Author: Chris Preimesberger
In between sessions, I overheard a number of people saying this was the best IT business conference they’d attended in 2004. “It’s all meat, no fluff,” was a common description. Everybody on the program had already shown leadership and success in some aspect of the new media world, had something valuable to contribute, and seemed to be in a good mood. This was a fitting start to the “second generation” of the World Wide Web, now 10 years old.
The program, a virtual Who’s Who of Internet commerce, included Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Mark Cuban (HDNet), Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com), venture capitalist John Doerr, Mitch Kapor (Open Source Applications Foundation), Marc Andreessen (Netscape, Opsware), IT stock analyst Mary Meeker, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, CNET Networks and Grand Central founder Halsey Minor, Yahoo’s Yang and COO Dan Rosensweig, and a list of others.
Most conferences are launching pads for new products. Web 2.0 served that purpose but also was the introduction point for some new companies, such as Sxip Network (see note and pronunciation below) and SpikeSource, which provides enterprise support services for open source software. Joe Kraus, one of the four founders of Excite, introduced his new startup, JotSpot, which calls itself “the first application-wiki company.”
Here are some bullet points of useful information from the conference.
In fact, Andreessen — who knows a little bit about browsers — was asked that very question Wednesday in a conversation with Rosensweig and program host John Battelle. “I don’t know if it would be their core competencies to go into the browser wars,” he said, “but they certainly could if they wanted to. They have the muscle. Browser innovation as we know it pretty much ended in 1998. One of the most amazing things over the last six or seven years is watching Microsoft basically get a monopoly over the browser with IE and then not use it. I can’t figure that one out,” Andreessen said.
|Host John Battelle, Marc Andreessen, and Dan Rosensweig share a laugh at Web 2.0. Photo: Derrick Story|
“There is a new opportunity for alternative products, and that’s why Mozilla and Opera are looking good now,” he said. “But Microsoft is certainly going to respond competitively to these things, I can guarantee that. I think it is going to get very interesting in this space over the next two or three years.”
Norvig demonstrated a clustering project called Named Entities Abstraction, in which Google researchers analyze the huge Web index and extract individual entities, such as the name of a sports team or company, from content and then decipher their relationship to each another. Researchers look for ways to break down sentences by identifying a phrase like “such as” and grabbing the names that follow it. The idea is to not only to identify the name but also its multiple meanings, so that a name such as “Java” can be associated both with coffee and with the computer language, Norvig said.