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A take on why Web2.0 can’t be defined

Web2.0 may be at the heart of the current up/bubble (depending on how you view it), but there’s still a great deal of debate as to “what” it actually is and consists of.

To get straight to the point, I think a lot of people are “overloading” (in the software engineering sense) the term in order to ride the hype wave.

It makes sense. Sort of. You witness a large group of knowledgeable and respectable people harping on about Web2.0 idea. You see VC money coming back into the industry to fund said Web2.0 ideas. Put two and two together and try and get your idea in there too.

So, for me, Web2.0 has always been about the simple concept of website owners propositioning their site in such away that additional value can be derived from their service by allowing their users to access it from a third party website or other medium. It’s about content owners or service operators realising that users can value their content away from their native website.

Eg, if I run a recipe database website and I strive to offer a way for recipes to be accessed by a script to reproduced on a third-party site, that’s Web2.0. It usually incorporates a “write” aspect to, but it doesn’t have to.

If the recent O’Reilly Web2.0 conference was anything to go by, there are many people trying to stuff all sorts of other business ideas into the Web2.0 meme in order to get their wares noticed and looked at.

I think this is the detrimental aspect that is impeding Web2.0 from finding it’s feet within industry.

Published in Thoughts and Rants Web Services


  1. It would help if the term wasn’t so wank. ‘Web 2.0’ suggests that it’s a fundamentally new version of the web. But it isn’t, instead it’s just Web 1.0 technologies (HTML over HTTP over IP) but with better implementation and and different way of thinking about how websites can be used.

    The versioning metaphor doesn’t work. It’s not a new version (where are the specs? is it backwards compatible? is there a clearly deliniated line between 1.0 and 2.0? what would 2.1 be?).

    It’s completely a marketing tool, you’re absolutely right. Nothing wrong with that, but those of us who are actually doing ‘Web 2.0’ can forget about the term and just get on with building sites. Leave the marketing term for those who are actually doing the marketing…

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