Le Web. Day one. It started off slowly, but then got better. There was nothing terribly controversial or any ground-breaking announcements. The Twitter and Facebook talks were fairly staid, marked with meaningless platitudes like “our success depends on your success” or there’s a “shift is happening from the static web to the social web”: too much PR and not enough heart… made me want to flee the main conference for the startup sessions.

Later in the afternoon, it got better: Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome delivered a stirring, original and passionate presentation on “community” — and YouTube CEO and founder, Chad Hurley, gave the conference some down-to-earth and interesting insights.

Here are some snippets from day one:

  • Sketch Nation: an iPhone app, yet to be launched, that allows you to create your own shooting games (or “shmups”) using your own graphics.
  • Cookmate: iPhone app that suggests meal options, based on what’s available on your fridge. Genius — I’ll use this.
  • Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey spoke about Square — his new mobile payment system. He had a Bill Gates’ moment though as the demo didn’t work. More here on RRW about Dorsey’s talk.
  • Facebook’s Ethan Beard talking about the fact that 70% of Facebook’s 300m users are now outside the US, as opposed to the other way round when they started. For facebook, it’s not just about connecting people, it’s about connecting people to objects, ideas, companies… everything… to create a “connected lifestyle”. He says “the web is about people”, and we experience it through the lens of our friends. Nice to see him speak… but nothing we haven’t heard of before… felt like PR, not from the heart.
  • Ryan Sarver from Twitter announced that there are now more than 50 000 3rd party registered applications that plug into Twitter. This has grown outrageously from a figure of exactly “1” two years ago. He spoke about Twitter’s philosophy of “radical openess” and about investing in the ecosystem built around it. The big news of course was Sarver announcing that Twitter is opening up its data stream of tweets/firehose to all developers (not just Bing and Google). This will apparently happen sometime in 2010: more here.
  • Michael Arrington, in his segment, immediately tried to stir it up, by (not unexpectedly) putting the boot into MySpace COO Mike Jones, noting that it’s really a two-horse race between Twitter and Facebook… where is Myspace? He also reckoned that Apple treats the development community “like shit” and this in contrast to Twitter, who really looks after the community. I think Apple can and do this because they’re holding all the cards at this stage. You wonder if it’s a good long term strategy though, and this obviously is an angle of attack for Apple competitors.
  • YouTube CEO Chad Hurley spoke tongue-and-cheek about the “downside” of being acquired by Google: he could not disclose his revenues (no matter how much Le Web host Loic Le Meur tried to fish it out of him). He says the big challenge for the future is “discovery”: how to assist users find relevant video content — a problem he says that “goes beyond search”.
  • Tweetmeme founder Nick Halstead then had a little cameo towards the end with an interesting analysis of the conference zeitgeist by pulling out some funny and clever tweets — which I thought was quite a clever conference innovation.
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