Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0, Social Web and beyond – My talk at the European parliament ..

This is the full text of the my talk at the European parliament covering Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 and beyond. I spoke at an evening meeting and then another breakfast session the next day on the social web

There are three key themes I was covering in both my talks

a) The future of Web 2.0 is mainly about Mobile Web 2.0(in addition to Enterprise Web 2.0 – which was not the topic of my discussion)

b) Europe already has expertise with Mobile. Hence, Europe should leverage that existing knowledge base into the world of mobility and convergence based on Open standards. However, if we don’t adopt the spirit of the Web, we will lose that expertise

c) The third topic of my discussion was ‘engagement’ i.e. as politicians, Web 2.0 and Mobile Web 2.0 offers the opportunity for politicians to engage with the people – not just at election times(as Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama are doing brilliantly) – but also in a much more ongoing fashion(like MEP Piia-Noora Kauppi is doing through video blog on YouTube)

I must admit I was not quite sure what to expect with this audience – considering that

a) This was not my usual tech audience

b) This is the very first time either Web 2.0 or Mobile Web 2.0 has been discussed at this forum before.

However, I was pleasantly surprised at how my message was received and also how engaged the audience actually was. I have already mentioned specific quotes from Malcolm Harbour MEP, Piia-Noora Kauppi MEP and Bartho Pronk of the European commission - but overall, everyone was keen to understand and engage with the brave new world of Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 – with questions ranging from Identity, net neutrality, the ‘dark side’ of the Social Web(i.e. cyber bullying etc etc), Long Tail education and so on.

So, my talk was as follows ..(10 mins)


Show of hands –

Who has heard of Web 2.0? (Many hands!)

Who understands Web 2.0? (A few brave souls ..)

When Basecamp asked 1000 of their customers what Web 2.0 meant to them:

13% answered that they didn‘t know what it was 87% who answered yes on the question, nearly everybody came up with a different description

So, you are in good company ..

What is Web 2.0

I follow the Tim O Reilly definitions as much as you can .. and so should you!

a) Web as a platform:

pets.com TV(vs. Google)

Can you build a web of mainframes?

Only the Web can connect the smallest farmer in Africa to the rest of the


b) Harnessing collective intelligence : Google page rank

The platform is the Internet, On the Internet, the rules are different. Information sharing is actually better than information hoarding. With enough people sharing information – you build a database and the database becomes bigger and better with incremental users

If it is so simple, why don’t people get it?

a) Some don’t want to understand it

b) Some have their own agendas(dreams of defining Web 3.0!),

c) Some see it as ‘software and not data’ and

d) Some others see it as a part and not the whole(Ajax, mashups etc)

Business models

User enhanced databases – Amazon reviews

On the Internet, you build a product that gets better as you harness the intelligence of the users. Hence, users must contribute. Amazon is a commodity business on one hand (you can’t get more commodity than selling books!) but has implemented many small Web 2.0 innovations(like reviews) so that they are far away from the commodity.

Web 2.0 is all about building systems that get better the more people use them


• People are sharing more – esp. personal information.(ex Twitter)

• In an era of commoditization, people are looking to express themselves ..

• What is the difference between a song and a ringtone: A song is something you consume vs. ringtone is something you display. Hence ringtone has ‘more’ value than the song even when it is a poor copy of the song

• As computers become commoditised .. people buy the Apple for what it means!(and less for what it does) – i.e. a means of expression

Beyond Web 2.0

• Enterprise Web 2.0 and Mobile Web 2.0

• Mobile Web 2.0 = Harnessing collective intelligence from mobile devices

• Location/tags etc

Top 6 areas to look for …

a) Identity

b) Mobile TV – and to me that’s increasingly DVB-H

c) Mobile payments

d) WiFi and Wimax(More the connectivity – the better)

e) Opening networks

f) Long tail education ..

Concluding thoughts

I was born in India and am a naturalised British citizen and by extension a European citizen. So, I have an interest in fostering a vision that benefits the European union ..

The future belongs to pockets of technical excellence ..

As my friend from Tel Aviv said to me once: ‘We Israelis don’t do web 2.0’. That’s an astute observation. Israel has technical competence in security, communications and networking. India – has a more broad based business software experience. Brazil is developing expertise in bio fuels.

So, I ask you as MEPs .. if we fast forward the next few years .. what technical area do we want to dominate? What technical legacy will we leave our children?

And I propose to you – that it is ‘Mobile’

We already have an ecosystem in GSM and we have world leading mobile companies in Nokia and Ericsson based here.

Let us not look to the east – nor the west

We lead America i.e. the West (for once!) with mobile technology ..

Let us not look to the East(Korea and Japan) for innovation. Yes, a lot has been achieved there – but based on closed standards. That innovation is not globally technologically scaleable.

What we are doing here in Europe is fostering innovation based on Open standards and the ethos of the Web. That innovation is globally scaleable and is (globally) inclusive.

