Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why 2.0 Sucks

Do you sense a growing frustration across the 2.0scape?

Good - it should very much be there.

Why? Because we're not solving real problems anymore. The economy has massive structural flaws. 2.0 can fix them.

But focusing on ad nets and minigames sure won't - and we'll just spiral into more and more navel-gazing, name-calling, and frustration.

Would it help if I did a post about industries that need to be revolutionized?

-- umair // 2:53 PM // 25 comments


I did such a post already - on my blog - back in February.

Think of Zipcar - but without the centralized ownership of the cars... see full post at:
// Blogger Emil Sotirov // 3:10 PM

2.0 was simply the darwining evolution of UI/cloud computing interfaces. That is where the frustration comes from by trying to dress technology up as a business.

What really needs to happen is the application of 2.0 to existing methods of business as well as prompting the rise of products/services that have never existing before. Which is probably what you are referring to.
// Blogger Simon Cast // 3:11 PM

Another social network, another video sharing site. The VC's, especially on Sand Hill, but all of 'em really, havent a clue. 2008 will be a blood bath.

These investors has every chance to thoughfully invest in the best newer 2.0 style tools for real productivity - instead, many of these startups had to bootstrap - not a bad thing by the reckoning of a few new age bootstrap bloggers.

The very existence of these new bootstrapping media outlets means that more than few decent ventures got the cold, cold shoulder of the VC's - while the selfsame VC's plowed, and I do mean plowed, cake into clone startups of YASN and YAVSS.

Some of these Bay area VC's handed cake to known 'silicon valley undertakers' - dudes and gals that have burned down multiple ventures that never showed the slightest gain. Why are they doing this?

They are their friends - their sister or mother or dad or some such gets jobs with these startups. They direct that some of these portfilio companies use services from other portfolio members, family member businesses, or the like.

Even Fred can get bamboozled - a modest, smart, analytical VC - a rare anomaly in the biz.

OpenID is not working on this site.
// Blogger bizQuirk // 3:13 PM

You should just do this...I think it would be fun (re: decrepit industry brainstorm).

The sad thing is that even the low-hanging fruit (music, etc) haven't been fully reinvented yet.
// Blogger Ethan Bauley // 4:11 PM

The noise obviously outweighs the signals. Everyone has a voice, and everyone can be heard. So the frustration is natural.

But people can only be noisy for as long as they have the lung-power.
I believe that one of the big redeeming factors in the 2.0 world is that while it's easy to produce, it takes gut to sustain(revenues, attention, credibility, authority).

So given that we're just starting out, be interesting to see how many mini-games and ad nets last.

I'd love to see your post on industries that need recalibration.
But I'm also curious about your thoughts on human interaction with these re-calibrated industries.

Specifically, I'd be grateful for insight into the real structural flaws(what they are and how they inhibit us) VS. the re-calibrated structures(what they'll look like conceptually and how they benefit us).

Actually, the hell with the current flaws....tell me what the future will be like. :)
// Blogger preetam // 4:32 PM

yes it would.

Would be great if your broke your mold a little and added the "how" this time.

Some of us a keen to help, but don't have the $$$ for your insight.

Point us in the right direction
// Anonymous jcob // 5:17 PM

> Would it help if I did a post about industries that need to be revolutionized?

Well, according to the thesis of this post, no, it wouldn't help at all :)
// OpenID tsieling // 5:19 PM

Would love to hear your thoughts on this "frustration". What I can't understand is why the connection between new/hyped and value never seem to meet naturally (in most cases)?
// Anonymous Mattias // 5:27 PM

An emphatic YES! It would absolutely help. We are still waiting to hear about Etsy and how it could be the next Google...and about PayPal and how a better model could be created to compete with them...and anything else for that matter. You are one of the most insightful and creative economists I have ever run across and information like that would be akin to cool water to people dying of thirst! Postings like that from you can not come too soon.
// Blogger Joseph // 6:34 PM

A plethora of social s/w tools delivering functional characteristics (conversation, groups, presence etc) does not mean real value creation is not at a premium any more (one big digital photocopying machine as KK put it). Real value is STILL at a premium. you still need to build real strategic capital. 2.0 still needs to be creative
// Anonymous Ray // 10:42 PM

I'm not so sure I get most of the comments on this post. What I think Umair is talking about is big important stuff.

*We* all are the problem.

None of us leaving comments today is thing about the big ideas, the important ideas.

But Umair has already told us: via

"But a huge part of the problem is entrepreneurs. The current crop of entrepreneurs just isn't thinking big enough.

There are no shortage of massive problems next-gen media plays can help solve. Global hunger? Check. Healthcare? Check. Moral hazard across the financial system? Check. The loss of social cohesion? Check. The massive shift of global labour from town to megaslum? Check. Exploding demand for energy? Check."

So yeah, Umair, to answer your question, I think it would help to discuss industries that need to be revolutionized. I think that message needs to be driven home until it sinks in.
// Anonymous Jim Parker // 12:52 AM

Jim: I totally agree...

It seems to me that a lot of domain-specific intelligence is needed to start hacking problems like moral hazard in high finance and healthcare...

I'd like to hear from more M.D.'s thinking entrepreneurially about new health care value chains, or ways to organize the beaureacracy, or whatever.

Of course, if my [cursory] reading of Hagel is right, it's also that the industries tangential ("at the edge of") to said problem areas can move in laterally and shake things up...

