The Content 2.0 event in London this week was great fun. Most of the focus revolved around user-generated content and 'modern marketing'.  The day was kicked off by Marc Canter's energetic preaching on a wide range of topics including Structured Blogging and microformats.

"Content used to be King.

Now its the razor blade of the Long Tail."

It clearly took a lot out of Marc. Later on he was snoozing off some jet lag...

What was amazing is how he still seemed tuned in while kipping. A keyword would be uttered by a speaker and he'd manage to spring in to action countering or supporting a point he must have heard in a dream. What skill!

The next session included Hugh Macleod and James Cherkoff discussing how companies need to wake up to the power of blogs (ahead of the conference James had this article published on the BBC site). Microsoft came up as an example a couple of times and Robert Scoble's leading edge work in this area. Nike also came up - James was sharing his exasperation with the company in how they were so close to getting it in an online soccer project (Joga.com) that allows users to select their world cup soccer team (cool) as long as they where sponsored by Nike (totally uncool). Failing to acknowledge the 'competition' exists and allowing users to select those players not sponsored by Nike, James argued Nike had failed at the last hurdle. Later sessions that involved Shel Israel who also dived deeper into this area under the topic of brand trust and credibility.

After lunch Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo took the stage to talk about the social media side of the Web 2.0 revolution. I really enjoyed this presentation. He's managed to encapsulate a lot of the work Yahoo has done in this space in a few slides.

As you can see, the RSA is an unusual setting, but a great venue (like the Tardis, you'd never guess it was so large on the inside by looking from the outside). He showed off Flickr and another little app I hadn't heard of - a keyword guessing game (ESP Game) that open Bradley's eyes around potential of user-generated content. He also talked through this diagram that was discussed on the blogosphere when he first published it in February (he took great pains to explain that this is not representational of hard data, but more of an observation about how social media operates).

Content Production Pyramid

 

In the afternoon I was on the 'Search and Enjoy - the Power of Search & Recommendation panel with Matthew Ogle of LastFM and Surunga Chandratillake of Blinx TV, two UK companies doing some very cool stuff in the area of collaborative filtering as content recommendation systems.

I was invited to discuss Attention and My Data. The word Attention (with a capital 'A') had been mentioned a number of times during the day and I took the opportunity to define the concept as I understood it. The My Data notion combined the Attention Data idea with topic of customer data ownership and its portability. I asked both Matthew and Surunga if they were thinking along these lines and they both confirmed that they absolutely were.

Matthew explained how they are planning how LastFM users will be able to export their playlist and associated metadata away with them (which tracks they listen to, how long, times of day, frequency etc) and plug them into other services if that what users want to do. I loved that.

Surunga said he also support this 'my data' approach in the context of Pico but pointed out some of the privacy issues associated with allowing this level of flexibility.

He also made a great point re: the wishlist analogy I've used as attention data. I had talked through the scenario where a user could take their wishlist from Amazon and plug into another booksite, such as Barnes and Noble online to get pricing on those books and recommendations based on the wishlist. Surunga suggested that we should be able to use that same wishlist in any service that was capable of recommendation - the point being that the books you read would be a great pointer to the kind of video, podcasts, blogs and audio content that my be of interest to you.

I really enjoyed the session, starting off my piece by explaining that I was at the conference under false pretences - I wasn't there to pitch Microsoft products of MSN Search or the new raft of Live services, but that I had been invited to the conference because I had been blogging and talking about Attention and the 'my data' stuff and the organizers liked what I wrote. I later found out from the organizers that Microsoft UK pr team had seemed bemused as too why I had been invited to talk and not one of their senior MSN EMEA VP superstars. The power of blogs indeed...

Later in the evening, the witching hour began...

After a session with two teenagers, the beer, wine and conversation began to flow nicely. Even Hugh was enjoying himself...

And a few more web 2.0 stars showed up. Here's Umair Haque (of Bubble Generation) and James Cherkoff...

Fergus Burns (CEO of Nooked) and Bradley Horowitz...

Then later on we had dinner. Mike Butcher (Mbites) cracked me up with one of his old dotcom bubble insanity stories (he had us literally crying with laughter):

Deirdre Molly, Nick Watts and Zoe Black (of NMK who did a great job in organizing the Content 2.0 event) and Jon Bains (of Lateral) were some of the other great folks I shared dinner with that night.

Full pics here. Back off to Seattle today. Was great trip and a nice break. Btw, Zero 7 were totally amazing in Brighton.

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