Mr. Web 2.0 addresses rights to Web 2.0 service mark

Tim O'Reilly returned from vacation to a firestorm of concern and penned this thoughtful reply

I thought it was a nicely reasoned, rational reply to the brushfire of angry commentary, but unfortunately did not really address the key concern of many which is that enforcing rights to "Web 2.0" *appears* to be outside of the spirit of Web 2.0 as representing open, freewheeling, new age business models. He seems to say this is only a conference thing but that does not jive with the more sweeping claims to "Web 2.0" that the staff replies seem to be addressing.

I think this may be especially true of those in the EU who are not as familiar with the O'Reilly name and sterling reputation.

It's easy for me to say but I think there is more to be gained from the positive publicity that will follow dropping the claim on the mark than from fighting to own it.

I think I've spent enough time worrying over this one – O'Reilly is a fine company and will handle this reasonably.

Fiddling while O’Reilly Rome burns?

Poor Tim O’Reilly. He heads out on vacation and perhaps still unknown to him a firestorm of protest erupts overnight over his company’s decision to fight to protect their ownership of service mark “Web 2.0 Conference”.

I’m sure the O’ staff is upset and worried, but their statements are not managing to comfort the BlogBarbarians at the gate who grew very hostile very fast.

Though I’m generally in the “support” camp, feeling this is greatly overblown by detractors (which is part of why blog land is so enjoyable). I wonder if folks are doing a bit of fiddling over there while O’Rome burns. Clearly people feel that it’s not in the spirit of Web 2.0 to try to *own* the name “Web 2.0”.

This issue appears to have struck a strong chord and staff would be well advised to lay the groundwork for a retraction (rather than the groundwork for arguments in favor of the action).

Retraction is the logical step by Tim to avoid a PR disaster. Instead staff and even the inimitable John Battelle seem to be saying “we were right and when his 2.holiness returns he’ll rescue us from the situation”.

I’d bet my own rights (or lack of them) to my own name that O’Reilly will pull the claim to “Web 2.0” almost as soon as he returns.

Copyright is copywrong in this case since you are protecting more long term profits by … NOT fighting for this as an O’Reilly mark. Given the level of hostility NOW, think of the blog response if they actually go court on this issue !?!

UPDATE:  Here’s the resolution, which is very reasonable IMHO.   He’s only going to hassle this for “confusingly similar” conferences.

Google v Kinderstart Lawsuit over downranking

Eric Goldman offers his summary of the Google v. Kinderstart lawsuit, and I think he speaks for many online people in his aversion to government regulation of search. However, I'm not as persuaded as he by the Google arguments, which ring increasingly hollow given the complexities of the ranking process and the onslaught of spam, which seriously inhibits the ability of search engines to rank sites optimally for users.

Our Online Highways site suffered a similar fate to Kinderstart in February 2005 when Google traffic dried up almost overnight. As one of the most comprehensive travel sites online it is still not clear why the site was downranked. Google has assured us we have "no penalties" and only have changed from algorithmic ranking issues. Our pages are still in the Google index yet Google users are unlikely to find us despite the fact we have arguably the best treatment of several travel topics. Note which was developed by the Silk Road region's top travel guide publisher.

Frankly I'm surprised how sympathetic Goldman is to the notion that the cornerstone issue here is Google's right to do pretty much whatever they please regardless of the consequences. I'm guessing he was hardly this generous with Microsoft's attempts to monopolize search using the browser.

The "hands off of search" is a slippery slope, especially when granted to companies that make 97% of their revenues from advertising. I strongly contend that there are solutions that help users and enhance Google's long term prospects which some feel are in great jeopardy due to ranking capriciousness.

The solution is to create MUCH better feedback mechanisms for webmasters and companies that suffer from ranking irregularities. Google's actually started such a process though I think it's only addressing a small percentage of the growing number of legitimate concerns about ranking changes.

Web 2.0 is brought to you by …..

