Web 2.0: Is O'Reilly's vision a keeper? Amazon vs. Alexaholic

Web 2.0: Is Tim O’Reilly’s Vision a Keeper? Amazon vs. Alexaholic
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor

Tim O’Reilly graciously bestowed a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct” upon the blogosphere earlier this month. In 2004, he christened “Web 2.0” for the world. 

Tim O’Reilly has helped publish many a tech how-to manual. But, has he really written the definitive book on Web 2.0? 

O’Reilly Media touts many a claim to fame:

Creator of the first commercial website (GNN),
Organizer of the summit meeting that gave the open source software movement its name,
Prime instigator of the DIY revolution through its Make magazine…

How has O’Reilly achieved his self-proclaimed “catalytic” impact on technology?

O’Reilly Media is driven by a “philosophy” to pursue “advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism,” as a for-profit business model tenet.

O’Reilly on  the“birth” of Web 2.0:

2004. The Web 2.0 Conference, hosted by O'Reilly, John Battelle, and MediaLive, introduces the Web 2.0 meme to a sold-out crowd.

O’Reilly told a college student in 2001 that his company was “instrumental in spreading the early gospel of the Web.”

He also underscored how such a “catalytic” impact on technology dovetails with the economic best interests of his own company:

Our open source advocacy grew naturally from our involvement with open source communities and the technologies they developed.

For example, my early PR efforts on behalf of open source were sparked by the immense press coverage of Microsoft's ActiveX (which no one was using) and the lack of any coverage of Perl (which our book sales indicated was a core Internet technology). I saw an injustice, realized that open source communities had no PR machine at their disposal, and started making noise on their behalf.

A core principle of O'Reilly has always been to "do the right thing." As the company has grown, we've had a larger platform for advocating technology issues. But, this is also good marketing.

When O’Reilly speaks then, is he speaking for himself personally, or to “evangelize” a favored “cause”, or on behalf of one of his ventures…or are all motivations inexorably intermingled towards a singular O’Reilly-centric economic end game.

At the most recent O’Reilly public Web 2.0 business venture, Web 2.0 Expo held last week, O’Reilly interviewed Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.

O'Reilly asked about the controversy surrounding Alexaholic, an independent site that used data from Alexa, a service owned by Amazon that had demanded the owner stop using Alexa's name and information, as reported by SFGate’s Dan Frost:

"The Alexa team takes exception to trademark infringement, which is how the tussle got started," Bezos said. "He's still got the Alexaholic domain and changed the name to Statsaholic... You can't infringe on their trademark and you can't infringe on their data."

O'Reilly expressed disappointment with Bezos' position. "You should come to some rapprochement," he said. "It's a really useful site."

Was O’Reilly passing judgment on a supposedly non-Web 2.0 friendly Amazon business decision for a “catalytic” impact, an economic one …?

Could O’Reilly possibly be privy to every piece of pertinent, factual data about a business dispute between a publicly traded company and a private venture?

Should conference organizer and keynote host Tim O’Reilly really serve as Web 2.0 witness, judge and jury all rolled up into one, admonishing Web 1.0 innovator and operator Bezos before the world?

Does the Amazon founder & CEO benefit from O’Reilly’s advice, served publicly?

Perhaps the O’Reilly Web 2.0 vision is deemed to be the necessarily infallible one, as he helped introduce “the Web 2.0 meme to a sold-out crowd,” in 2004.

O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 vision, of course, is malleable when his own trademark ownership is deemed to be at stake, as was seen almost one year ago: Web 2.0 trademark tailspin.

By the way, its Web 2.0 month at O’Reilly Media: “buy two books, get the third free!”

ALSO: Google: Is the Web 2.0 honeymoon over? and Web 2.0: Does ‘old media’ get it? and Social Capital Theory Meets Web 2.0

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