I’m not going to lie. I genuinely enjoy playing with many of the Web 2.0 efforts that spring up (and they spring up just about every day these days). I think there’s a great vibe out there where good clean design is blended with some great (sometimes heroic) web application building. I’m a big fan of RSS, the elegant use of technologies like AJAX & Flash, and I think there’s a lot of potential in the whole “social” angle of software (e.g. Digg & del.icio.us).
But how much of the stuff I try do I keep using? And by “using,” I don’t mean for the purposes of trying out or checking out how someone else approached a thorny interaction design issue. I mean using as an actual tool in my everyday life.
I thought further about this after playing with 30boxes. It’s a new calendaring tool and I’ll readily admit: it’s about as good an execution of the Web 2.0 philosophy as I’ve seen. Good, judicious use of Ajax. Low barrier to entry and use. Elegant design. And so on.
It turns out I’ll probably never use it again. Ever. Of course, I may be the exception. I sincerely doubt it though. I can go into why I don’t need this tool in my life, but that’s not really the point of this post. Here’s the gist of it:
This chart lays out the web 2.0 applications that survive and actually end up a part of my regular usage. I’ve probably tried more than 70 but I think the chart gets the point across. In the end, I’ve got a portal (Netvibes), centralized bookmarking (del.icio.us), and a few other sites I just enjoy visiting frequently (e.g. Digg).
As technologists and people inside this world, we can lose sight of what really makes a difference such that people will shift their lives and habits to work with something. We can easily get caught up in how cool something is and lose sight of what we’re all really going after: something attaches itself to people’s lives. Has an application like del.icio.us, an unequivocal Web 2.0 success story, really “broken out?” I’d argue that, beyond our own world, it really hasn’t. Some of the barriers are conceptual. I often find myself scratching my head as I click around a new offering (this happened with Newsvine), trying to look past the cool factor and attempting to digest why I should personally invest in it.