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