr Topf's Flickr stream)

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