November 27, 2006
@ 05:02 PM

Every once in a while I read something in a blog I find so ridiculously empty of content and contradictory that it makes me question the entire human race. Most of the time it's usually someone spouting their opinion on politics which sends me into this pit of despair. Today, it is Kathy Sierra and her post Why Web 2.0 is more than a buzzword where she writes

But to say it means nothing (or WORSE--to say it's just a marketing label) is to mistake jargon (good) for buzzwords (bad). Where buzzwords are used to impress or mislead, jargon is used to communicate more efficiently and interestingly with others who share a similar level of knowledge and skills in a specific area.
So... back to "Web 2.0"--I'll admit that this one's trickier than most domain-specific phrases because it wraps many different--and big and ill-defined--concepts. But when Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty (the guy who first coined the term) talk about Web 2.0, it represents something real and specific and meaningful. Over time, a lot of other people (especially those who've spent time around them, including me) have come to understand at least a part of what they've encapsulated in that one small phrase. "Web 2.0" may be the least understood phrase in the history of the world, but that still doesn't make it meaningless.
A problem with blogs is that it encourages people to not proof read what they write. On the one hand Kathy argues that jargon allows us to communicate more efficiently then in the same breath points out that "Web 2.0" wraps many different and ill-defined concepts together. That seems pretty contradictory to me. How is it communicating more efficiently if I say "Web 2.0" to Bob and he thinks AJAX and widgets while Jane thinks  I'm talking about social networking and tagging while I actually meant RSS and open APIs? We may be communicating with less words but since we are guaranteed to have a miscommunication, this efficiency in words exchanged is small compared to the amount of time we waste talking past each other.

I've made my peace with the idea that "Web 2.0" is here to stay and that it is such a wide umbrella term that it is effectively meaningless other than a catch all to describe Web trends have become popular over the past two years. However that doesn't make it worthy of being elevated to "professional jargon" unless your profession is slinging bullshit to VCs or trying to wade through which bullshit knockoffs of YouTube and you want to be investing in.