Our biggest advantage is our existing infrastructure and a spirit of cooperation!(Both the European Union and the GSM standard are a testament to that .. )

In a world of contribution(Web 2.0) – cooperation is a competitive advantage.

Many thanks to for their help especially to the following


Malcolm Harbour MEP


EIF and especially Peter Linton and

Sean Krepp of Nokia

And finally, an interview of me on Piia’s video blog on YouTube


  1. Virendra says:

    Hi All,
    I guess that Web2 is basically Internet, converged with mobile or other hand held devices, and along with it all conceivable services.
    I have been working on something similar (limited to development of namespace for the platform) my intention is also as you mention to enable connection of a remote user in Africa with the rest of the world. I call it World On Net or Won.
    Frankly it is not that difficult, all it requires to unlearn all we have learnt or experienced till now about networking users. The problems are not much technology /research focused as it has been made out to be, also IPV6 couldn’t solve the problem of naming.
    So to begin with multiple users should be allowed to have the same namespace e.g. John Smith, the dot com way (through gTLDs) doesn’t allow it, creating the monster of cyber squatter ( who should be neutralized.)
    To give you an example of how huge this problem is check this out.
    Recently there was an article that mentions quote ” Shanghainese frustrated over name game” in which it states that there are over 3937 people named Chen Jie and 3751 people named Zhang Min and purely in terms of Surnames (last name) Zhang comes out first with almost 90000 occurrences Unquote. Similarly practically every third person in Korea is a Kim and if I talk about Indians I bet you must have heard a at least one Patel not to mention John Smith in any English speaking country. It is necessary not only to know which Zhang or Patel or John Smith one is talking about but also to trace /locate/ search the right one universally from Domain or related way. Quite a few thousands have tried to solve this problem through directories, yellow pages, Domain services etc yet lacked in one thing or another.
    Also check out this New York Times article “Get out of my Namespace” through any search engine.
    Once this namespace problem is solved, only then could it enable the type of convergence mentioned below.
    The beast of complexity
    Apr 12th 2001
    From The Economist print edition
    Stuart Feldman the director of IBM’s Institute for Advanced Commerce states, Quote “Imagine, says the man from IBM, that you are running on empty and want to know the cheapest open petrol station within a mile. You speak into your cellphone, and seconds later you get the answer on the display. This sounds simple, but it requires a combination of a multitude of electronic services, including a voice-recognition and natural-language service to figure out what you want, a location service to find the open petrol stations near you and a comparison-shopping service to pick the cheapest one. Unquote.
    Now such services would require a platform where ‘all users and service providers are registered, this (Won) would then be the platform for all such net services and also help enabling compatibility and convergence.
    The namespace problem is also accepted by people who are protocol experts working on GENI and UETS, the new Internets being developed.
    World On Net
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    yes .. thats fine! rgds Ajit

  3. Frank says:

    Dear Ajit,
    congratulations for giving a speech about Web 2.0 at the European Parlament! We would really appreciate to know what you think about the first European Social Network with a social agenda. http://www.mypacis.eu/ has been released this week, and your opinion as expert blogger can make a difference!
    Which kind of impact can a Social Network have on European peace, stability, co-operation and policies? Can we make a difference by expressing our opinions online, in a hub where they can benefit from critical mass?
    If you support this project, it would be great if you decide to blog about MyPacis.eu. Below, we enclose a press-release with some more information.
    If you have any question, I am happy to answer! By providing your opinion and blogging about MyPacis.eu, you can already make a difference!
    —– European Social Network: MyPacis.eu —–
    A European Social Network with a social agenda has been officially released this week: http://www.mypacis.eu/ mission is to promote peace, sustainable development, co-operation and enlargement by linking Europeans together.
    MyPacis.eu is different from other social networks: it is made by Europeans for other Europeans. Compared to existing social networks in Europe, it has been designed to be easily localized in every European language, instead of focusing on one or two national markets.
    MyPacis.eu uses Web 2.0 tools which are very attractive for younger generations, but still accessible to more mature ones. Users can choose their level of involvement in the community: from browsing users, just watching pictures, videos and news; to active participants in the discussion about European Union enlargement and other European opportunities, sharing stories, posting opinions and creating groups of interests.
    Younger generations are the ones who will affected the most by changes in Europe. A social network is an effective media to reach them. Now, Europeans can get to know each other better, keep in touch with friends met offline and get informed using a familiar media. Several other projects are in the pipeline, including mobile social network http://www.mypacis.mobi . Also, a free, open source and multilingual suite of web-publishing tools will be released, allowing every Internet user (even without IT skills), to create communities and foster freedom of speech all around Europe, especially where it is needed the most.
    http://www.mypacis.eu/ is a European Social Network with a social agenda: promoting peace by linking Europeans together. It is an open source, integrated and multilingual social network, developed using Web 2.0 tools with a European prospective.