Web 2.0 is not an industry
February 13, 2006 at 8:39 AM
Keith Robinson, one of my business partners at Blue Flavor, has posted a great perspective on Web 2.0 entitled Web 2.0 as an industry? He makes some really good points about all of the Web 2.0 hype and it's sad in a way because I know there are many professionals out there who really understand what Web 2.0 is about but they are often overshadowed by the media and hype machine that has taken hold of the term and turned it into, as Keith reported, a whole industry.
But it's a good thing Nick. It keeps the cowboys and kids in their bedrooms, out of the picture when the clients start asking for this stuff.
Joshua -- Based on your definition of Web 2.0 your article there is a great primer. My "problem" (if you could even call it that) is that depending on who you speak with, you can get a vastly differing opinion about what Web 2.0 is. This creates issues if, say, someone is going to define companies based on Web 2.0. This is a real world issue. I just got through reading a 10 page presentation from one of my clients that's all about how they can use Web 2.0 to *brand* their company. We've been speaking to them a bit about this, and trying to dispell some myths, but there is no doubt that "Web 2.0" is making some waves and creating some misconception amongst the mucky mucks. It really does smack of Flash all over again. When it comes to designing and building a product it's the idea and execution that matter, right? Say Web 2.0 is a ball of clay--a philosophy, platform, bundle of technologies, etc.--that you can use to build something. Let's say it's the best damn ball of clay the world has ever seen. You still need a great idea and great execution to get that ball of clay into something meaningful. A stupid idea with a great ball of clay is still a stupid idea. You can't just slap some Ajax (or some large fonts, XHTML, Rails, or whatever else people associate with Web 2.0) on a site and call it good. As a Web designer and user advocate I've got to fight every day to make sure that the empathy I've built up for people who have to use what I build makes it into my designs and my cleints products. If that's left out of Web 2.0 then I can hostly say that I feel it's damn near meaningless. To me it's not "designers need to become more like programmers" rather it's "desingners need to become more like users."
I posted the link because I felt it added to Nick's point that there are people out there who aren't focused on the hype, but are trying to find the nugget of truth underneath it all. About defining Web 2.0, we definitely have a problem if people can't agree on what something means. I've attempted to get the gist of it with this: Introduction to Web 2.0, but I also realize that it means different things to different people. The funny thing is that web designers almost all agree that there is a change occurring, but they(we) can't come to an agreement about what that change is. From my standpoint, the change is that we're learning to leverage the network to build better software for people, and not just stick up siloed HTML pages with the attitude of "if we build it, they will come". It's a change in philosophy, as Jeff Croft pointed out in your comments. So describing this change is the rub...and Web 2.0 is simply one approach to that. I'll be happy if we can describe it, as the terminology itself is not very important.
Joshua -- Totally. I think terminology is a huge hurdle here. Anyway, I wasn't trying to disparage your link in any way, I just went back and read that article and had some thoughts I wanted to share... ;0)