I'm here at the Syndicate Conference in San Francisco. The show was kicked-off with a short keynote by conference chairperson (and blogger-extraordinnaire) Doc Searls. Searls led off by talking about how his book -- The Cluetrain Manifesto -- is one of his more significant accomplishments that's still popular six years after it was published, yet, if you search for his name on one of the more popular search engines, you'll invariably be led to his blog instead of his book. The comment set the stage for the way he advised attendees to think of the Web. In discussing the history of blogging and the fathership role that Dave Winer played in giving birth to it, Searls said (although not an exact quote, I asked Searls to confirm that I got it right enough):
I didn't know what blogigng was. I just finsihed writing Cluetrain Manifesto. It was around October/November of 1999 and Dave came to me and told me "You have to do this." The term blogging wasn't significant. It was the "edit this page" feature. That was a really radical idea that you could go to this static thing on the Web and write on it. This led to a split.....like the trunk of tree branching off into two directions. We talk about sites that we develop, architect, construct, and build and they have a location and we think of Web as this place where we have real estate. We wrote on the Web and we authored these things called pages that we put up on the Web. Where Dave really made a difference is he took Rich Site Summary from Dan Libby and turned it into that branch that became the live Web. The static Web is the real estate part. The live web; it only something that living beings can do.
One other key characteristic of the live Web that Searls noted as being important is how the live Web is made up of producers rather than consumers, a trend which is resulting in a "trading places" of sorts where the new, non-traditional producers are a democratizing force. Using photographs as one of the examples of the shift from consuming to producing, Searls said (again, not exact):
The live web represents a complete reversal of power versus the static Web. We're not consuming anymore. We're producing. Syndicating is not consuming. It's producing. We used to print on consumable... paper, we used to take pictures, go pick them up in the bins at the store, maybe make copies of them, and then they'd go into an album in a drawer. That was what the consumer did. Now, the bins at the stories are emtpy. We put them (the photos) on Flickr now. We syndicate them. We produce. There's no such thing as a photo consumer. It's the same thing as Weblogs.
For those who feel like the blogosphere and syndication technologies may have left them behind with no chance to catch up, Searls pointed out that the live Web has only just begun and that rules haven't even been figured out yet. Those comments were echoed by the events next speaker, HP Enterprise Brand Communications director Scott Anderson who, in talking about how HP is embracing the interactivity and dialog driven nature of the live Web said "we're not even through Chapter 1 yet."