I was on O'Reilly's Radar Blog
tonight when I saw his post "Words as Pointers, and the Meaning of Web 2.0
" when it struck me that the techies can's see the forest for the trees!
Have you ever been late for an appointment, running around the house, trying to get out the door frantically declaring "I've lost my keys! I've lost my keys" only to have a friend or loved one walk directly to a dresser that you've looked at a gadzillion times and pick up your set of keys and say "Here you go!"?
You know you looked there, you are certain they were not on that dresser, or desk, or counter or wherever else your loved one found them, yet sure enough when they looked they found them even though you could not. Why? Because your reticular activating system (RAS) in your brain wants to keep you sane.
Since you told yourself “I’ve lost my keys!” and have (even in an instant) created a belief that you lost your keys, then your RAS will do whatever it takes to ensure that your sanity stays intact and that you don’t find your keys; even to the point of creating what psychoanalysts call a Skatoma – a mental blind spot.
Now, being a former marketer and now a Biz Dev guy the last ten years in the technology/dotcom space, I am definitely highly susceptible to Buzzwords and the first time I had heard “Web 2.0” was in late 2005 on an interview where the interviewer wanted to find out how ‘hip’ I was on hype. I immediately gravitated toward the term and voraciously ate up everything I could find on the concept. The one funny thing to me was all this debate (primarily among technologists) on 1. What the term really meant and B) whether or not it really was the 2dot0 of the Web or not!
Now back to my first point… I think we are witnessing a collective Skatoma on the part of the technical community here. A blind spot to the real issue we’re faced with. One thing I have noticed about the debaters is that they are for the most part NOT marketing or biz dev people but rather technologists debating the meaning or/appropriateness of the term Web 2.0. We marketers have, for the most part bought in to the Web 2.0 paradigm/naming… why?
I’ll tell you why. Just like Tim’s example earlier of “condescension” having shifted its pointer to a 180 degree meaning, I think all of you pure tech guys are missing the whole point
I had thought myself pretty savvy and could spiel a good wrap among CEOs about the origins of the Internet/Web (hint: most people think it’s the same thing!) and discuss the US military following WWII and blah, blah, blah… but until I dug deeper into the Web 2.0 thing I really didn’t parse out the Burners-Lee origins and the direct reliance on http as specific to this thing you call the WEB!
So far the basis of the debate has been misplaced – you all seem to be debating about the wrong part of the term, you’ve all been arguing about the 2 point 0 part when that is not really the part that matters.
Your blind spot, your Skatoma is about getting hung up in the meaning of the word “Web”.
What I am trying to say is that the meaning of the word “Web” itself has changed… for the vast majority of the peoples out there the Web has nothing to do with the technologies upon which it rides or is stuck with, it has everything to do with how they get information!
I’ve tried, over the last year to package Web 2.0 for discussions with clients and partners, and last September, at the Modular Software Conference 2006 in Las Vegas I packaged it in a simple phrase that hit home across the board, whether it was with a ‘web developer’ or a CEO or a marketing person… and it goes like this…
“Web 2.0 is the evolution of a Web of presentation to a Web of participation.”
It works because for the most part people have, until the Tsunami of 2004, thought of the Web as a place to only go find information. When the Tsunami hit, the media began talking about Web logs, now called Blogs, where victims were using the internet to communicate – I believe that’s where the massive paradigm shift occurred. Of course there were all of the pre-cursors to Web 2.0, Napster, eBay Ratings/Reviews, and others… but the collective conscience of what you could do with the Web changed after Blogs became known by the peoples… for most people “Web 2.0 is the evolution of Web of presentation to Web of participation.” And that works only because Web is a concept, not a technology stack.
The concept is evolving and there is technology evolution happening too.
Now sure, if you use the strict technical sense of the word Web, then the concept of Web 2.0 breaks down with the first three letters of its moniker. Yet if you allow the concept to EXPAND the definition of Web to include all that Tim and Dion and the rest of the thought leaders have been saying… to include getting, interacting, using, transforming, creating, modifying, displaying, filtering, searching, sorting, and transmitting information then that’s really what Web 2.0 is…
I’m sorry Tim Berners-Lee – I know, as the father of the Web it’s hard to see the word with any other meaning, but surly the Web has outgrown our original concept of what it meant to connect with hyperlnks and hypertext….
Try this… stop ten random people, any age, any occupation… ask them if they use the Web, they’ll tell you ‘Sure I have the Internet’ and then ask them what that little http:// means in the addresses they use on the Internet and they’ll look at you with the “who cares” look in their eyes… it doesn’t really matter what transport or protocol or technology we use to create Web 2.0 only that it’s NOT the same web, it’s evolved.
Web 2.0 works because people think of Web (1.0) as more than a technology, a collection of technologies or a specific way to compute… they think of it as a place to get information and if the new Web, Web 2.0 is better then hey! Why not…
I suppose the real question is, what’s driving the evolution, are we calling it Web 2.0 because new technologies are changing the way we interact with information or is technology changing because we now have a new concept of what the “Web” is in Web 2.0?
Stick with Web 2.0 – people get it, even if the technologists don’t want to!