While two reporters staked out news at the Web 2.0 Summit today, a few of us snuck off to other venues. There's no question that Stefanie Olsen got the juiciest assignment, hanging out at the Wine 2.0 gathering, checking out the in-home winemaking gizmo called the WinePod and tasting the fruits of Crushpad, a "virtual vineyard." This really is way cooler than any social network or Ajax-y what-have-you. I also covered Crushpad in 2005.
The focus of this gathering was "social media," and I talked with a few entrepreneurs working on projects with very interesting social agendas. For example, Urban Logic's Bruce Cahan is working on the "Means Meter," a service that will let you point your camera phone at the bar code of a product on a store shelf, and then tell you if it's made in a way that matches your values. For example, if the company that makes the product exploits overseas child labor or is made using environmentally unfriendly methods (if those are things you care about), you'd be directed to another product. It sounds like a cool idea, and the core technology exists: There's ScanBuy for reading bar codes and the Alonovo system for matching values with products.
Then there's HealthXY's Mepath, which has the ambitious goal of creating publicly-run drug trials, of a sort: CEO James Littlejohn told me he wants to create a system that allows medication users--for example, allergy sufferers--to compare their experiences. The ultimate goal is to correlate this information with various biometric data, such as individuals' genomes; sell this to the big pharma companies; and pay the people who are contributing for their slice of the data--all while establishing social networks so that people can find others with symptoms and experiences similar to theirs. See also: MyDecide, a personal decision making service that's also in very early testing, and the Experience Project, which I covered two months ago.