Is Web 2.0 Over?
October 2, 2005 at 1:50 PM
Jay Fineberg has an interesting post over on iCite entitled The era of web 2.Over which goes into detail about Tim O'Reilly's recent essay about Web 2.0 and it's future. From Jay's point of view, the Web 2.0 discussion is now a "purely retrospective concept." This is true if you are paying attention to early adopters and trend setters. However, if you look at the vast majority of people using the Web it is not. For example in a recent study Forrester reported that only 6% of consumers currently use RSS. Contrast this with how many consumer sites might be using AJAX, blogs, or implementing folksonomies, well, you get quite a different perspective. For the majority of web users out there, Web 2.0 hasn't even hit yet.
I think the real point is that the concept of Web 2.0 means pretty little outside the circles it is talked about in. We've defined it, and I agree with Jay here, as some cool things that have been happening in the last few years. That is brought about by a greater understanding of the medium and how people use it, not by fundamentally new techniques or technologies.
Forrester did say -- Blogging: Ten percent of consumers read blogs once a week or more, compared with 5 percent in 2004. -- Real Simple Syndication (RSS): Six percent of consumers use RSS feeds once a week or more, compared with 2 percent in 2004. -- Social networking: Six percent of consumers use social networking sites once a week or more, compared with 4 percent in 2004. Which to me seems a 3 fold increase in the use of RSS. Always these things have there time - blogging's time is now. From Baghdad to the Himalayas, my backyard to Mauritius, people are talking to each other. Nick is right though for the majority of web users Web ?.* hasn't hit or will ever need to. Its what can you do with it - whats the latest cool killer app thats a gas to use. What makes this amazing media even more amazing - this is what Web 2.0 will bring but to most users it doesn't matter what it's called.
Part of what I think is retrospective about Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 essay is that it suggests the things that are going to make a big difference for some vast number of web users in the "next generation of software" future are the same things that have been popular among one small number of web users over the past year or three. I'm sure Tim is right to be looking at the "early adopters" as an indicator of things to come. But, I'm concerned that there are lots of other things (or, other ways of looking at some of the things Tim has covered) that are changing the way the web is useful, that are also less hip to talk about if you're among the technorati. By the time lots of people are ready to buy into web 2.0, we technorati will all be on to web millennium edition, or something, anyway :-) (I just got my copy of web 3.1 up and running, and I think it's a winner!)