Expo as ecology – Web 2.0 experienced
September 15th, 2008

For the next 4 days Javits Center in New York City will be mobbed by people attending the Web 2.0 Expo. Since I will be there as a blogger, I have been looking at the program in advance. As I have looked several times at the subject matter tracks of the show I have been puzzled. They are something of a jumble: landscape & strategy, design & user experience, development, media & marketing, finance, performance & scaling. The these tracks are all over the place. What is their umbrella theme?

Today in reading Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization, a new book by Clay Shirky who is a lead advisor to the expo, I came across this observation (pp. 67-68) that is pertinent:

Because social effects lag behind technological ones by decades, real revolutions don’t involve an orderly transition from point A to point B. Rather, they go through a long period of chaos and only then reach B. In that chaotic period, the old systems get broken long before the new ones become stable.

The tracks of the Expo jump around from design to development, from money to scaling. A review of the keynote subjects and smaller sessions reveals even less hierarchy and/or order. Of course not! We are not returning to the umbrella world, we are entering the era of network dynamics that we are calling Web 2.0. There are two reasons why the tracks and their contents are small subjects that interrelate:

1. We are smack in the middle of the chaotic period.
2. What is emerging at the expo is not the world structured by the geographical limits of the past. Instead, at the expo we can begin experience the interrelationships of the many parts of the tracks into the ecology of our connected future.

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