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Overanalyzing a Web 2.0 crew's Cyprus vacation

While Wall Street was melting down this week, a bunch of friends went on vacation to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. They enjoyed the sunshine, dined together and uploaded photos and videos, including one of themselves lip-synching to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

Cyprus The group reportedly included several young Turks from the Web 2.0 crowd -- such as Brittany Bohnet of Google, Dave Morin and Aaron Sittig of Facebook and Sam Lessin of Drop.io -- as well as Lessin's girlfriend, Jessica Vascellaro, who covers Internet companies for the Wall Street Journal. They stayed at a house built by Lessin's dad.

The lip-synching video appeared on a website that described the trip this way: "20 world Internet citizens met in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in October of 2008 for a week of reflections on life, love, and the Internet." (The video has since been set to private.)

The vacationers also chronicled their trip (in few words) on Twitter, collecting them on a feed called campcyprus and pointing to photos taken during the vacation. For example, Vascellaro Twittered that she "is living la vida camp cyprus," "won't stop believing" and "is looking forward to getting back to work." (Her most recent tweet, posted a few hours ago, noted that she had "posted a question to her group on WSJ about the impact of the market turmoil on Silicon Valley. Look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.")

So far, Silicon Valley pundits have not been amused by the vacation or even jealous of it. Mostly, they're annoyed.

The online record of the trip was discovered -- and spread widely -- during a week in which venture capitalists told their companies to tighten their belts and horde cash to help them get through the tough times looming, EBay said it would lay off 10% of its employees and tech companies saw their stocks crater even more deeply than the broader market.

So when the video of the bathing suited vacationers was discovered, it quickly became too perfect a symbol of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Or as VentureBeat put it, "Silicon Valley lip-synchs while market burns."

"The video gave me flashbacks to heedless-partying-until-the-bomb-fell attitude before the popping of the Web 1.0 bubble," wrote Kara Swisher at All Things Digital, which is owned by the Wall Street Journal.

"This video will always be associated with the end of Web 2.0," said Michael Arrington at TechCrunch.

Dan Frommer of Silicon Alley Insider said he wasn't sure whether the video was a great example of Web 2.0 tools at their best or a cry for help.

Of course, it's not fair to hold up a video of adults on a vacation they had planned long ago (and presumably paid for themselves) as an example of the end of the roaring bull market. This is no AIG situation, in which the insurance giant's employees were taking a junket to Southern California's swanky St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach while the government was bailing out the company to the tune of $85 billion.

As L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus wrote about the AIG trip, "When the going gets tough, the tough get pedicures."

When it comes to the Web 2.0 crowd, the rest of us can wait for the tough to post evidence of their pedicures online.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: A beach on the island of Cyprus. Credit: Dan.. via Flickr

 
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