Friday, November 24, 2006

A Community of Poseurs

Web 2.0 loves to point out the community expertise that we all encompass (yes, the royal we), but when push comes to shove ... we are just poseurs. Well, not me, but a lot of the experts in the Bay Area.

Why? Well, the Laughing Squid party drove a point home - as I had noted to Jeremiah (and he blogged). Only the big squid himself, Scott Beale, could throw a party that crossed the Burning Man crowd with the Web 2.0 techie crowd along with other hipsters. Scott is one of the few people that can cross over so many communities - he's like that popular guy in high school that could cross the cliques and be friends with everyone. (And, yes, he really is that nice a guy.)

Sadly, though, not many people can cross over like Scott. The Web 2.0 marketers and PR people cannot move beyond Web 2.0 people, and that is a big problem. And that is why many web 2.0 companies are likely destined to fail: they cannot think beyond the Bay Area and Valley. It goes to my favorite mottos from the Web 1.0: Fuck the Bay, Fuck the 7x7, Fuck the Valley - mostly to remind myself that just because it plays in SF, does not mean the rest of the country would care. And, let's be honest, SF people are cheap and fickle.

Me, I can cross over also. I was off my game at Laughing Squid II but at least I talked to other people that I did not know. I talked college football. :) But, I was pissed because I have been off lately - preoccupied or feeling like something's missing - but that did not stop me from moving beyond the safe zone of Web 2.0 people to meet others, to talk to others.

But the sad statement of the event was that it is very very clear that we wear blinders, we are insular and we cannot think of the bigger community, and even worse (or sadder) we cannot work in the bigger community.

For all the PR 2.0 and marketing 2.0 people, all that really says is that they mean they can work in their little enclaves, but in the big bad world ... they are failures.

And, that's why I always tell people I'm a Detroiter (although I'm also from Phoenix, but it's the same thing): I think like a Midwesterner and try to think how and why a Midwesterner would like a product / Web site. When I was back in Michigan for my cousin's wedding, my Uncle and other cousin had an interesting take on YouTube and Google: Google did it for the tax write off. They don't use Flickr, they all use Ofoto (because they were supporting me while I was there). They don't know or care about Web 2.0 - they just want stuff that works online, and can get stuff done. Blogs, yes they read them (and mine), but podcasts and vidcasts are just not there for them right now.

And, this is the real world we need to think of - the flyover states that still control the nation (despite our disdain for them). If we cannot move into those communities - like most were unable to do at the Laughing Squid II party - then we are failing our clients and failing ourselves.

Photo of Scott Beale and Michigan autumn leaves by me.

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