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Le Web: Bright Spots in the Afternoon

I'm happy to say that the afternoon of Le Web picked up and was less of a back-patting fest and more of a focus on the web...even the future of it! It was kicked off nicely with Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome (and Gnomedex) fame, who brought humanity to the discussion with his 'Community is...' presentation. He highlighted that community is not a tool (saying that you are a tool for approaching it like that) and that you need to leave your ego at the door to make it happen. I also love that he stressed the importance of letting go of control and letting leadership emerge naturally. Chris should know. He's been doing this for many years. I was heartened to hear his refreshing perspective even if some of those jokes were a little lame. (joke)

I was interested to hear that Chad Hurley (YouTube) has an additional fashion! His site Hlaska has some really beautiful products, including these yummy cufflinks (added to my wishlist!). I was very impressed that such a young entrepreneur has so many complex sides to him.

I fell in love for the umpteenth time with Marissa Mayer of Google. She brims over with passion and excitement every time she talks about what is happening and really knows where the web is going. Google is a leader for a reason and I think Marissa is a big part of it. She's passionate about Google users and being one step ahead of our needs. I drooled over Google Goggles, Chrome (now available for Mac - will be giving it a whirl tomorrow) and her general discussion of how the offline is becoming part of the "connected" world. This is a conversation I was really hoping would come up during the conference and she really delivered.

I had to run before she was finished, but I was also enjoying the bubbling do-gooderness (said in a positive way) of Toronto's Jennifer Corriero (TakingITGlobal) who has an impressive list of ways her projects have led to amazing impact around the world. She has used the tools to create positive world change and I was bowled over by her passion and dedication. She listed 6 archetypes of people who are active in the social change sphere:

  1. The Dreamer - people who think big and imagine a better world.
  2. The Megaphone - those who take those dreams and act as wonderful promoters of these ideas.
  3. The Spark Plug - highly enthusiastic carriers of that message.
  4. The Task Master - people who take those messages and put them into executable plans.
  5. The Sherpa - all of those who are happy to pitch in however they can to make the dreams come to bear.
  6. The Storyteller - those that spread the word that change is happening (or has happened) far and wide.

I was very proud to see another Canadian woman entrepreneur (and a social one at that!) on the stage.

So, all in all, I'm not eating my words from this morning (yet), but I was very impressed on the quality of the talks in the afternoon and how far removed they are from towing the same old company line. Looking forward to tomorrow.



No comment Is this Le Web or Le Clique?

I was taught that if I can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. This applies to my official blogger position at Le Web 09 thusfar. I can be constructive about this.

One of the reasons I left Silicon Valley area this summer and moved to Montreal is because of the growing sadness I felt for the 'web' industry living there. First, let me say this: I was surrounded by some fan-frickin-tastic people. People with heart and soul who were excited about the future of technology, are building the future of technology and daily take personal risks to change the world for the better. But I was also surrounded by a group made up of people who weren't incredibly positive, who threw their power positions around to feed their own egos (and keep their power) and were more focused on being famous/recognized/etc than they were on making the web a better place.

And the group of negative people got me down. Daily. I did my best to ignore them and do good work, but the truth is that my faith was being shaken by the fact that the worse their behaviour, the more they were rewarded and, it seemed, nobody could speak up to stop it. Anyone that did would be locked out of the cartel that exists. Whether it was a woman I know who refused to go on a date with a prominent blogger and was told that because of this, she would never have her startup reviewed; or the person who questioned the bias of another blogger who was then locked out of every future event that blogger was connected to. And the power grew and people grew more afraid to speak out.

That didn't feel like the community I fell in love with so many years ago. It felt a great deal like the world we were supposed to be changing. In essence, the worst parts of the offline world - with it's hierarchies, gatekeepers and power mongers - were becoming firmly entrenched in the new media that was supposed to circumvent this behaviour and create a new frontier. I was losing faith. And that is the last thing I want to do. There is so much hope left in the world. I still believe the good guys/gals will finish first.

But here at Le Web 09, I feel like I'm staring that ugliness right in the eye. The program is mostly made up of the members and sycophants of the cartel mentioned above. It's only the morning of the first day and a big part of it has been filled with egos and posturing. I was really hoping that Le Web would actually be about 'The Web' - where it's going, where it should go, how do we drive it in positive directions, the diversity of issues that we are still facing that are creating challenges for web-citizens, really ground breaking technology, visionary people and how we can all get involved in this change - but it isn't. It is about a small group of friends and how they use/benefit from the web: Le Clique.

I will continue to stick around because there ARE a few bright spots coming up: danah boyd, Kevin Marks, Violet Blue and a handful of others who are sure to talk about brave new worlds and not use their time onstage to kiss up to the cartel. And I will report on their talks as well as others that I hope will really change my mind and restore my faith.