The Australia-Davos Connection 2007 Future Summit kicked off at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt this morning and there’ll be a lively 90 minute workshop this afternoon on Web 2.0 which is described thus:

The rising popularity of user-driven online services including myspace, Wikipedia and YouTube, has drawn attention to a group of technological developments known as Web 2.0. These technologies, relying on user collaboration, include Web services, peer-to-peer networking, blogs, podcasts and online social networks.

What is the impact of Web 2.0? What does it mean that the Internet has gone from a source of information to being a source of community? What are the commercial and community benefits of Web 2.0? How will power and influence be distributed and created in the new networked society? Will the old forms of power disappear or will they be transformed? Will politics be affected?

The panelists include Google’s Australasian communications boss Rob Shilkin, former Silicon Graphics CEO Bob Bishop, Roy Morgan CEO Michelle Levine, Deloitte Digital partner Peter Williams and yours truly, the resident IT luddite.

There’s no doubt about the political impact of Web 2.0, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s myspace page, UK Labour’s Youtube channel and Hillary Clinton’s web announcement of her presidential candidacy.

But what about the commercial implications for Australian business? Whilst Rupert Murdoch already appears to have made billions with the purchase of Myspace, the News Corp internet division still failed to crack a mention in last week’s third quarter earnings release.

That said, the $US580 million purchase in July 2005 looks to be a beauty as Myspace has grown from 17 million unique monthly users to more than 100 million in less than two years.

However, the fact remains that Australia remains pretty hopeless when it comes to building commercial value from Web 2.0 and IT generally as this Google opinion piece in The Australian last week pointed out.

Ever rare successes such as Hitwise have now been sold offshore and we tragically don’t have a single IT company in the top 100. That said, Australians are flocking to the social networking and personal disclosure elements of Web 2.0 with great gusto, despite the joke that is our slow broadband and questions that remain about copyright issues.

If anyone has any last minute thoughts on this topic, drop us an email to [email protected].

Peter Fray

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