Tim Bray has a blog post entitled Not 2.0 where he writes

I just wanted to say how much I’ve come to dislike this “Web 2.0” faux-meme. It’s not only vacuous marketing hype, it can’t possibly be right. In terms of qualitative changes of everyone’s experience of the Web, the first happened when Google hit its stride and suddenly search was useful for, and used by, everyone every day. The second—syndication and blogging turning the Web from a library into an event stream—is in the middle of happening. So a lot of us are already on 3.0. Anyhow, I think Usenet might have been the real 1.0. But most times, the whole thing still feels like a shaky early beta to me.

I also dislike the Web 2.0 meme but not for the reasons Tim Bray states. Like the buzzword "SOA" that came before it "Web 2.0" is ill-defined and means different things to different people. Like art, folks can tell you "I know it when I see it" but ask them to define it and you get a bunch of inconsistent answers. For a while even Wikipedia had a poor definition of the term Web 2.0. The meat of the description there is still crap but the introduction is now one that doesn't make me roll my eyes. The wikipedia entry currently begins

Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.

This is a definition that resonates with me and one that has gotten me jazzed enough to have written my first Bill Gates Thinkweek paper as well as give Powerpoint pitches to lots of folks across MSN from VPs & GMs to fellow rank and file PMs & devs.  

The problem with "Web 2.0" and other over hyped buzzwords like "SOA" is that 90% of the stuff you hear or read about it is crap. Or even worse are like Tim O'Reilly's Not 2.0? post which hype it as something that will change the world but don't give you a good idea why. Reading stuff like Tim O'Reilly's

There's a set of "Web 2.0 design patterns" -- architecting systems so that they get smarter the more people use them, monetizing the long tail via a combination of customer-self service and algorithmic management, lightweight business models made possible by cooperating internet services and data syndication, data as the "intel inside", and so on.

just leaves me scratching my head. On the other hand I completely grok the simple concept that folks like me at MSN are no longer just in the business of building web sites, we are building web platforms. Our users are no longer just people interacting with our web sites via Firefox or IE. They are folks reading our content from their favorite RSS reader which may be a desktop app, web-based or even integrated into their web browser. They are folks who want to create content on our sites without being limited to a web-based interface or at least not the one created by us. They are folks who want to integrate our services into their applications or use our services from their favorite applications or sites. To me, that is Web 2.0.

You folks should probably just ignore me though since I am quite the hypocrite. I may pan the writings of folks like Tim O'Reilly and call 90% of the stuff written about "Web 2.0" crap but I did give up being a speaker on two panels at PDC to sit in the audience at the Web 2.0 conference. Due to a variety of reasons I could only pick one and based on how much value I got out of ETech I decided to pick Web 2.0


Sunday, August 7, 2005 1:36:02 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
For me Web 2.0 is about web apps and web 3.0 will be about web media.
There won't be web 4 since media broadcasting is the last frontier in information exchange.

Web 1.0 - Information Repository (HTML)
Web 1.5 - eCommerce Infrastructure (XML)
Web 2.0 - Application Platform (X-Apps)
Web 3.0 - Media Broadcaster (ip-TV, vi-Phone)

First it was all about documents and hyperlinks
Then we could buy stuff online
Next, we will run all our apps on the net
Finally, all media broadcasted over the internet in a wireless world

Only when we reach internet speeds over 1GBps for the mere mortal we will know we have reached the starting point of Web 3.0

We have the tools for Web 2.0 now and we have already started, but we need more internet speed to make it go at full throttle.
Monday, August 8, 2005 1:21:04 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"architecting systems so that they get smarter the more people use them, monetizing the long tail via a combination of customer-self service and algorithmic management, lightweight business models made possible by cooperating internet services and data syndication"

That really hits the nail on the head as I envision the current direction. Some have done this for a long time already but most are just waking up to the possibilities. The funniest part of it is that I am not a web developer but that makes perfect sense to me :-) eCommerce Infrastructure with app platform, web services and so on. Though I must admit, a month ago I was planning such a site and sounded a lot like what Tim O'Reilly said there. That's why.

George> Web 3.0 - Media Broadcaster (ip-TV, vi-Phone)

I don't really see how this has anything to do with the web in general. HDTV on demand streaming has been here for a while now (not broadly), so it is more about broadening the infrastructure and business models to allow the long tail and more targeted marketing with it be made available over IP. I would like the Web 3.0 be about better/faster finding and separation of the gems from the trash. Creating better services to make this possible is important as ultimately there's only so much "broadcasting" and "pushing" you can take through feeds and traditional channels. RSS is really just the web 1.1.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 2:23:16 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Please ,fix your blog it falls apart when viewed on a Mac, really this is web 101 :)
I do want to read what you are saying just not like this!!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 4:34:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Good post Dare. I think Web 2.0 means different things to different people.

Technically i like the concept of platform being what i think of when i think web 2. When i think of how far away things like UDDI are though, i think we have a few versions to go. But this is a start. Maybe the next version can be WebVista?!

For marketing "2" (to me) signifies a new release - forget the bubble, this time it will be done right. I'm in no way a marketing person, but I have started to see a bunch of companies that are really the same as the companies i saw in '96/'97 when things were simpler (i.e. every web site didn't HAVE to do everything ever), being called "Web 2.0" companies. The only difference is that they are going slower and not trying to be all things to all people.
Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:38:27 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm really, really pleased that you got jazzed by that definition -- because it's my wording!


Well, some of it is. If my work on that article got you to write something for billg ... okay, I just allowed myself to imagine that for a jiffy.

Anyway, Peter Merholz has an even better definition


or at least a way to frame the important parts of what Web 2.0 means outside of the implementing technologies. Open information, open services, a frightening way of thinking for most major corps who are tasked with protecting shareholder value and property.

It's probably easier for a company like Microsoft to grok that and jump on it, because it doesn't actually threaten their core products (um, yet) -- though I can see some resistance down the road. Microsoft can still profit handsomely from co-opting these technologies and supporting them in its own products, by promoting the desktop as the natural medium for managing these unlimited streams of data.

In any case the underlying techonlogies are gonna change again before we know it, but the idea of web as platform may well remain -- although at a revolutionary level I can see this leading off the web somehow into a new approach that looks very little like today's web.
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