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Al Gore Weighs in on Web 2.0

SAN FRANCISCO - Former Vice President Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, but he definitely has some thoughts on how it should evolve. Speaking at the wrap up session at the Web 2.0 Summit here Friday, Gore compared the Web to a new puppy that needs a purpose.

"The purpose I would urge as many of you willing to take it up, is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our relationship to this planet and the imminent danger and opportunity we face because of the radical transformation of the relationship between human beings and the Earth," he said to a packed hall of entrepreneurs, Web developers and entrepreneurs.

"We have everything we need to save it and in the process create millions of new jobs and reduce our exposure to a sudden shut off of oil and solve the climate crisis."

The former Presidential candidate spoke at length about the environment and developments on the Internet and the key role he said the Web played in Barack Obama's election.

Progam Chair John Battelle asked Gore if he'd be interested in developing a movie focused on where the Web should be headed, similar in concept to An Inconvenient Truth, the movie based on Gore's slide show presentation on the environmental risks facing the planet.

"An Inconvenient Truth for Web 2.0, will you make that film?" asked Program Chair John Battelle? Gore seemed confused by the question, paused for effect, then quipped, "Oh, okay."

While his response seemed to indicate he, in fact, has little interest in such a project, Gore did give his opinion of the state of the Web today and where he thinks more needs to be done.

Many possibilities beyond today's Web

"When people are displaying interactivity or user generated content kind of gee whiz stuff . I'm not trying to diminish it at all, but it's easy to get enamored. We have to move past that to a time where all those features are taken for granted like the water the fish doesn't think about is there," he said.

Gore predicted the Web is poised to take another leap in innovation as today's users get more comfortable with Web services, and it's more a primary context for a new generation of users. He discussed rapid advances in Web and mobile technology and the explosion of original content generated by such companies as Current TV - a venture he started with Joel Hyatt, that encourages audience participation in video programming.

He said the Web has opened many possibilities beyond the one-way distribution of information represented by television. "I do think it's worth looking at the advantages of re-architecting the context of where activities take place, said Gore. "A 'World 2.0' where there's no timidity about trying new things."

Gore received a standing ovation both when he walked out on stage and when he finished his presentation and Q&A session with the event's producers and audience members.