As I type this, I am returning from Le Web 3 in Paris. What started out as a small blogging conference organized by Six Apart to help connect bloggers throughout Europe (Les Blog), has in three short years become a massive international gathering of entrepreneurs, journalists, executives, investors and now politicians, all focused upon the power of the Internet to transform markets, economies, and governments. Like the vastly oversubscribed Web 2.0 conference a month ago, Le Web was standing room only. Registration closed at 1,000 attendees from 38 countries, with many more hoping, begging to get in. Add 180 traditional journalists -- print, radio and television -- and you have more than a conference, you have a phenomenon.
The content of Le Web mirrored that of Web 2.0 in many ways. There were discussions of the powers of communities, the emergence of online games as virtual economies, Dave Sifry's "State of the Blogsphere." And, of course, the obligatory debate as to whether Europe can compete with Silicon Valley as fertile ground for growing web companies (a fraction of the crowd voted on the proposition by SMS, giving the nod to Europe by a margin of two to one). Like Web 2.0, the lobby of Le Web was bustling with entrepreneurs anxious to show off their fledgling services to journalists and investors alike. And like Web 2.0 before it, I left Le Web with a heightened sense of optimism about the ever increasing capacity of entrepreneurs to harness the power of the Internet for the betterment of the world. Does it sound hyperbolic? You bet. Do I believe it? You bet. After talking with entrepreneurs from throughout the world, it is clear to me that the Internet is the transformative force in world economies today and will remain so for the foreseeable future.