Le Web 3 – Day One

Leweb3Le Web 3 has been disappointing – though I’m not sure, whether this is due to an underwhelming programme or simply that general debate on 2.0 has not progressed much lately; I had a similar feeling after this year’s ETech…but that maybe because my expectations increase with each year 🙂

The underlying tone of Le Web seemed to assume that delegates knew little of 2.0 and had been just waiting to be told…the general message was that ‘Web 2.0 was a great idea’, ‘open source is cool’ and ‘user-generated content was important‘ – we sorta knew this already…

There was also a disappointing deference to speakers’ positions – a panel session including representatives of Microsoft, Orange, Nokia and Yahoo should have hauled some of the representatives over the coals. Instead, we heard lazy reiterations of each company’s position. Yes, Nokia is connecting people, Orange is converging and Microsoft is Live…

Earlier this year, The Next Web, put together a compelling, tight, one-day programme that didn’t parrot the memes of Web 2.0 but gave Kevin Kelly space to speculate on the distant future history of the web and Steven Pemberton the chance to share his vision of the future structure of the web. They also managed to maintain a European focus by getting European VCs to talk about where they were betting their money.

Despite today’s snoozely content, there were some highlights…

  • Feeling smug that I’m employed by both of the two key sponsors, Orange and TechCrunch.
  • Hans Rosling‘s session on The Real World & Why It Matters was an engaging and insightful tour of various human development trends. This is the data that’d driving 2.0 yet is often overlooked in the fetishisation of technological developments.
  • Catchin’ up with Jeanette Moskivitz at lunch. She’s now CEO of AutoQuake, a company that helps customers eBay their old cars. We last met at dinner with Marc Canter in Summer 2005.
  • Meeting the lovely Amanda Lorenzani, editor of Excite’s WebTwitcher blog.
  • Adding another O’Reillian to my collectionNikolaj Nyholm. I’m constantly amazed by Tim O’Reilly’s ability to find super-smart people who are really approachable and laid back. Marc, Rael, Nat, Jon, Lorrie, Mike – they’re some of the nicest and smartest people I know 🙂
  • Picking up a free La Fonera wifi router from FON.
  • Loïc’s surprise announcement that Shimon Peres had called that very morning to request a speaking slot on Tuesday…now I really regret not packing my Kaffiyeh.
  • Hearing about Sam’s ideas for Startup! and discussing our plans for a TCUK event in Leeds.
  • Seeing Lee Bryant passionately shoot down the naive characterisation of Enterprise 2.0 as ‘distributed capitalism’. Also discovering that Lee’s a fellow Northerner from Harrogate, used to work for the heroic Haris Silajdžić and is an advisor to the board of the Muslim Heritage project! I now like Lee a lot 🙂
  • Bumping into FTRD’s Benoit Lelong on the Métro at Corentin Celton. I assisted Benoit on FT’s Usage Trends Observatory in 2005.

Sadly, the sessions, keynoters and panel sessions were kinda forgettable; doubly ironic as turnout was over a thousand delegates and the list of speakers was, on paper, pretty stellar. The conference was however a great networking event; I wonder if workshops, how-tos and smaller more intimate sessions could have worked better for the delegates, giving more space to meet each other in more managable sessions.

David Sifry at Le Web 3

However, without a guiding theme or framework, like ETech’s Remix, Magic and Attention or The Next Web’s infectious futurism, Le Web currently lacks a voice that’s unique.

UPDATE – Sadly, Sam’s quite reasonable and balanced impressions of Le Web, have led to an unfortunately public exchange with Loïc and resulted in unpleasant consequences.


  1. Yup, and then the organiser pops up and calls Sam Sethi an arsehole on the Techcrunch blog. Just about sums up this roadcrash of an event. That said, the networking was _excellent_


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