Where the future is hatched
Is the air surging back into the bubble? Could the long hangover be over? Has the Internet regained its mojo?
Judging from the buzz around the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, this weekend - a Woodstock for geeks - the Web is back in full force.
"It's 1997 all over again," said Hugh Forrest, event director of the festival. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"During the bubble, we got distracted by the prospect of big bucks," said Craig Newmark of San Francisco, founder of the eponymous and ubiquitous Web site Craigslist and a keynote speaker at South by Southwest. "Now it's much better balanced."
That's not to say that the Web is all sweetness and light. Newmark said he'll be talking at the conference with Jimmy Wales, founder of the popular Wikipedia Web site, about "one particular problem we both have: 'information warfare' - specifically, people trying to post fake information on the site."
The return of frothiness does not necessarily mean we're in for a repeat of the mania that swept the original rise of Internet companies, analysts say.
"What you're seeing now is a range of companies focused on business models that work," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director of Jupiter Research.