Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Web conference hacked: what's next?

The amount of criticism about the way Le Web 3 conference was high-jacked by politicians is stunning. A distinction needs to be made between issues and individuals. I have certainly made quite a few mistakes in this life and will not cast a stone at any one individual; Loic Le Meur has been criticized as a person and in terms of his competence for running a conference like this one. I am not sure that's the point. Actually, I do think we need to distinguish between individuals (with their limitations and personal challenges) and issues.
Perhaps what happened is an opportunity for the community of bloggers to play the game of democracy, "the right to make mistakes and the obligation to correct them" as Shimon Peres said. After all, don't we all carry part of the responsibility for letting such an event in the hands of one, when our true aspiration is one of a peer-to-peer distributed world in which individuals can freely participate? In the economy when markets work it is because no single participant can skew the process. So, acknowledging the following facts:

  1. there must be a reason why 1000 people from 37 countries gathered in Paris these two days

  2. humans need to meet in person aside from having a presence on the web

  3. the community of people involved in collaborative, distributed, social processes is interested in
    • finding out new applications and services,

    • understanding how existing applications affect real life

    • finding their role in the world

    • ...

  4. "the world is pregnant  with a new age" and this community stands to play a role to transform old ways

  5. as the influence of the community of free agents / free participants grows, established players will try to seize the dynamics of the process to their own benefit (see how Elkabach from Europe 1 jumped on the scene to take control of the interview of one of the French politicians on stage - luckily the facilitator that was translation stopped him and took questions from the audience)

perhaps the community of bloggers ought to put together a dynamic self-organizing global forum:

  • built around the essential principles of the Internet (peer-to-peer, distributed, never relying on any one node, inclusive, self-organizing, with minimal central infrastructure used to help route packets, free as in free enterprise, sometimes free as in free beer, open...)

  • organized in streams (and perhaps politics should have a stream of its own with rules for politicians to be there on equal terms with participants), with topics emerging dynamically instead of being built as an agenda of items structured as "Is XYZ dead?" (where XYZ is some familiar topic of the traditional world: media, politics, television, bananas...)

  • focused on objectives (one of which could be a "better world" initiative if the objective emerges from the community of bloggers) to be updated on a regular basis

  • bridging the gap between technologies and applications in this space

  • providing opportunities for people to meet and co-create

  • ...


  1. As a first time participant (french) at this LeWeb3 conference, your comments are the most relevant i have seen so far as of : "the morning after" !
    I support very much that LeWeb3 is an interesting achievement that needs to be brought to the next level in a refocused blogging way.
    Let's help LLM learn from his mistakes by giving robust feedback (vs just yelling at him as i have seen here and there)

  2. I think it's time for a real technology conference in Europe. Many of us love the O'Reilly ETech event in San Diego. Why can't we have that here in Europe? We have the talent, the presenters, the audience, the sponsors. Let's do it. Send me an email and I'll create a page asking for submissions and people to be on the program committee and we will do something productive and useful. The demand is there. I've complained about Le Web 3 but the key is to do something about it. I would never attend an event organized by those people again.

  3. It's quite cool to see something positive coming out of an unpleasant experience. I simply wish to draw your attention on the importance and value of forgiving without forgetting because the last thing our world needs is more division. Everybody can make a mistake and it is not because we may avoid repeating the same mistake that we will not do other mistakes.
    Let's simply go one step beyond, bring this to another level and transcend and include whatever valuable has been achieved so far, which owes something to the early work of "those people". Let's simply use the power of the people to keep those who lead honest with themselves and with the world.

  4. Hi,
    I agree with the idea of an European IT event (don't know about the ETech, so I can't judge). I just wanted to add one or two ideas :
    1 - IT business is too much an important matter to be left in the hands of one individual, or even one organization (being LLM or anybody else). The same way as Us poilitics is too much an important issue to leave the presidential elections to US citizens alone, but that's another story :-). This event should be based on the open source dev. model : a core team with 5 to 10 professional wich credibility should be undisputed (I won't be part of it...), and a community of people who can contribute in order to build a better event than a lonely corporation could do.
    2 - I think the event in itself should be "2.0", wich means that the program, the topics, the speakers, etc. should be decided on a collective basis. Why not open a wiki to expose the project, and have proposals rated by the community ?
    wich would leave us to a 3 levels organization :
    A - core team : coordinate the whole thing, and is responsible for the events
    B - community : contribute and help on specific issues, depending on their skills and involvment.
    C - basically everybody else : rates the proposals
    What do you think ?
    I'm ready to be part of the comunity - I work in a marketing consulting firm, I can play a part at my level...

  5. Laurent,
    I think these points are great and actually expand the thoughts I had about what to do next. I just posted a comment on Loic's blog to suggest he took this as input.
    Thanks for your great contribution on this blog! That's real conversation with added value.

  6. I think this is a great post. Showing balance between what was done and what has to be done. With great ideas in the comments. I feel this is the tone of voice with which we can go to the next level.