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Sean Wheller
Jan 18 2008
Will the real Mr. Web 2.0 please stand up
Friday, 18 January 2008

I can't help but wonder about the state of the South African Internet as a place for commerce. The South African Internet and its' marketers seem to face so many obstacles. Now speak to any person doing business on the Internet and the first and most foremost thing they will complain about is the poor DSL services and bandwidth limitation caps that limit what one can do. But this post is not another tick on the wall complaining about Telkom and their amazing lack of service or understanding that access services to the Internet should be considered as a basic public utility, like electricity or water.

No sir, that problem is just one of many and I think need no further discussion from me, there are enough other activists out there doing that.

Now I can see what what you're thinking, "OK, this guys going to talk about the prohibitive hosting costs." Well, no. It's not about that, although just so you know, I agree that is one of the challenges Internet Marketers in South Africa face. This post is also not about the total rip-off by our banks when it comes to charging on merchant accounts, nor the crazy monetary policy that restricts us on taking money off-shore and taxes us heavily if we need to repatriate funds back to our local banks.

No, this post is about something even bigger than these problems.

Some months ago, toward the end of 2007, I attended a presentation delivered by Mr. Arthur Goldstuck, a leading journalist, media analyst and commentator on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in South Africa. The presentation was held at the Innovation Hub, an institution that is supposed to be the bastion of Innovation in South African ICT. The presentation had a super catchy title with the words, "Web 2.0".

Now, to me, putting the words Web 2.0 in a heading for free presentation, sponsored by an organization that is meant to be the bastion of national innovation, delivered by one of the country's leading guru's, is a sure fire way to make me reschedule meetings, battle traffic, spend petrol and time to be there. As an investor in Internet Real Estate, its' just not something I want to miss.

So I did all the above and joined a full room of people who were probably just as drawn in as I was. What a let down. After 20 minutes listening to Mr. Goldstuck I could see that he really had no clue about what Web 2.0 really is about. He was grinding on about access devices, user demographics and how South Africans online were just getting to grips with shopping on the Internet. Wireless. mobile, devices and access methods, all the trends and all the stats were amazing and exact, but in my opinion just missed the point and demonstrated that Mr. Goldstuck really had no clue that everyone already knew that the world was about IP.

In the first 20 minutes, I'd  fallen asleep to a presentation that I was truly amped to hear. Stepping outside I found a handful of techies wondering around in bewilderment. We all just took one look at each other and burst out laughing. Guess we did not say much to one another, didn't even exchange names, we knew what we were laughing at.

Now you may ask, "Why are you only blogging this now?"

Well, it's taken some time for me to realize that this actually needs to be blogged about. When I left the presentation that day, I had put  the whole experience behind me before I left the front gates of the Innovation Hub. So why now?

Well something I was listening to today about Web 2.0 today triggered my mind back and I could not help recollect. At the same time it struck me that, if there were so many people in that room that day and South Africa's leading media analyst and commentator on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the bastion of Innovation in South African ICT, very few people must have any clue of what Web 2.0 is.

That's a scary thought. Most people using the Internet for commerce have no clue what the heck Web 2.0 is about. So I think it's time to blog this and hopefully ask the real Mr. Web 2.0 to please stand up.

It seems our experts are so focused on the fringe, the access devices we use and the bit pipe that they this is what they think Web 2.0 is about. How far wrong. They totally missed the point that web 2.0 is not about any of this, it's about social media, social networking, social marketing and social everything. It's about people power, transparency, public opinion and things like that.

Don't believe me. Okay, you may think I'm barking mad. But sites like YouTube get more page views and unique visitors  day than any of the search engines. MySpace has more share of the total number of the Internet population that Google . Even FaceBook has more. In fact, most social websites beat Google by 10's of percent. Guess what else, there are more Baby Boomers taking part in those sites than weenie boppers speaking about their favorite band or the gorgeous guy in their class.

So if you're looking for Web 2.0, don't look on the fringe. It's out there on digg , technorati , , youtube, facebook and over 1029 more such sites. There, now that the real Web 2.0 just stood up, I wonder how long it will take for South African Internet marketers to understand. I mean, most are still chasing the SEO and link building.

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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.

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