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Preliminary thoughts from Web 2.0 Summit

Sameer Vasta's picture

I've been here in San Francisco for the past few days, and when I haven't been stuffing my face with burritos and Blue Bottle coffee, I've been spending time at the Web 2.0 Summit.

I'll jot down some more coherent and cohesive thoughts about the Summit during my red-eye back to DC later tonight, but for now, I wanted to share a few presentations, issues, and ideas that have jumped out at me during the session so far.

Delivering experiences. Brian Roberts of Comcast spoke about why they've invested so much in content and customer service as well as infrastructure: they're "in business to deliver experiences." Comcast's heavy use of social networks for customer service is just one way they're enhancing the experience for their consumers. A question: how do we in development "deliver experiences" for our stakeholders?

The app economy. Mark Pincus from Zynga had a great presentation where he spoke about how we've moved from a link economy to a search economy, and are now moving towards an app economy, where the social breadcrumb is the primary tool to promote content. He also spoke about ways that social games can be used for social good. A question: can international development be enhanced by using gaming and leveraging these social breadcrumbs?

Information networks. Evan Williams of Twitter was adamant: "Twitter is not a social network, but an information network." He stressed that different tools provide different features to target different audiences — and are used by different people in different ways. One way he sees Twitter being used is to provide front-line information and service to consumers (a bit like @WorldBankNews?). A question: what other "social" networks can be leveraged as information networks to provide better access to development knowledge?

Complete openness. Jeff Immelt of GE echoed concepts we hear every day, but it was nice to see a leader of a global company say it: "complete openness with constituents," along with complete transparency and the ability to take in stakeholder feedback and criticism, is key to any organization these days. A question: what are we doing, as international organizations, to stay relevant through openness and transparency?

Outside voices. Dan Rosensweig from Guitar Hero hinted at something that we've been thinking about recently: people don't want to simply access good content, but want to contribute to that content. A question: how are we in the development sector allowing people to contribute to our development knowledge, and how are we letting the people affected by our work contribute to our results narratives?

Mobile. Lots of things going on in the mobile sphere. In fact, instead of writing anything here, I'll have an entire post on mobile up later next week.

Here are a few links that were mentioned at the Summit that piqued my interest:

Expect more coherent thoughts in the next few days. In the meantime, check out some of the presentations from the Summit on the live stream or on the news and coverage page.


Submitted by Nicole on
Thanks for the write up and questions around the application to development. I like the idea of people contributing content in the development context. Just where do we do that? I've been a fan of social change games but haven't seen them take hold past the trending part. I do like what WFP has been doing through video/youtube. Safe travels.

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