The second round of keynotes yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo focused mainly on transparency, both in business and in government.
The first to take the stage was Douglas Rushkoff, the author of “Get Back in the Box”. His perspective was both radical and refreshing. He said, “It’s not distraction from core competency to be transparent, transparency forces you to be competent.” According to him, companies with core activity and competency in their industries find it easier to be transparent.
He gave the example of the outgoing Gap CEO who said when he joined the company that “I’ve never worked a day in the garment company.” He asked a thought provoking question, which was – How did management and business become generic? He also narrated how creation of corporations prevented free market competition and hindered creation of value. He supported his assertion with related instances in history where the first companies were chartered monopolies by the government, like the East India Company.
He said that Web 2.0 has ushered in a new era that allows people to create value from the peripheries again where central bank and VC lending were not needed unless you’re setting up a ponzi scheme. Laughter and applause broke out, when Rushkoff said the banks fell for their own ponzi scheme.
He ended by saying that using the traditional currency model in the digital world with abundance of value is not sustainable. It’s up to the net industry to create value with the purpose of making a living rather than to cash out.
Anssi Vanjoki from Nokia followed this fiesty presentation with some bold predictions of his own. According to Vanjoki, by 2015, we will have wireless network connecting us 24×7 globally. His second prediction was that everything will be based on context because it’s awareness that separates us from other creatures.
He repeated multiple times during his talk that there was an emerging trend of marrying reality with virtual world and added that this new behavior required a new device. According to him, this a “mobile computer” that would replace all current phones. This device will have hundreds of gigabytes of memory and allow users to store and leave your own traces on coordinates.
Nokia has invested a lot in the location services and recently bought a digital map maker, Navteq because it’s their belief that everything on this planet can be described with coordinates. He ended his speech by giving a glimpse at phone of the future, which looked like a watch and ended by saying – “We (Nokia) will bring the net to everyone, everywhere.
“Tim O’Reilly sat down to talk to Ellen Miller from the Sunlight Foundation who is working on getting more transparency in the government. She said that the foundation is not interested in digitizing the information just for academic use but put it into hands of the citizens – feedback loop aka accountability. Here are the Open Government Data Principles that that they have put together: Data should be Complete, Primary, Timely accessible, machine processable, non-discriminatory, nonproprietary and license-free. Miller said, “For data to be useful, it must be consumable.” She also mentioned that databases are already created, which show who’s lobbying for whom and where the campaigns are coming from.
She alluded to an ongoing contest between Republicans and Democrats on who is more transparent. Ellen said that the house and executive branch are not open to being transparent, but they don‘t have a choice, as she so eloquently put it, “Transparency will be done to them (government).” She went on to say that government needs to be held accountable and that it’s not non-profits like Sunlight who should be responsible but rather it’s the government’s responsibility to provide transparency.
Kevin Lynch, Adobe Systems Incorporated followed up with a short but effective demo on the Adobe Flash Catalyst, which is still in beta. This is a professional design tool that automatically generates the Flex code for any static composition created using Adobe’s other design tools like Photoshop or Illustrator. This allows the designer to deliver a finished application to the developer for additional functionality without losing any of its original fidelity.
Last but not the least, John Battelle, Federated Media sat down with Will Wright, from Electronic Arts for a discussion on the online gaming business. Will mentioned that EA is focusing on getting more transparency in the gaming business especially when it comes to data that‘s being shared online. When asked about the Wii, he said he liked it and that it highlighted a trend in non-immersive gaming. Immersive is when the gamer is so absorbed in the game and tunes out everything going on around him/her. However, games like Wii make the environment part of the game and he sees the trend continuing with virtual worlds meeting reality.