Web 2.0? It doesn't exist

Web 2.0? It doesn't exist

Summary: No, I am not turning into a "flat-earther." The world is pear-shaped, Pluto is not a planet, and global warming exists.

TOPICS: Enterprise 2.0

No, I am not turning into a "flat-earther." The world is pear-shaped, Pluto is not a planet, and global warming exists.

But Web 2.0 does not exist.

The advances being touted under the general umbrella of Web 2.0- advances written about with considerable skill on our own Web 2.0 Explorer Blog by our own Richard MacManus - well, of course those advances exist. RSS, Social Media, content aggregation, podcasting, you have it.

My problem is not with the characterization of the components of Web 2.0. It is the implication inherent in the very livery, "Web 2.0," that I just don't get.

How did we get here? First of all, Web 2.0 is a marketing slogan. For perspective on this, let us go to what some would call a creature of Web 2.0 itself- Wikipedia. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about this Web 2.0:

The term "Web 2.0" refers to what some people see as a second phase of development of the World Wide Web, including its architecture and its applications. It was coined by Dale Dougherty during a meeting between O'Reilly and Associates (a computer book publisher) and MediaLive International (an event organizer) as a marketable term for a series of conferences. 

There you have it. A slogan. Most marketers have them.

The problem I have with this "Web 2.0" slogan is that it is a contrivance, meant to imply a unified movement or wave toward a better Web. Just the very numbering of the thing brings out my moo-goo detector: 1.0 sounds like a beginning. 2.0 (as opposed to a tenth-decimal, such as 1.7 or a 2.4 implies - by its very roundness, a coordinated, standards-based, like-minded rebirth, reconstruction, renaissance, resurrection, whatever you want to call it. 2.0 is the ideal number for such an impression: it implies a concerted, noble effort at refreshing an inspired, but now aging, creation. even "3.0" implies, well, we didn't get it right the first time, 2.0 was transitory and is getting long in the tooth, so here we are transitioning to 3.0. But 2.0 sounds good.

Well, Web 2.0 is bunk. Not that the elements of this rebirth aren't there. I write about some of them, and Richard has them nailed. It's just that they cannot be classified under a common umbrella. They are forward lurches of various standards and technologies, some compatible, some not. Some revolutionary, some evolutionary, some impractical. Some are collaborative, others are highly competitive with each other. 

Now, I'll point out what the Wikipedia article describes Web 2.0 consists of. The article attributes the elements of Web 2.0 as "one or more of the following:"

A transition of websites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming a computing platform serving web applications to end users;
A social phenomenon referring to an approach to creating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and "the market as a conversation";
A more organized and categorized content, with a more developed deeplinking web architecture.;

A shift in economic value of the web, potentially equalling that of the dot com boom of the late 1990s.

Wow, that's one broad umbrella. My problem with all this is not that the changes described in each of these points aren't real, it is just that many of these changes are incremental, and only related to each other in the broadest, most general sense.

That is, until some clever marketers wanting to charge a fortune for you to attend their conferences dreamed this one up. Dreamed Web 2.0 up as a nice-off-the-tongue, easily memorable descriptor for come to our conferences, learn about what's hot.

Or, as Wikipedia puts it: 

Skeptics argue that the term is essentially meaningless, or that it means whatever its proponents decide that they want it to mean in order to convince the media and investors that they are creating something fundamentally new, rather than continuing to develop and use well-established technologies.

Well-put, Wikipedia! Your thoughts? 




Topic: Enterprise 2.0

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  • Absolutely on the mark

    I wrote that <a href="http://www.bladam.com/archives/0509200002.htm">Web 2.0 is a bunch of crap</a> quite a while ago ;-)

    And, echoing your sentiments, it's not that the "Web 2.0" [gag] sites are themselves crap necessarily, but rather I'm surprised and very dismayed that GEEKS have adopted an empty marketing term to describe a hypothetical but overly broad set of technologies.

    <a href="http://www.bladam.com">http://www.bladam.com/</a>
    • Man, I hate this

      It's so annoying not knowing in advance whether HTML is accepted AND not having a preview button. [sigh]

      So here's my darn blog entry about the Web 2.0 being crap :)
      • Welcome to ZDNet

        "It's so annoying not knowing in advance whether HTML is accepted AND not having a preview button. [sigh]"

        Welcome to ZDNet. Nobody really knows all of the tags, but it does appear [b]some[/b] tags, like [ b ] works, but others like [quote] don't.

        We've also been asking for the ability to edit posts, but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

        The whole system has been overhauled at least once since I've been using it, but it still seems to have plenty of problems. Recently, people have been double posting because it posts messages sometimes and returns an error, making people think their post didn't go through when it really did.

        For a website that gives us the news on the cutting edge, I'm surprised that they don't try to use some of that technology themselves.
  • Marketing Hype

    The earth is an oblate spheriod - where the middle bulges out because of it spinning faster there. Pluto and Charon are indeed a "binary" planet - the only example of such. Global warming DOES exist . . .

    Those M$hills that love to spout, and fall for marketing hype are the ones behind this "2.0" garbage. Those "S"-types HAVE to have something new - or there's nothing to live for!
    Roger Ramjet
    • Considering...

      ...pretty much every ZDNet blogger BUT John Carroll and George Ou (the two alleged "Microsoft shills") has been blogging extensively about "Web 2.0" in recent months, I have to disagree with your accusation. I have to wonder why you felt the need to use this article as a forum for attacking Microsoft users once again.

