Toronto is “the media world’s third coast”

Well I guess we successfully hyped ourselves to video podcaster and Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron when he was here for iSummit, ’cause now he’s spreading the word that Toronto is hot, hot, hot on the web, web, web. I didn’t know about Rocketboom prior to iSummit, and rather enjoy the bite-size video morsels with that NY Indie geek-chic perspective. Check out the April 3rd episode here, or add it to your iTunes. Now all I need is one of those rumoured new video iPods. [via iSummit blog]

…the main thing I gathered…is that the professional and up-and-coming broadcast industry and media arts of Canada is relatively isolated in Canada, but there is a major momentum to transcend the weird historical territorial boundaries in place; now couldn’t be a better time to take hold of a global media influence

I couldn’t agree more. And Andrew has good advice on how to approach the transition to an IP-networked world of digital entertainment and social media:

If you move to a new country, with a culture you are unfamiliar with, it’s not going to do you much good to stay at home. You may want to get out there into the environment and walk around to discover things about how the systems work, what kinds of things the people like and don’t like.

The barriers to entry for new content is so low that R&D is very cheap. If you’re still a little leery, Andrew’s coming to mesh, so get your tickets and learn more. Now I’m off to mix my own Chevy Tahoe ad.

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The Global Blog-Mind?

This image from a study [pdf] about the U.S. political blogosphere during the 2004 election (via Washington Monthly) tells an interesting story:

Blog Connections

Basically, left-wing and right-wing blogs link to their ideological kin extensively, whereas there are few links across the left-wing/right-wing divide. With the many difficult economic, social and political challenges facing our society, I would like to say that social media like blogs have the potential to improve the level of political discourse. Unfortunately, the complaint of many that the blogosphere is an echo chamber appears to hold true, at least within these self-selected social groupings. Then again, this is not much different from the physical world, where liberals and conservatives often run in different social circles and rarely interact in any meaningful way.

What is also interesting from this image is the resemblance of the nodes and connectors of a physical brain, with left and right hemispheres. Where is the social media equivalent of the corpus callosum? Where are the connectors between the two hemispheres, whether across political, social or economic divides? Is there a role for social media intermediaries in a world where a million echo chambers occupy every possible area of human interest and pursuit? Where is our sense of collective culture and collective identity headed in a world where we can all surround ourselves with like-minded folk who do not challenge our world-view?

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[mesh]: The Economics of Ideas

With the mesh conference coming to town in May, I decided I will use the time leading up to it to intensify my research and prepare. Yes, I am a strategy nerd and a political economy geek; I need to get myself up to speed so I can usefully contribute to the conversation. David Crow helpfully posted a good reference to some seminal pieces on Marketing/Web 2.0. I am going to pick up just one thread here: the Economics of Ideas, which really is much bigger than either marketing or the web. Paul Romer argues that [pdf]:

Every generation has perceived the limits to growth that finite resources and undesirable side effects would pose if no new recipes or ideas were discovered. And every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas.

This has important implications….

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Rick Segal: “Memo to BigCo, Shut Up”

Rick Segal posts a cautionary tale of Web 2.0 mania causing large companies to toy with the emotions of startups with visions of doing the acquisition dance in their heads, only to leave the wallflowers standing alone. Rick Segal is my kind of VC: he blogs, he questions the orthodoxy of his industry and he’s not afraid to go on a rant. Add Rick to your newsreader if you haven’t already.

Web 2.0 is important, a major shift appears to be underway. But something smells fishy. VC may be broken, the only exit is acquisition, BigCo’s are acquiring startups for “strategic reasons” or to acquire talent and then abandoning innovation, getting stuck with the hard work of building a business model only to be taken out by a new, more innovative startup seeking acquisition, and the cycle continues. Or BigCo sits on ass and plays kingmaker while eager young pups jostle for attention, wasting everyone’s talents, time and attention. This is a sucky and anti-innovative situation.

I’ve been exploring these themes a lot lately (here & here), but I sure don’t have it figured it out yet. It has something to do with the tension between network economics and the desire of capital to internalize the market. Web 2.0 and Capital may be a paradox, or they may present a new kind of arbitrage opportunity. More on this later…

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The conference with a name: mesh, May 15th & 16th

mesh - Canada's Web 2.0 Conference

Ok, now I understand what’s been keeping TorCamp Chief Instigator David Crow busy these days. Clearly, he’s been helping instigate the mesh conference, even got himself a speaking gig. Fantastic. What is mesh? Why it’s Canada’s Web 2.0 conference, of course. And seriously, just go to the site and checkout the lineup: Om Malik, Steve Rubel, Michael Geist, Jason Fried. This is exciting.

Combined with TorCamp2 BarCampToronto2.0 the weekend leading in, this is going to be a major happening and could just be Toronto web scene’s event of the year. This really puts Tdot on the map in this very exciting space at a very exciting time. Great to see.

Register now.

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ROOT /Markets for your attention

ROOT is fascinating. ROOT is creating a vault and a market for your attention metadata. Get some context from CEO Seth Goldstein’s talk at ETech. The interface looks like Ajax-y Bloomberg, which shouldn’t be surprising. Goldstein’s blog tagline says it all: “Somewhere between Wall Street and Madison Avenue lies the future of both.” ROOT is Madison Avenue meets Wall Street via Silicon Valley. There are plans to capture attention metadata from websites to videos to music to, well, just about anything that can leave behind metadata breadcrumbs. That data is yours to be stored in /Vault and can be “sold” via /Market. That’s when it all gets fuzzy to me.

Root 01

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What is Web 2.0, anyway?

Shel Israel asks:

Is it already too late to rename Web 2.0?

Good question. I know I’m already a little weary of the term. I encourage you to leave your ideas on Shel’s original post. But without consensus on its meaning and definition, it’s hard to rename the beast (assuming that is even possible).

It may just be the political economy geek in me but I think “the Network Economy” is a closer, although less buzzworthy, description of what Web 2.0 actually is. Or rather, Web 2.0 is a technological, social and cultural phenomenon that is acting as the disintermediation engine of a nascent Network Economy. If there are any naming consultants out there, I’d love to see those ideas.

The language is important, because without a language it becomes difficult for the Web 2.0 community to place itself in relation to and communicate with established businesses and the mass audience that remains in the real world outside the echo chamber, largely unaffected and unconcerned. The 1.0 world will only fully take notice once this massive shift starts to make itself truly felt, and I believe those effects are primarily economic and social/cultural in nature.

Web20 En-1

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