Tim O’Reilly is the elder statesman of the web—it was he who came up with the moniker “Web 2.0” a few years ago. Despite being sick, and despite becoming a grandfather only a few hours before, he fronted up at the Web 2.0 conference to inspire the audience with his vision of the power of less.
It’s an interesting and dichotomous situation when a person stands in front of an audience, begging them to do stuff that matters and to add value to the world and then to hear those words somehow used as rationale for the latest video sharing service, or the latest short messaging service, or the latest social networking platform. It seems that Silicon Valley’s measure of “what matters” is subtly (or not so) different from the that of the rest of the world.
O’Reilly asked people to create more value than you capture but to give this value back to the world. He contrasted that with the financial system where collective intelligence went awry—it was hijacked by the scammers and the schemers to build value, but only for a select elite.
Contrasting that is the knowledge that by working together, by figuring how what we build can be an enabler to create, to invent and to make Value. We need Moore’s Law to Apply to the World’s Greatest Problems.
Of course the only problem with O’Reilly’s pleas is that they occurred at an event that has attracted attendees who seem intent (at least in part) on ensuring the continuation of the hyper consumptive status quo that has led the world into the start inequities it currently faces. I spent an hour or so down on the expo floor today, and was surprised by just how many consumer video sharing services the world actually needs.
So I came away at the end of today believing that O’Reilly was completely correct, but it’ll take a calamity, financial or otherwise, to force the world to make the changes it needs to in order to ensure a greater level of equality.