      Carl Rapson
      • Global warming more dramatic without human intervention

        Global warming is what brought us out of the ice age. We had much more dramatic warming in the last 500 years and we even had a mini "ice age" in that same period. Other planets in the solar system are warming too. The problem is that we can't blame man for any of these.
  • You know what's crazy?

    Global warming? Come up here to WI right now...I'll show you some global "warming". Don't buy into that junk science. The past few winters have been colder with more snow than we've had in a decade. There is no global warming, only cyclical trends, which happen to be heading the other direction lately.
    • Mostly agree

      We have had a few mild winters temperature wise here lately. This one is a bit cool right now, 10 below this morning. I heard on the radio it was 20 below just 50 miles north ( live near the southern border). What I do agree with is that there are cyclic changes, and this is just one. This is closer to the Wisconsin winters I suffered through back in the late seventies. Things are just getting back to normal, no big crisis here.
    • Junk science

      I'm glad to see that you at least conduct 'real' science by drawing cunclusions from your statistically unsignificant area. Oh, so your shitty little Wisconsin (or wherever) home town is getting colder. You know, *global* is a little more than your home town. If you ever went outside your of your parents basement you'd know.

      Oh well, you are probably right. What do these scientists know that you don't? You probably have an education in the field, and if not, because you are a person with an internet connection, your opinion on the subject matters. Wrong. Just because you and a lot of people like to think that global warming doesn't exist doesn't make it so. Science is not a democratic process. You can't vote on gravity and decide it doesn't work. Sorry.
  • Thank You!

    All this talk about "Web 2.0" simply drives me insane. It's for CEOs and marketing personnel of "lets try this again" dot-flop companies trying to latch onto something ... anything ? to make them sound more important than "a website". It's not a website, it's Web 2.0 company! We're not just a dot-com company, we're a Dot-Com 2.0 Company, and we're going to make a billion dollars from banners and Google AdWords!

    But why stop there? Now everyone's touting "Web 2.0" so what can someone do to make themselves sound even better than everyone else? Why it's easy, talk about "Web 3.0" I use Phil Wainewright blogs on ZDNet as exhibit A.

    Technology buzzwords generally annoy me (AJAX anyone), but this enormous load of marketing excrement makes me ill.
  • I can qoute stuff too

    but it doesnt mean its absulutly true
    such as "Web 2.0 is not a marketing slogan. It is the slogan of a people?s army. Our army. They are words that help us explain the explosion of conversations on the web, and justify our enthusiasm for innovation. Web 2.0 is why I came back from my exodus at the fringes of technology, to explore the frontier of the new consumer web."
    "Look at Flickr. Look at Delicious. Look at Riya. And 1,000 more. My God, how dare you tell me that something amazing and new, completely new, hasn?t happened on the web. Web 2.0 isn?t about wikipedia definitions and neatly wrapped bundles of functionality that non-innovators can use to understand what?s going on. It?s about the web coming out of a nuclear winter and bursting forth in a fit of chaotic growth. It?s about hope and love and getting ridiculously wealthy by ignoring the wisdom of those around you who say ?your idea, it sucks?." Crunch notes says it best cited from http://www.crunchnotes.com/?p=88
    • No

      I was not implying that crunch notes wasnt true and besides just because you work with cnet doesnt mean your an expert like the flat earthers who proboly considered them self right then proboly got a slap in the face when that one guy found out it was round and no global warming doesnt exist look at the ice age wasnt caused by oil
  • Really ? Think again.

    Nice Try ! Who paid U to do this ?


    But I will fail your attempts to destroy AJAX.
  • Right on the mark

    I have to agree with you, this Web 2.0 bunk smells and if you dare, tastes, a lot like dot bomb inanity. The Marketeers really lose credibility and ability to sell into an intelligent buyer space when they come up with this type of "Mr. Hankey" material.
  • where's the beef (in your commentary)?

    > Well-put, Wikipedia! Your thoughts?

    I think I should have just read the Wikipedia article.
  • Web 2.0 Angst

    Russell and the Web 2.0 angsters,

    Did you all just pop across from a parallel universe where marketing is illegal?

    I envision all of you with fingers stuck in ears, eyes clamped tightly shut chanting loudly "I can't hear you, I can't hear you....". as the Web 2.0 marketing line sweeps around the web.

    It's ok guys. It's not that bad. In this universe we've gotten used to the idea of marketing and it's not really that scary.

    And don't worry about those poor starving VC's. In our universe most have learned a few lessons about how to seperate marketing hype from real business plan. And those that havn't....well...it is a free country right?

    Roger T
    • should be

      "Did you all just pop across from a parallel universe where marketing is illegal?"

      No, but allowing marketers to invent a new language should be . . .
      • China for you...

        Move to China if you find freedom of speech distasteful.
  • Uh -- That's Not Web 2.0

    Buddy, I think you read a co-opted definition and
    then took a whack at some straw men.

    Web 2.0 to me is the Semantic Web. It's part of
    the XML trend to move from "dumb content" to
    "smart content".

    Right now the most successful website on the
    planet is Google...it's based on finding
    information based on Boolean search. Boolean
    search was repudiated as the least effective way
    to search for content decades ago -- but the Web,
    being computing for amateurs, doesn't know that

    Enter Tim Berniers-Lee (again) and the Semantic
    Web. This is a web where the actual way we
    markup and write text contains meta-text that
    makes it inherently referenced and connected.

    If you want to see the web 2.0 being built, check
    out RuleML -- http://www.ruleml.org -- a way to
    create inference rules using a simple markup
    language. Imagine a web page that not only has
    readable content, but content that can be asked a
  • Web 2.0

    These Web 2.0 guys are nothing but bloody scavengers