Let’s Waste a Few Days And Sit Around To Try To Define “Web 2.0”

The noise level on the “What is Web 2.0” discussion has, at least in my mind, officially passed the threshold into the purely academic and potentially ridiculous.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • Depending on who’s using the term, you could be talking about the Web as a platform for applications, a philosophy in building and designing Web applications, a group of powerful Web technologies, and much more.”
  • “The Come To Me Web”
  •  “Web 2.0 is ‘what I want the Web to become’”
  •  “…a “collection of technologies – be it VoIP, Digital Media, XML, RSS, Google Maps… whatever …. that leverage the power of always on, high speed connections and treat broadband as a platform, and not just a pipe to connect.”

There are more (many more) but I’ll spare you. Today, Web 2.0 is a fun little label that the “technology thinkers” are enjoying these days. For me, all this discussion about what it really means leaves me with one true meaning: it means nothing. More importantly, it means nothing to anyone else.

None of these trends and technologies mean much of anything until they’re introduced to the world in a tangible and useful context. Good technology does not advertise itself. It simply makes things better without getting in the way. As technophiles, we tend to lose sight of this. The most popular tags on del.icio.us (a “Web 2.0” destination) are about technology. It’s great to see the tech community becoming richer, but let’s face reality – the old couple next door could care less about your Web 2.0.

Of course, once the technologists are done with “Web 2.0” and created enough buzz, the marketers, public relations people and their minions will take it and run – using it and abusing it to create a message that has little to do with whatever Web 2.0 was supposed to mean to begin with.

So let’s stop wasting our time on theory and philosophy and start thinking about how this stuff is going to change the world – the rest of the world that is.

 

5 Comments Let’s Waste a Few Days And Sit Around To Try To Define “Web 2.0”

  1. Ken

    That is the whole point of having the discussion. It is important to be able to communicate the ideas behind Web 2.0 to ‘the old couple next door’. It is one thing to say Web 2.0 is blogs, RSS, wikis, podcasts, social networking, or any other number of keywords and concepts and quite another to simply state, “Web 2.0…is using services on the Web.”
    Your point, “Good technology does not advertise itself. It simply makes things better without getting in the way.” is a good one. Web 2.0 is not just one technology though…and that is why people are spending so much time talking about it. They are trying to figure out exactly what it is.

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  2. Cort

    To describe a conference subject as Web 2.0 is fine. To look for worthwhile trends is fine. To start defining a group of trends that you see as a unified revolutionary emerging meme is egotistical and rediculous.
    A few years ago the local Borders Bookstore had 8 shelves of computer books, today there are 4. The meme is that in capitalistic societies, people respond to something like this by sensationalizing something new. The vaguer the better.
    Web 2.0 isn’t going to solve desertization in Africa, negotiate peace in the Middle East, cure Cancer, Aids, or Parkinson’s, feed the starving or remove George Bush from power.
    But it will help people find meaning in their work. Some large, grandiose, and yet hard to pin down trend, with revolutionary consequences (of some kind). You can be a part of it too! A part of the history books! The emerging trend! Find the Meme! Find the Meme!

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  3. Ken

    Richard-
    I think Web 2.0 already has tangible solutions. If we accept a more technical definition of Web 2.0 as being “the web as platform”, then surely blogs fall into that category. Intelligent, bright, savvy and yet non-technical people use blogging software to create, edit, and pubish content to the web – all from within their web browser. Previously, these types of people could read the informaton of the “Information Age”. Now, they can actually make their own contributions.
    Still, we cannot say that Web 2.0 means “blogs”. Blogs are part of Web 2.0, as are other technologies. This goes back to my original point – “to figure out exactly what [Web 2.0] is.”

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