Could the Web 2.0 world more productively spend its time?

Dan Lyons thinks that our Web 2.0 crowd is wasting a lot of precious resources, like the minds of our best and brightest.

I'm still laughing as I type this. Dan Lyons is always interesting to read, but sometimes his razor wit lays bare all the silliness of our technology-centric lives.

Take this post from last week criticizing the Web 2.0 bank heist, highlighted by a Scoble-led panel of Web 2.0ers at the MIT Emerging Technology Conference and its quest to find a good Boston restaurant:

My first reaction was that in the greater scheme of things (economy in free fall, war in Iraq, global warming, energy crisis, not to mention the old reliables like cancer and poverty and AIDS, etc.) this challenge of finding a good restaurant seems like a fairly trivial and unimportant problem for our big geek brains to be trying to solve.

If I were funding these guys I might go home scratching my head about what those kids are doing with all of my millions. Maybe there is a point to what they're doing, but honestly, what great problem are these companies trying to solve? Sitting there watching this spectacle - watching these guys unable to simply explain what they do and and how they are going to make a business out of it - it was staggering to think that someone has entrusted these people with very large sums of money. But someone has. I weep for those people.

Oh, come on, Dan! It's not that bad. (OK. Yes it is.) It's bad because so many of our best and brightest are off making cuddly squeeze toys instead of software that will change our lives.

For example, what if these technology entrepreneurs were instead creating boring enterprise software that actually made financial services companies operate more efficiently? Better mitigate risk? It may not be something worthy of cocktail discussion, but enterprise software still matters because it undergirds an ever-increasing share of the world's economy. If P&G's ERP system fails, products don't make it to market. If Orbitz's website fails, people don't see mom and dad for the holidays. And so on.

If enterprise software were perfect, I'd be glad to see these developers off creating shiny baubles to occupy our free time. But it's not. We could use the ease of use and innovation of this consumer web within the enterprise.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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