Over a week ago I went to the Next Web conference in Amsterdam. I have been very busy this week, but I wanted to wait a while before I wrote a post about what I learned and liked as there was in all honesty a lot to take in.
Firstly it was great to see some of the people I have met before at various Amsterdam technology events, it is a small town, but there are a lot of people here who have big ideas, about all sorts of things.
Next Web was organised by Boris and Patrick of Fleck.com and I think they got a really good balance of new new things mixed with deep theory and visionary thinking. I really enjoyed hearing Kevin Kelly talk about his vision of the future of 'the internet'. Steven Pemberton discussed how new technologies and standards were emerging and how this will change how we make things with code - quicker, smarter, cheaper, faster....
At the time I was whole heartedly more inspired by these discussions than I was by the 'web 2.0 startup' presentations. I remember feeling a true excitement about the new internet, web2.0 or whatever it is now oh so unfashionably called back in 2005. The first Amsterdam Barcamp in October 05 attracted the BBC's Newsnight team, and it was the first time I felt something really new in the web. We were using and talking about Flickr, our blogs, it was the first time we'd seen Flock and Jabber and people were discussing Million Dollar Homepage along side the 'read/write Internet'. Amidst this excitement, my concern was that mobile was so slow to keep up, where was the innovation, where was the mobile 2.0?
So last week, I was much less excited to see the next wave of web2 services; social software, file sharing, storage, user generated content, personal web channels.. the predicatble list goes on.
But then something odd happened. I started using some of the apps from these 'promising european startups' and truly, they're really good.
My new favourite thing ever is Netvibes. It rocks, it really does. Wow. If you haven't used it, please go check it out; the zero sign up is fab, but it is the ecosystem concept that is truly inspiring. If there isn't a module for your particular favourite thing you want add to your Netvibes homepage, it's pretty easy to make one and share it. I have added the Treasuremytext feed to my own and also shared that with the community.
My other new new thing is Hyves. My new 'Hyves friend' Youri was telling me the impressive stats and you only need to spend two minutes on Hyves to realise this is big. Everyone in the Netherlands is using this to stay in touch with their friends, to network, to find work, to orgnaise parties. More "ourspace" than "myspace" you can find someone to connect to whatever your thing. Raymond Spanjar (Chief Hyves Officer) discussed growth and expansion to other countries in his presentation - it's one of those things that just spreads, and fast.
What else? Well I could talk about how much we love Plazes but I am sure Felix is bored of hearing me say how much we love it by now (although I do want a mobile version soon please!).
So what's next? Well I am still excited by some of this 'next web' stuff, leave the hype aside, and actually I am discovering new services that make life easier, and better. I still want to see more new thinking in mobile, but yes Next Web was a good conference, for an organised kind of affair! Perhaps at the next next web we might see some of the unconference ethic creeping back into the Amsterdam scene? - Whatever, I will be looking forward to it, and congrats to Boris and Patrick and co for what was a fun day out.