Though I was not in attendance at this year' Web 2.0 Summit in sunny San Francisco, most of the content is available online for anybody to check out (I love how efficiently information disseminates when you put on a convention chock full of web 2.0 nuts). Featuring some highly influential speakers including Al Gore, Mark Zuckerberg, and Arianna Huffington, this year's theme was "Web Meets World" — most of the speakers' presentations at least loosely touched upon this broad and interpretive topic. I found messages presented at the summit ranging from redundant to insightful, and I would like to present some of the highlights through a series of scrutinal blog posts. Who said what and what does that mean for 2009? You can check out the content from the summit here.

First up on my lineup is Mr. Gore, a fitting highlight considering that we've decided to track his coverage in our ImpactWatch demo on renewable energy sources. Despite a fleeting accusation of claiming to have invented the internet during the 2000 election, Al Gore has indeed worked closely in developing internet technologies as an economic growth medium, a tool for information distribution, and as an educational tool. Check out this Wikipedia article that highlights some of his IT-related accomplishments to date.

In his speech, expert panel, and Q&A session Mr. Gore focused on the democratization of media, and the need to explicitly define a purpose for web 2.0 technology. "We have everything we need to save it, and in the process create millions of new jobs, reduce our national security exposure, and solve the climate crisis," Gore claims, however, "Barack Obama's election would have been impossible without the new dialogue and new ways of interacting on the Web; the only way this is going to be solved is by addressing the democracy crisis."

I'm not sure that I agree that web 2.0 is static to the point of definition. There is an incredible variety of ways to use web 2.0, for better or for worse. Is there a potential tipping point at which web 2.0 could hinder democracy? Todd Zeigler of our own Bivings Report has already examined in detail the role of web 2.0 tools in the recent election. Does web 2.0 truly make you feel more empowered, more personally involved in our democratic process? Or is it just a fancy facet of the same old ways of doing things? Your thoughts in the comments, please.