Tim O’Reilly, head of the company bearing his name that, since 1978, has been a “chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future”, recently visited Nature Publishing Group’s London offices. Rosamund Daw, a senior editor in Nature’s physical sciences team, attended his talk, and here reports her impressions.
Tim O’Reilly’s talk was a fascinating insight into the mind of someone who thinks about new ways of getting people together in real life and on the internet to generate new stuff (ideas, information, products). His presentation was a Q+A forum, which he kicked off by introducing the concept of “Web 2.0” as the phoenix rising from the ashes of the dot-com bust of the early 2000s. The concept of Web 2.0 seems to be based around harnessing the interactive networking power of the internet to provide new functionality and information.
Topics discussed in the forum included concerns with privacy on networking websites. O’Reilly believes that attitudes to privacy more generally are changing: that privacy is something that people are prepared to compromise if they can clearly see the benefits – one of his examples was surveillance cameras, and another is the relaxed attitude that can be seen at the social networking site Facebook.
Another topic was open access. When asked whether making content free led to mediocrity in publication quality online, O’Reilly responded he didn’t believe that this had to be the case, giving Wikipedia as an example.
Anther question concerned what’s at the “edge” of Web 2.0 ? O’Reilly discussed the idea of sensing: generating, for example, new information content through combining imagery posted on the internet. Imagine wandering through the streets of Paris on a virtual site generated from thousands of images of Paris posted on the internet from different people!
O’Reilly was exceptionally kind about NPG’s efforts at the frontline of web developments. He and his colleagues blog at O’Reilly Radar , and you can find out more about his company’s activities here .