The most trenchant observation at the Web 2.0 Expo came from Dan Lyons, the Forbes editor better known as Fake Steve Jobs.
"Facebook is like Webkinz for adults," quipped Lyons in his keynote address. "It's the biggest waste of time ever invented."I was all set to dislike Lyons, perhaps anticipating that he shared the arrogance of his Fake Steve Jobs character. But he was just too funny. Granted, you have to enjoy snarky, disrespectful insider humor. But I found Lyons' remarks were more illuminating than many of the more serious presentations at the conference.
A slide Lyons showed depicted Apple's approach to PR: A woman atop a prison guard tower armed with a rifle. Lyons identified her as Katie Cotton, Apple's worldwide head of communications.
Any journalist who has covered Apple understands how close that is to the truth: Apple manages its message with the thoroughness of propagandists in North Korea. (Ever wonder why there are no videos of Steve Jobs dancing in the style of Steve Ballmer?)
There was one particularly provocative joke: After two days of reassurance at the expo about how much further Web 2.0 had to go, Lyons gleefully skewered the new dot-com bubble.
It would have been easier to chuckle had John Battelle on Thursday not cited a Marc Andreessen blog post expressing happiness about recent funding for Andreessen's Ning.com in light of "the coming nuclear winter."
If there is a bubble and it really does pop (has it already?), I wonder whether Fake Steve Jobs will still seem as funny.