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I had the opportunity to attend the WebbyConnect Summit on October 3-5 at Laguna Beach. It was a series of non-technical panel discussions on the various growing trends on the Web, and their social and cultural impacts, especially with respect to the media and internet industries. Topics discussed include:
It was a very insightful event, as the various very notable speakers presented their thoughts on how media and social trends are impacting the evolution of the Web, and vice versa.
It was very refreshing to hear from the thought leaders in the social Web and media and advertising agency spaces. Particularly many campaigns that worked wildly successfully, by leveraging many social elements of Web 2.0. For example, “Trevor” as world's intern where anyone can schedule Trevor's time and ask him to do things (like sending a heavy metal birthday gram), effectively used a combination of user-generated content, viral advertising, live web feeds, instant messaging, video streaming, community establishment in Facebook and Myspace, etc., that drew an extremely popular response on the Web. The campaigns discussed were just about the most effective use of Web 2.0 platforms I've seen.
To me it boils down to brand management, and the emergence of using Web-oriented techniques to drive a new breed of brand campaigns on the Web. However, a few principles remain the same (lessons for a technologist such as myself, but obvious to people working in these areas):
On the general trend of convergence:
This was my biggest takeaway from the summit, as it was clear that the pendulum has swung back away from the extremes, in many different areas. As noted earlier, online and off-line, traditional media and online media, collective intelligence and expert editorial, etc. Basically people are no longer claiming the absolute dominance of one extreme over the other, but are seeing trends that hybrid and combinatorial models work much more effectively. In the technology world, the focus is now shifting towards bringing information and access to the users in a seamless and consistent manner, but with targeted user experiences for different platforms.
Coming back closer to home, from a technology architecture perspective, I found all these trends of convergence are very analogous to the core of Microsoft's "Software Plus Services" (S+S) strategy (and moniker). I akin S+S to Microsoft's vision of the future, in response to all the recent innovation and mindshare on SOA, Web 2.0, SaaS, etc. I will leave the details of my thoughts on S+S to another post, but just briefly here - it's an architecture of "AND", where both local software and cloud-based services work together to provide the most targeted user experiences. Vinton Cerf noted a similar thought in his keynote, that the internet is still largely a transport that is agnostic of the context and data that traverses it. We still need software to interpret and visualize the information in meaningful ways. And the fact is, the dominant players in the online space, such as Google, Yahoo, eBay, Saleforce.com, etc., are all moving towards this middle by providing client-side software. It seems their current approach can be categorized as "Services Plus Software" where cloud-based services are augmented by client-side software, compared to Microsoft's approach of "Software Plus Services" where client-side software is augmented by "Web as features". It is arguable which approach (or direction) is more relevant, but I think in general the macro-trend that is occurring is that of convergence between software and services.
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