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O'Reilly Web 2.0 Kung-Fu anyone?

I can't share a dime of sympathy for any of those flameboys who spotted and sized that nice opportunity to call Tim an ** or something. (I thought about the difference it would have made overall if every commentor mentioning the words "O'Reilly boykott" would have presented her reasoning in a calm and constructive way. Yep, I think *that* would have made a real difference ... but probably I'm just dreaming ;)

But on the other hand I think Tim's pretty right that the heat of the flames express something about how important O'Reilly is to the movement, or how much hope or trust or whatever people put into the idea that there might be *someone*, finally, getting it and doing it better than Bill-the-evil.

From that perspective I don't really get why/how Tim is disappointed about all "the vitriol" or why/how this could have shaken his "faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere". While such disappointment is pretty sure understandable, it's been a simple and expectable reaction - and there's been more than one "faux pas" regarding this both-business-and-ideals-related story.

I don't buy these idologic concerns about O'Reilly's now "owning" the term "Web 2.0" (and preparing to sue everybody who's gonna use it) at all. Seems kind of childish to me. A trademark is a trademark and has a clear and simple purpose. It's nothing more than a tool to get a job done. Of course it's right that it's possible to abuse a trademark when you have the bugdet to set a staff of lawyers on it. But that doesn't mean that there's anything bad about that tool or just everybody who uses it at all.

As long as just anybody at O'Reilly has preserved a minimum of sense and reasoning, they'll not use this trademark in another way than to protect the idea - because that's not only what Tim is (believed to be) committed to but it's also what they are making their money with. The brand O'Reilly is way too closely connected to ideas of Web 2.0, OpenSource and the like.

On the other hand I'm asking myself what I would do when I was in that position.

O'Reillys unique selling point is about belonging to "the good", much of the Web 2.0 movement is about that. Google, Yahoo and Amazon struggled here and I don't think that O'Reilly wants that "ugly smell" in their brand and public perception.

So why *not* rebrand the conference?

"O'Reilly Web 2.0 Conference" seems to be a far better choice of a mark anyway. So why not use the power of the moment and grant it to the community? While rebranding their own conference O'Reilly could publicly throw their old trademark on the table to entirely support the Web 2.0 movement - by disallowing the "evil" players to further dillute the idea and meme and at the same time encouraging grassroot "conferences".

Errm ... conferences like the IT@Cork Web 2.0 conference, probably?

Why not?

Even if O'Reilly decides to not rebrand their conference, they could chose this option to publicly emphasize that their commitment is real - at least partially, because everybody who's making money with bride and moral ideas will always be suspicious to primary aim for the money and not the ideas.

Tim could even consider to schedule a guest appearance or even a session at the IT@Cork conference - probably to publicly disclose some joint project or another name for the IT@Cork conference in the next year that both parties have agreed on or something like that.

Tom (IT@Cork) has yet actually used the whole story in a really Web 2.0ish way to promote and kick their conference. People are even selling their domain at EBay to spend the money to IT@Cork.

O'Reilly could do the same this way. Some kung fu or ninja metaphors about using the opponent's power for the own movements spring to mind ;)


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