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Ask Jeff Bezos, Adam Bosworth, John Doerr, Eddy Cue...

by Tim O'Reilly
Sep. 21, 2004

As you probably know if you've followed O'Reilly, we have a pretty good track record of calling important technology trends early. We published our first book on the web in 1992, when there were only 200 web sites. We created the first commercial web site in 1993, along the way pioneering both internet advertising and the web portal (our site, GNN or the Global Network Navigator, was the first to do both). We published our first Linux book in 1991, and in 1998 organized the open source summit, the meeting where the term "open source" was formally adopted by the leaders of most major open source projects. So I hope I'll get your attention when I say that the trends that are emerging today are at least as earth-shaking as the web and the open source movement turned out to be.

I'm talking about the emergence of what I've started to call Web 2.0, the internet as platform. We heard about that idea back in the late 90s, at the height of the browser wars, but that turned out to be a false alarm. But I believe we're now starting the third age of the internet -- the first being the telnet-era command line internet, the second the web -- and the third, well, that tale grows in the telling. It's about the way that open source and the open standards of the web are commoditizing many categories of infrastructure software, driving value instead to the data and business processes layered on top of (or within) that software; it's about the way that web sites like eBay, Amazon, and Google are becoming platforms with rich add-on developer communities; it's about the way that network effects and data, rather than software APIs, are the new tools of customer lock-in; it's about the way that to be successful, software today needs to work above the level of a single device; it's about the way that the Microsofts and Intels of tomorrow are once again going to blindside established players because all the rules of business are changing.

I've organized a conference on this new platform, called, as you might expect from the above writeup, Web 2.0. The conference is being held three weeks from now in San Francisco, at the Hotel Nikko, October 5-7. Unlike other O'Reilly conferences, which are targeted more to developers, this one is targeted squarely at investors, technology executives, venture capitalists, and business strategists -- people who need to understand the shape of the future if they are going to take advantage of it. We're talking one-on-one with many of the key players in the new platform, plus showing "high order bit" demos of important new software.

The format of the conference is very conversational -- interviews with CEOs and technologists by people (like me) who want to get at the big insights behind their success. I have lots of ideas about what I want to ask these folks, but I bet you can make me even smarter, and the conference even better.

If you had a chance to sit one on one with Jeff Bezos in front of several hundred of his peers, what would you want to ask him? How about Adam Bosworth, whose recent move from BEA to Google has lots of people wondering what he's up to next? How about Eddy Cue? Just how far does Apple think it's going to be able to take iTunes and the digital music revolution?

Take a look at the program, then send me email submitting the questions you'd like to see asked of any of the speakers or panelists. (If you know my name, you know my email address.) If I'm not leading the session myself, I'll pass them on to the appropriate moderator, and we'll use the best of them to inform our line of questioning. Of course, if you come to the conference, you can ask your questions yourself, since every session will have time for audience interaction, and most of the speakers will be around for hallway conversations at the conference as well. And of course, you can also post your question here as a talkback on this blog. I hope to hear from you, or see you at the conference.

Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O'Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim's blog, the O'Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim's long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O'Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

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