Wow, O'Reilly sure pissed off a bunch of Web 2.0 people fast!

My take on the controversy which has become a top Web debate this afternoon, posted at O'Reilly's blog:

I've defended O'Reilly's corporate action since clearly Tim coined the term and Tim has done more to foster Web 2.0 notions than anybody else.

But you need to throw in the towel here as I'm confident Tim will do when he returns to this firestorm of protest.

Right or wrong the "Web 2.0" mark is not worth this level of hostility to the idea of "owning" a term celebrating the collective sharing of networked intelligence. Many rights are worth fighting for. Owning "Web 2.0" clearly is not.

Death on Everest. Would YOU have stopped climbing to save the guy?

News Item:
David Sharp, 34, died apparently of oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week.
More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance.

Our first reaction is to be appalled at the lack of concern and I'm anxious to hear from those who passed him by to hear their rationalizations. A Semper Fi sensibility hardly seems to apply to the new Everest hiking crowd. Sir Edmund Hillary observed this in his harsh criticism of the decision to put the summit above saving a life.

YET don't we ALL do this every day when we choose to distance ourselves from far more pressing global concerns where saving lives requires nothing like the efforts needed in this case? The key difference is proximity rather than ability to help. A modest Unicef contribution is more likely to save a life than attending to an oxygen deprived climber at 27000 feet in 80 below zero weather. Yet we don't have to look the malnourished kid in the face and thus we condemn and abhor the feelings of those who passed by the climber but absolve ourselves of what are probably more justified feelings of guilt for doing little in the face of great need.

It's a cruel world, right?


Big Profit Eludes – why?

This excellent New York Times article outlines how Myspace evolved from a spammy junk site to one of the internet's top destinations, second only to Yahoo in page views according to several sources.   I remain skeptical Myspace has more traffic than EBAY, but clearly they are huge and growing at a jaw-dropping rate from last year.  

HOWEVER, Myspace is NOT hugely profitable with only 1/20th the revenues of Yahoo, the top online destination in terms of pages viewed.

I think the explanation is simple – Myspace traffic is dominated by young onliners who are enthusiastic and spend many hours per day online but have little interest in most advertising and not much money to spend.   I doubt this will change.  

We've noted at our US history site, which appears to get most traffic from school searches, that it is hard to match users and advertisements.

Control Room * * * *

This superb documentary takes us inside Aljazeera TV during the early coverage of the Iraq war and reflects the tensions, biases, trials and tribulations of the Arab world's top news source.  

Aljazeera is preparing to launch a major US and international news effort later this year.    I'm thrilled because I think it will force many Americans to re-examine the nature of news and cultural bias.  

So I Married an Axe Murderer * * *

OK, so I've been sick for the past few days, sitting around watching movies.
Might as well blog the reviews so I can pretend I'm being productive….
I watch a lot of movies so I'll start rating them with stars as follows:

* Sucks
* * Missable
* * * OK – see if bored
* * * * A reall good or great film – see it.
 * * * * YOU MUST see this film!

Mike Myers films are almost always fun to watch (The Cat in the Hat may be a notable exception) and as usual "So I Married and Axe Murderer" from 1993 is clever and funny, with Myers as a multimedia poet who falls for a woman he suspects may be a murderer. Myers also plays his own father.

War of the Worlds – Tom Cruise Edition * * * *

War of the Worlds – the Cruise and Spielberg version, is an excellent special effects movie that manages to preserve enough of the real H.G. Wells classic to be a very entertaining exploration of that timeless theme we Sci Fi fans never tire of – Super advanced Aliens attack earth with ruthless and magnificent technologies, munch humans, and yet (SPOILER HERE) We humans WIN!

As seems too common now with blockbusters the deep and thoughtful nature of the original work, remarkably written in 1898, seems to get lost amid grand and spectacular special effects and family dramatics and histrionics. Yet War of the Worlds is still a very enjoyable movie.