(Like how AAPL moved into an adjacent consumer electronics market, phones, to blow apart the carrier value chain)

[just some thoughts fwiw]

"Media" investing/entrepreneurship is to fun for its own good...this whole "The Web is taking over the Mediascape" has people freaked out about the glamour aspect...
// Blogger Ethan Bauley // 1:06 AM

As far as the U.S. goes I think the real potential revolution on the web is in education.Imagine doing to debt-based education what file sharing did to the recording industry. Knock down the door and make it free.
// Blogger one // 5:50 AM

agreed. Do it Umair.
Entrepreneurs often focus on the superficial which i believe betrays a lack of moral maturity. As you say constantly in your posts, openness, do good. So lay it out by industry. At least so that some people can pick up some ideas an run with them to benefit all. Perhaps you could also talk about open source as a part of any strategy, as in code-base or shared
practise between peers.
// Anonymous james // 9:51 AM

// Anonymous Nnamdi // 11:07 AM

yes, please!
// Blogger Jonathan // 12:36 PM

Maybe the beauty of Umair's posts is the lack of specificity.

Maybe the posts mean more to the individual because it's up to him/her to figure out how to apply your thinking to his/her environment?

Also (possibly) it's easier for Umair to write and write often when he does not have to apply his thoughts to specific problems/industries?
// Anonymous rick // 4:05 PM


I agree. I've gotten much more from this quasi-socratic/obfuscation style than I would have otherwise...I studied those powerpoints and archives HARD to figure this shit out ;-)

[and i certainly don't have it all but i understand the practical apps of the concepts]

It's nice that the opaque nature of Umair's posts keep out the riffraff, too.

But at the same time, it's like...let's have some BIG fun ;-)

I dunno...could go either way frankly.
// Blogger Ethan Bauley // 4:26 PM

Too many start-ups are led by young male privileged techies... they build what seems cool to them... so the world is blessed with countless 2.0 ways to rate music, find bars, and watch inane video clips.

We need more people of varied life experience in the start-up realm, solving real problems. It shouldn't be about the tool, rather the solution.

Here are 20 powerful projects from across the U.S. competing for seed capital from Steve Case (AOL) via public online vote.
// Blogger michael // 6:12 PM

I am yet to understand why people keep asking Umair for the answers?

Mate, WE are the edge. WE are the community. WE are the ones who can turn it into something we have never seen before.

Asking Umair for all the answers is great, but to do so would be missing the oppurtunity we have here.

We have been given an incredible plastic framework - it's time to start using it.

BTW - One, your post pretty much melted my brain. I had never thought about it like that. Awesome.
// Blogger Pana // 12:34 AM

Pana, I agree...the "socratic" style is great, but...

I can only speak for myself when I say...

A little more specificity would give us all a chance to work more "hands on" with umair and the rest of the bgen community. That would be the shit (for me).

For that matter, we can try hacking the "turn edu debt into zero" if you want...just give me a blog post and I'll start commenting ;-)
// Blogger Ethan Bauley // 12:47 AM

I think this is one of the more important posts I have read in sometime.

While I agree with what most are saying about the need for solving the 'big problems,' we need to keep in mind that many these issues are ones that do not offer the traditional returns necessary to justify - from a traditional ROI standpoint - venture investment. And when you have a business that does not generate cash immeidately, you need someone else's money to support near term goals.

It's also important to recognize that many entrepreneurs are in fact attacking the 'big' issues. Unfortunately, these social entrepreneurs get no publicity from tech publishers like Techcrunch and Techmeme who don't see them as sexy.

Also from a contrarian perspective, don't we all need entertainment no matter what the state of the economy? Entertainment, both legal and illegal is probably the largest slice of the US economic pie. So is it that surprising the focus of most new innovations is focused on 'fun'?
// Blogger Sam // 2:46 AM

manufacturing industries don't need 2.0 to save them, more to fine-tune management, human resource, and marketing skills

it is the finance industries, the guys using money to make money, that are in the deepest trouble at this time, and it could be argued that 2.0 has exposed their flaws

it is not the industries that need correcting, it is the basic morality and mindset of the proponents of those industries... we are seeing the result of institutionalized greed in action, and 2.0 is no magic bullet for character or awareness

the edge-economy is a by-product of a finer dispersion of awareness, and information, into the world at large

being able to react to this new reality is the measure of an edge economy enterprise, or the systems of organization

new ones won't come from the old ones, they will simply supersede them
// Blogger gregory // 6:56 AM

I have some ideas and plans on how to improve the consumer electronics repair experience. Hit me up if you want to be an investor.

And in thinking a little bigger, to riff off of the commenter "one" above, I think *teaching education* and critical thinking, above all else, should be a goal for the next generation of children. This way knowledge is no longer locked up in a teacher. When all are required to learn the skills of teaching, a lot of ignorance may end.

For public or VC funding, you need to have business strategies that will pay back investors. Solving world problems is not that sexy. So, perhaps the entrepreneurial crowd can start to look to charities, foundations, and donors. And contrary to popular belief, such companies to not need to be non-profit just becuase they are doing "good," aka solving big world problems.

And to riff off of Sam's comment, maybe Gabe could do a "GreenMeme" site. Maybe the strategy is to leverage the 2.0 sexiness into social entrepreneurship. I think some of the sexiness of 2.0 lies in fame and cool tools, not just in the wealth that is generated but founders and VCs.
// Blogger Nick // 11:33 PM

I would be interested in hearing what industries need to be revolutionized, especially those that can assist in developing countries in Africa.
// Blogger Ismail D // 10:53 PM
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