What I Don’t Like About the “Web 2.0” Label

April 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Analyst biz, social software, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

I made a side comment on my feelings about the Web 2.0 meme previously, but it deserves a little more explanation. I like the technologies, but don’t like the term.

I am an advocate of the technologies often lumped under Web 2.0 as well as the concepts associated with social software and the participatory web from an enterprise point of view.

As a matter of fact, I’m such an advocate that I don’t want the party to end!  There is a lot of rapid fire innovation going on right now – vendors are offering new forms of tagging and forming social connections, organizations are experimenting with the technologies to see how they can make a difference in real business processes.  I want this innovation to continue at the same, great pace it has shown so far without celebrating a milestone to say “We made it! Woo hoo! Release party at Tim’s place!”  Instead, this innovation is happening incrementally and quickly – continuously.

If this is continuous and not complete, who determined we finally tripped the 2.00000 mark?  Or, more importantly, why label it that way?  I don’t believe a significant milestone has been achieved yet although I’m happy with the progress.  We should not be implying this is “done”, but rather that we are still encouraging software developers to keep fighting for new ideas.  We don’t even know that the set of software categories in this bundling are what we need yet.  

So what’s the harm of calling it Web 2.0?  

First, it could anchor creative energies to the existing set of technologies in the Web 2.0 bundle (blogs, wikis, RSS, social bookmarking and tagging, etc.) rather than innovation on what is in the set. Who wants to innovate by creating a new technology not in the Web 2.0 bundle just to hear “What is this, a web 3.0 technology?  Not ready for that.  Come up with a better mobile blogging tool or something – the web 2.0 stuff is hot.” 

Second, it sends an incorrect signal to more risk-averse organizations that this set of technologies is as mature as a 2.0 version of software (when version 1.0 came out 10 years ago).  Once these people get burned they’ll avoid the category for a while – I’ve seen it before.  

Neither of these effects will be absolute or widespread, but just enough to have a minor negative effect (slightly less innovation, slightly more organizations that get burned). I don’t believe the value of the extra hype and attention Web 2.0 gets because of the moniker will outweigh the chilling effect on innovation and inevitable drop in interest when sky-high expectations are not met. 

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  1. […] but from different angles (see his initial posting at Web 2.0: A simple definition and mine at What I Don’t Like About the “Web 2.0” Label).  How can these seemingly conflicting views be resolved?  We’ll be settling this […]

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