Loïc Le Meur has responded to the criticism made about Le Web 3 in a long, thoughtful post.
I do want to directly address some of the issues mentioned, but I’ll save that for another post. I do, however, want to get my own, personal feelings about the conference down, just for the record.
I had a blast. The conference was far from perfect, but I had an enjoyable, stimulating and though-provoking few days. I probably come from a slightly different perspective from many people there. I uneasily straddle the line between the old media (I’ve been a business journalist for 13 years now) and the new (I’ve been blogging in one form of another for the past five years, and am now a blog evangelist within a business publisher). In many ways, this conference was built for me, because it was an uneasy meeting of the core of long-term bloggers and the wider, mainstream world who have gone from mockery and cynicism about blogging to a business interest.
Was there an inherent conflict there? Yes, of course. There’s been a strong streak of “down with the mainstream media, down with existing business” in much of the early blogging rhetoric, and many people are deeply committed to those ideas. Seeing such an obvious point of meeting between the mainstream and the revolutionary is not going to be to everybody’s taste. But, if blogging, and Web 2.0 in general, is going to be as revolutionary as the claims made of it suggest, it needs to enter the mainstream somehow, either by destroying the existing mainstream, or by subverting it from within. And given my job right now, you can guess which method I favour…
In fact, there were probably four distinct conferences happening side by side:
The experienced bloggers
The Start-ups and VCs, come to do deals
The wider business world, come to learn
The French political circus, a side-effect of blogging’s prominence in France
The impression I get is that, on the whole, groups 2 through 4 had a pretty good time at the conference. The problem lies, broadly, with group one. I think there would have been complaints, even if a French presidential candidate hadn’t done a quick pop-up ad. It was very obvious that the presentations on the main conference floor were not aimed at the very experienced members of the audience. And this wasn’t well flagged up in advance.
The solution? Well, I’m not sure that this is the end of blogging conference, as Loïc and others have suggested. What I think this is is the birth pangs of a more diverse range of blogging conferences.
I’ve just spent the best part of a decade reporting on the commercial property industry (that’s the commercial real estate industry, for American readers). Given that we’ve been constructing buildings for the last few millennia, you might that that people have said all they have to say about buildings. Not true. There are dozens of property conferences every year, from the huge and general, to the small and niche.
I suspect that much of the reaction to Le Web 3 shows that the time has come for blogging and Web 2.0 conferences to start diversifying. One conference can no longer meet everyone’s requirements, and within the next few years we’re going to need to see a whole range of conferences in this area, from the very technical, to the very educational.
Le Web 3 was a brave, if faltering, step in that direction, and for that, Loïc and team deserve some praise. The really big question, though, is how well they take onboard the very valid criticisms made of the event and make sure Le Web 4 is clear and open in its intentions, and smoother in running when its time comes. I wish them well.