Web 2.0, UI and Twitter

This week saw me in San Francisco for the mega Web 2.0 event – I’m actually on my way back now.

It’s a huge event, with thousands of people in the cavernous Moscone Center (sic) in San Francisco. I’ll be posting again when I’ve been through notes and caught up with jet lag, but just wanted to get a few impressions down, while they’re relatively fresh.

While I was there, I took time to visit a few MobHappy readers and find out what they were doing. It’s always a little surreal for me to meet people who actually read what I write. Obviously, I know from the stats that there are rather a lot of you, but meeting in the flesh is always a little weird, though hugely enjoyable.

One such company was Punchcut, an SF based mobile design and UI company. We didn’t get round to talking too much about what they did when we met, but check out their site for a deeply groovy website and an impressive list of previous projects. One thing about the Valley is that it’s still deeply webcentric, with mobile generally thought to be something to do with the iPhone or sms. Obviously, there are lots of exceptions to this generalisation, but even so, it’s nice to see some people who obviously “get” mobile ensconced in San Francisco.

I was doing a panel at Web 2.0 and the turnout was pretty small in comparison to some of the others I attended myself. I think that’s a reflection of the role mobile plays in The Valley today – see my comments above. Little do they realise that their beloved PCs are going to be squished into obscurity by the mighty mobile.

However, what the audience lacked in quantity, they more than made up in quality and lots came forward to have a chat afterwards. Many requested my (free) White Paper on Location Based Marketing and if you were one of them and I haven’t emailed you a copy, drop me a reminder email. Or if you’d like it and weren’t at the conference, just let me know.

One of the strangest panels I attended as a member of the audience was the one on micro-blogging, which in reality means Twitter, which has become the generic platform in this space. It was weird because as the panel spouted their words of wisdom, the audience was tweeting the screens behind them. Often the audience was laughing at a tweet (“the man next to me smells a bit”), which was totally out of synch with what the panel was saying. This must have been hard to cope with for the panelists.

One of the consistent questions from the “backchannel” was about Twitter’s business model, which the panel ignored. It’s not a very Web 2.0 question in some ways – received wisdom is scale first, then worry about making money. Having said that, Twitter does seem to have users now, so the question gets more relevant and legitimate with every passing day.

Do you use Twitter? Do you find it useful? What do you use it for? If you live in The Valley, feel free to respond, but I’m actually more interested in people living in the “real” world.

I’m a little undecided if it’s a fad or here to stay, to be honest. I’m definitely a fan of long-form blogging (you may have noticed) and I totally get other media, such as IM. But I only follow one Twitterer I found remotely interesting on the Twitter channel and that’s Dave Winer. Other big name bloggers might be great as bloggers, but they don’t cut the mustard in micro-blogging, in my experience.

As a Twitterer myself, I don’t think I have enough followers for it to be truly useful as a way of broadcasting messages to a whole bunch of people all at once, but maybe I just need to invest some more time with it.

ā€”ā€“>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo