In 2004, O'Reilly Media played host to a series ofconferences which birthed a notion that forever changed theway we think about the online space. Scribbled on a pieceof paper and taped to a door, the topic for discussionread: "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 andmore, the seeds of Web 2.0 were sown on the core principlesof the aforementioned "dotcoms," which grew, survived andeven thrived through the bubble burst of the late 1990s.
Some of the notions which were captured are summarizedbelow.
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 useit.
6. often grants the right to remix with "some rightsreserved".
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 allthose that may follow, are simply extensions of theoriginal notion. In other words, Web 2.0 does not mark aplace in time, pre- or post- bubble; instead it simplyoffers a label for these proven principles and encouragesexploration from there.
To suggest that your company offers or sells "Web 2.0"products or services may be technically true, but it soundsterribly naïve. In effect, you're simply announcing thatyou build web properties that work. Shouldn't that be agiven? Could you imagine a car dealer selling a car bysaying, "now with engines that run!"
To sell "Web 2.0" as a product suggests there was a "Web1.0." To say a website is "Web 1.0" is like saying thatproduct is failed or doomed to. So, if you sell "Web 2.0"as a service, are you suggesting to your client that he/shemay opt out for the Web 1.0 version?
This brings us to Web 2.1, Web 2.5, Web 3.0 and all theridiculous version numbers people are tossing aroundnowadays. I wish these principles were never labeled Web2.0 because it implies (without further understanding) thatthere can be a Web 3.0. A property that is in "perpetualbeta" does not allow for "versioning". If only that notescribbled at O'Reilly's conference read "Web That Works" or"Social Media" or "Schicki-micki" or anything to preventthe name from being harvested and exploited by misinformedmarketers as is being done today.
This basic misunderstanding has led to many headaches forthose trying to develop web properties that work. Lacking aworkable lexicon, it's difficult to get the concept pasttwo very dangerous audiences:
- The first audience has no clue what Web 2.0 means, oftenrejecting the concept as "too risky". (Creating websitesthat will actually work is "too risky"?)
- The second audience understands exactly what Web 2.0means, but dislike the term because the first audience hasbastardised it - and who can blame them?
Since schicki-micki is too hard to spell anyway, I proposewe move on from the designation of Web 2.0 (and therebyeliminating its unfounded sequel Web 3.0), and stick to acommon term like "internet," or websites that "work". Ifyou continue to insist on utilizing a new term, consider"social media".
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