In 2004, O'Reilly Media played host to a series of conferences which birthed a notion that forever changed the way we think about the online space. Scribbled on a piece of paper and taped to a door, the topic for discussion read: "Web 2.0".
The result? Talks that have continued to inspire the web, the marketing and, most recently, the advertising worlds. Revolving around companies such as Google, Amazon, eBay and more, the seeds of Web 2.0 were sown on the core principles of the aforementioned "dotcoms," which grew, survived and even thrived through the bubble burst of the late 1990s.
Some of the notions which were captured are summarized below.
1. is an attitude not a technology.
2. incorporates the notions of "the Long Tail."
3. realizes the content is the brand.
4. is in a state of "perpetual beta".
5. supports software which gets better the more people use it.
6. often grants the right to remix with "some rights reserved".
7. tries to provide the feeling of "play".
8. allows granular addressability of content.
9. is emergent; user behaviour is not predetermined.
10. offers a rich user experience.
11. trusts the user (radical!).
Perpetual beta suggests that these principles, and all those that may follow, are simply extensions of the original notion. In other words, Web 2.0 does not mark a place in time, pre- or post- bubble; instead it simply offers a label for these proven principles and encourages exploration from there.
To suggest that your company offers or sells "Web 2.0" products or services may be technically true, but it sounds terribly naïve. In effect, you're simply announcing that you build web properties that work. Shouldn't that be a given? Could you imagine a car dealer selling a car by saying, "now with engines that run!"
To sell "Web 2.0" as a product suggests there was a "Web 1.0." To say a website is "Web 1.0" is like saying that product is failed or doomed to. So, if you sell "Web 2.0" as a service, are you suggesting to your client that he/she may opt out for the Web 1.0 version?
This brings us to Web 2.1, Web 2.5, Web 3.0 and all the ridiculous version numbers people are tossing around nowadays. I wish these principles were never labeled Web 2.0 because it implies (without further understanding) that there can be a Web 3.0. A property that is in "perpetual beta" does not allow for "versioning". If only that note scribbled at O'Reilly's conference read "Web That Works" or "Social Media" or "Schicki-micki" or anything to prevent the name from being harvested and exploited by misinformed marketers as is being done today.
This basic misunderstanding has led to many headaches for those trying to develop web properties that work. Lacking a workable lexicon, it's difficult to get the concept past two very dangerous audiences:
- The first audience has no clue what Web 2.0 means, often rejecting the concept as "too risky". (Creating websites that will actually work is "too risky"?)
- The second audience understands exactly what Web 2.0 means, but dislike the term because the first audience has bastardised it - and who can blame them?
Since schicki-micki is too hard to spell anyway, I propose we move on from the designation of Web 2.0 (and thereby eliminating its unfounded sequel Web 3.0), and stick to a common term like "internet," or websites that "work". If you continue to insist on utilizing a new term, consider "social media".