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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Rebooting the Web 2.0 age
By Jem Stone
Executive producer portfolio, BBC Future Media and Technology

Reboot
Reboot has been running for nine years
The future of the web is being debated at Reboot 9.0, a leading European grassroots technology and design conference in Copenhagen.

The 500 web developers, entrepreneurs, and designers that have descended on a leafy suburb of the Danish capital have been contributing to a growing trend in technology conferences by effectively collaborating together to produce the conference itself.

Reboot was one of the first events of its type to try and adapt open source software themes such as collaboration and openness to the complex task of organising a conference.

Addressing the young laptop-toting audience Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, the 29-year-old web developer who has been producing the event since it began in 1998, insisted in his opening that "it's not us that makes [Reboot] great, its you".

Now nine years on, a large number of public gatherings of new media developers tend to self organise events in this way, such as Bar Camp and Unconference.

Everyone that is doing well, and the greatest pattern of Web 2.0, is creating value by sharing control
Ross Mayfield, SocialText

It is what Russell Davies, the London advertising blogger behind June's Interesting07, calls an "enthusiast generated" event.

This year's conference theme is Human? with many speakers grappling with such deep philosophical queries as what it means to be human. One session was called Humanism 101.

Understanding human behaviour and how to adapt those behaviours to technology and the web rather than the reverse is rare for technology devotees.

However, it is no surprise as the big subject in the bars and on the grass outside was this week's sale of London social software music service Last.fm.

Its creator Martin Stiskel, explaining why US broadcaster CBS would want to buy a music preference tool said: "They want to move from a content company to an audience company, giving the audiences control and learning from this and that's why Last.fm was their choice."

Big question

The big question here for the start-ups and opinion formers is how to use Web 2.0's focus on community to build the next generation of web tools and become Europe's Web 2.0 poster child.

One of the afternoon's keynotes, Ross Mayfield from social software company Socialtext, perhaps summed it up best.

"Everyone that is doing well, and the greatest pattern of Web 2.0, is creating value by sharing control," he said.

It is true that some of the universal trends for the web services doing the rounds were those that had tools to encourage group interaction.

Jaiku, like its Californian rival Twitter, is a social tool to share very short messages online, known as "micro blogging".

The difference with Jaiku is that the company behind it is from Finland.

In May it had an official backchannel - a public stream of comment - for the Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki. The tool makes it so easy to contribute that it already had thousands of users.

Serendipity

It is also providing the official backchannel for Reboot and a feed of the quotes and text plays out on screens throughout the various halls and spaces.

A typical message to other conference goers reads: "Interesting on trust in the small hall"

Another highlight was Dopplr, a new service "designed in a pub" according to its design director Matt Jones.

Announced as part of a talk on travel and serendipity, Dopplr gives frequent travellers a tool to "share where you are going to be with who you trust".

It is currently in private beta and open to invitation only, although it appears to be used already by dozens of the Reboot attendees.

Apparently users of the service are fixing up meetings in pubs, bars and cafes that would not have happened otherwise.

Although the site works in a familiar way to any user of social software, using friends and invites, Jones wanted to stress that Dopplr "is a feature of a larger service, called the internet".

He said: "We're trying to be a beautiful part of the web."


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