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       My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there” – Charles Kettering, inventor

This marks the 5th year of the Web 2.0 Expo (3 years of the Expo and 2 years prior under a different name).  I have traditionally found this to be the best palce to meet the best minds in the tech social media industry.  It’s evolution is indicative of its name as when it first started people took notes on pad and paper  feverishly as speakers spoke.  Some brought tape recorders.  But over the past few years I’ve seen more and more laptops with people using voice recognition devices to help.  Laptops were everywhere and it resembled more of a college conference than a business conference.  People often held them like a cup of coffee and  dropped them and kept the nearby Apple store busy with servicing requests. This  year was  a little different as more people are now holding up their iPhones and Blackberrys and taping the speeches and then with a click of a button sending those clips to Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace instead of posting to their blogs and taking notes.

To be honest, the show was a little lacking this year and as one friend put it, lots of features with little business.  The question is what is Web 2.0?  Well it has many definitions:  It is the movement from static (non-interactive pages) into more interactive pages.  For many of you that means instead of looking at news page or a single page, it is more about communities and aggregation of information and content that is shareable.

So what does that mean?  It means for example that the newspaper that you used to have delivered to your house is no longer relevant not because it is killing trees but because the news is old by the time you get it.  The news on your newspaper’s website is old too.  For example, let’s say you wanted to see a show.  You used to check the newspapers for a review written by some paid journalist who got free tickets and that review might be old anyway or be written by someone you share little taste with.  You could also get that review on the newspapers website with comments from people who have also seen the show and maybe agreed or disagreed with the reviewer.  But now web 2.0 is different.  You can find a community such as Youtube where people have taped snippets of the show recently with their cell phone and made comment such as “the lead actor was out sick”  and receive the latest updates about casting changes, etc.  Just like this conference, people have already posted photos and comments and I don’t need to wait until tomorrow morning to read about it from some journalist who was not able to watch concurrent sessions.

Now back to my friend’s comment.  One of the wonderful things about Web 2.0 in the past was meeting the innovative companies such as Facebook, Google, MySpace, Twitter, etc.  Hearing from all of these companies which were aggregating communities of shareable content.  Well, that was seriously lacking.  All you found this week were those big named companies which were trying to show you that they had infrastructure and platforms to help you with that content.  What is exciting about that?    The irony is that the company that was most talked about and most utilized, TWITTER, was only 5 blocks away and nowhere to be seen represented at the conference.  Granted, they only have 30 people in their company and their business was overwhelmed by the people at Web2.0 who were sharing videos, photos, and “tweets” in large volumes.

So people of my generation and older always say, “Hey, what’s with the Twitter?  Why should I do it?”  I’m not here to try and sell anyone on Twitter, but my response is usually that if you are texting, using Facebook, Myspace, an iPhone, a Blackberry (or other smart phone), or have toyed with starting a blog, just get the Twitter account now and “wait for it”.  At the very least, protect your name.  If your name is Joan Smith, got to Twitter.com and sign up so you can save your vanity domain, www.twitter.com/joansmith.  At some point you might start to receive some “tweets” and become interested enough to find out how to make your “content aggregation” easier. In fact, if you find that I don’t update this blog enough, you can follow me on my tweets and you don’t even need to go to my Twitter to see it.  You can just look over in the right margin of this blog to see my latest Tweets.So now you don’t have to stay up late waiting for me to update you on my life.

My cousin’s kids follow me all the time.  In fact I learn a lot from them.  Of course some of these things I shouldn’t even know.  Seeing your cousins kids in sometimes compromising situations is some of the “bad” about this new social media.  Having to tell your cousin that you think their son or daughter has been doing some underaged drinking and posting it to their website is not my intention but my duty.  Anyway, they follow me to hear about the latest concerts and other news.  In return I get to hear all the new slang.  The latest one was, just 5 minutes ago, “Erik, you are so AO”.  AO?  Yes, that means “Always On”.  Well that is what Web 2.0 is.  It is always on and you can find what you are looking for all the time.

Now you are probably asking….but wait.  Why are you telling me this?  I thought you only wrote about hotel reviews, celebrity sightings and cancer.  Well truth be told is that I do have a job.  The last 10 years or so I’ve honed my skills as an affiliate marketer with traditional products and platforms.  But now Web2.0 and social media have created a new challenge.  Many of these social media businesses such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are trying to show they can make money and have been trying to do it through advertising.  Today the average user of Facebook spends 2.5 hours on it.  Pretty good advertising opportunity, don’t you think?  Well, now I’m working on some cool projects that provide completely relevant advertising content that is embedded and unobtrusive to the user.  Shopping via social media is like hearing about something cool from a friend.  When you talk to your friend, banners aren’t thrown in your face.  They usally tell you about something cool they saw or heard or di and then you follow up on it because it sounds interesting to you.  To me that is what collaborative filtering in social media communities is all about.

So how does a beginner begin to work with Twitter?  Just set up an account first and start playing around with it.  It’s pretty addicting.  I will follow up with another post on some great applications to make your Twitter experience more enjoyable.