For the past week or so, the weather in Nashville has been perfect. Achingly perfect. Vivid and full of spring color like that photo of the flowers I took a few days ago while walking along the Harpeth River Greenway. When it is that beautiful, it is hard to conjure up the darkness necessary to understand why Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble are longing for the good old days when everyone who had a weblog moved to Silicon Valley so they could hang out on Michael’s patio every Friday night. Frankly, it is so beautiful in Nashville these days, that I had to stop reading both their posts a sentence or two into them.
I think their gloom has something to do with the fact that no one they know seems to be talking about anything other than the transactions and business of Web 2.0 (note to Mike and Robert: that’s what happens when you blog ’round the clock about Web 2.0 transactions). They seem to be suggesting that, after “the bust,” back when no-one would fund or buy anything, there was this golden-age when all the charlatans moved away from Silicon Valley and it was left to the true-geeks who did stuff because it was cool, not because of how much money they could make. According to this Web 2.0 creation myth (thanks, Gabe), all the charlatans are now back in town and it takes the Moscone Center to handle all the people who want to pitch Michael on some goofy startup idea — and that sucks.
At least, that’s what I think they are saying before I shut down my computer to have lunch with a friend. Fortunately, in Nashville I get to go to restaurants where all the waiters are budding musicians, not budding Web 2.0 entrepreneurs. In Nashville, I get to talk with people about the weather — have I mentioned how beautiful it is? — and not Ruby on Rails.
One last thought on this topic before I head home to check out the tomatoes I planted recently: One of the really cool things about having a blog and being rather prolific in posting to it is this: When you start reading things about web-venture booms and busts and how people are obsessed with the “money” thing and not the “idea” thing, not only can you recall previously having lived through such a cycle, you can actually go back and read what you wrote when you lived through it. Dave Winer can remember the booms and busts and what he was writing at the time. Kara Swisher was writing during previous booms and busts, so she can recall with ease how jaded one becomes when everyone you know becomes a web entrepreneur.
What shocks me, however, is that I, a non-resident of Silicon Valley who lives in such a middle-America-sounding place as Nashville, can point back to a post on this weblog written on December 27, 2000 that had the heading, “Dot.com crash, enough already.”
Okay, remember, I wrote the following in late December, 2000, when it was hard to find any optimism about the future of the web:
At some point in the near future…we (will) conclude that it is not significant to our lives anymore that dumb businesses managed by dumb individuals and funded by dumb investors die. Even smart businesses managed by smart individuals and smart investors die. Businesses start and die every day. They always have. They always will. I am old enough – and have been fortunate enough – to have succeeded significantly and failed miserably and frankly, the failures have done more for me than the successes.
The real impact of the Internet will come when coverage shifts from “the deal flow” onto “the idea flow”…The roller-coaster of explosive hype, a disillusioning trough of despair and the underestimation of (a) technology’s positive longterm impact can be seen playing out as the marketplace and media and beleaguered participants try to make sense of the current ‘crash-meltdown-depression.’ As tiresome as the over-hyped ‘boom’ story was, the (‘bust’) story is long due for a correction. Let’s move on.
I guess my advice is still the same. Let’s move on. But not before we stop, take a walk along a greenway and smell the flowers.