TECH TALK: Web 2.0: Conference Highlights (Part 2)

This is what Michael Parekh had to say about the explosion of services:

It’s becoming clearer to many more that the traditional ways that mainstream consumers have used PC software and today’s relatively static Internet services is about to change.

We’re entering the blizzard stage of Web 2.0 companies and services.

One has only to look at the diversity of companies introducing new products and services (good lists here at Buzzmachine) to see that both early adopters geeks like myself and mainstream internet users are about to be seeing a flood of cool things they can be doing to make their lives easier, better, more fun, less stressful, and generally cooler and hipper.

The important thing is that we’re going from a world where we may have half a dozen to a dozen such services that we put up with this from today to literally hundreds, if not thousands over the next few years.

this time we’re going from linear growth to growth curves that are more exponential and combinatorial. The last is key because the increasing “mix and match” interoperability of the various consumer web services. Your Flickr feeds can be used in your blog, your favorite social networks, your instant messaging services etc.

Consider this, in the ten years that we’ve had the wonderful pleasure of using Yahoo!, a little more than 10% of their approximately 400 million global unique users subscribe to the personalization offered by My Yahoo! One wonders how many of those 40 million My Yahoo! users actively change their personalization settings after setting it up for the first time.

The average mainstream user (read your/my mom, non-geek friend or relative) will NOT put up with the complexity of adding/learning/managing and then personalizing all these services.

We’re at the “invent it and see if it sticks” phase of this second cycle of the commercial web, now increasingly infected with “let’s fund it/invest it/and quickly flip it” to the next Big Internet and/or Incumbent company that is hungry to catch up with the Web 2.0 hype and technological realities.

We’re at the “we know it’s just a feature, but maybe we can build a company and business model around it”, stage (again!), and if not, we can always flip it to one of the above-mentioned companies who need these features (aka Point Solutions) for their product and/ service suites.

So, how to go about developing all the Web 2.0 services? Dan Farber wrote about what Jason Fried of 37signals had to say:

Traditional software development is expensive, resource-intensive, and born of a Cold War mentality, Fried said. His advice is to “think about one downing, instead of one upping, and underdoing competitors”beating them with less.
According to Fried, in the era of lightweight apps and simple products you need less money, people, time, abstractions and software.

Fried believes that money mostly buys salaries and you only need three peoplea designer, programmer and utility player, which he calls a “sweeper.” The feature set should be scaled for the headcount. Having less time is also an advantage. “You spend time in unproductive meetings and overanalyzing the product. Less time forces you to spend less time on better things,” Fried said.

He suggested 30 hours per week per person, which “forces you into building better products and being creative with your time.” And, if you have less time, you have less time to think about abstractions, such as functional specification documents, which Fried characterized as a waste of time. “Instead, build the product and start from the user interface customer experience first; then wrap with the technology,” Fried said. “The interface screens are the functional specification.”

Tomorrow: Conference Highlights (continued)


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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.