Sydney BarCamp calls on businesses to go social

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Sydney BarCamp calls on businesses to go social

Social networks, web 3.0 and e-business were the key topics at this weekend’s BarCamp Sydney, an open conference for the IT industry.

Over 200 people attended the “freeform” conference, where the audience is invited to give speeches on the topics of their choosing.

Social networking was a recurring theme in the weekend talks. Entrepreneur Elias Bizannes criticised businesses for failing to understand the importance of social networks.

“Social networking isn’t a business model; it’s a feature,” Bizannes said. “All business products will need to incorporate that idea. So if you run a website, you’ll need to understand the way your customers interact with your site and each other.”

Mick Liubinskas, a developer, was more concerned about the monetisation of social websites.

“We went to a conference for advertisers and all they talked about is how to get on social networks. But people will find somewhere to run to next, to avoid over-marketing,” he said.

BarCamp itself utilised social networking tools to help plan the conference: participants contacted one another through social site Twitter and the conference’s open wiki.

Web 3.0 was also a key topic for participants.

“The concept of Web 2.0 is a dynamic, user-driven mesh of technologies,” said co-founder Bart Jellema. “So what will happen in the next generation?”

Jellema suggested that Web 3.0 would be completely data-driven.

“Data will be the key. There will be independence from platforms, devices and the internet. Users might be able to collaboratively design websites and applications. The barriers between applications will begin to break down as portability between applications increases.”

Others were more cynical; quipped an audience member, “The difference between Web 1.0 and 2.0 is how much your IPO is worth. Where’s the money in user-driven content?”

Business owners used the conference to discuss innovation around their own products.

“How can we make our online shopping a fun experience for consumers?” asked Dilip Rao, managing director of Paymate, while others spoke about the problems associated with start-up e-businesses.

"Australia is only beginning to get a good start-up culture," said GoodBarry developer Brett Walsh. "The industry is so much bigger overseas and we just seem to be starting here."

Walsh said that Melbourne had a better environment for web entrepreneurs than Sydney and said that Australia would need to “push the envelope” if it wanted to keep up with countries like the United States.

BarCamp conferences are held around the world. The next Australian BarCamp Conference will be held on Saturday 19 April at Australian National University, Canberra.
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