Web 2.0? No Thanks.

5 Sep

Web 2.0 – I’ve seen the phrase now and again but I’m not big on hype and I wouldn’t consider myself a really early adopter so I just marked it away for future consideration and moved on. Over the last few months though I read an upsurge in articles about Web 2.0 and have a clearer idea about what it actually is.

What it is is hype with very little substance. Steady on now as I’m going to have a bit of a rant.

First is the idea of attaching a version number to an uncontrollable system. This is the most bullshit marketing aspect of the whole deal. The whole point of versioning software is to retain an aspect of control over its staged development.

It also seems to be an attempt to add ‘coolness’ to something which doesn’t need it, in much the same way as the year 2000 become known as Y2K. I really hated that too. A year (or the web) isn’t cool, it just _is_. If it needs to have coolness thrust upon it then its almost certainly a concept that isn’t a good idea.

Secondly is my fear that this is simply a way to wrap up a series of perfectly understandable and easy to access concepts in a containing idea that simply adds mystique where none is needed and might actually be counter productive. We have enough to learn as web designers/developers without having a totally unnecessary concept put upon us.

Lets have a look at the technical components that encompass Web 2.0:

CSS, semantically valid XHTML markup, and Microformats
Unobtrusive Rich Application techniques (such as Ajax)
Syndication of data in RSS/ATOM
Aggregation of RSS/ATOM data
Clean and meaningful URLs
Support posting to a weblog
REST or XML Webservice APIs
Some social networking aspects

Wikipedia

So basically, Web 2.0 is any halfway decent out-of-the-box blogging tool.

This leads me to strongly suspect that Web 2.0 is essentially a big old-boys club for web designers/developers. Once we were able to take the piss out of those lesser than us because we could code valid XHTML and they couldn’t. Now they’ve caught up we need to up the stakes to something else in order to maintain the old boys network.

What the hell was wrong with the ‘Semantic Web’? as a concept? At least it didn’t appear to be a way to exclude rather than include people, it didn’t place a stupid amount of emphasis on blogging and it had a totally valid purpose – to make the web more semantic and thus easier to understand. Most of all it didn’t have a bloody infantile ‘version number’.

WikiPedia sums it up:

An earlier usage of the phrase Web 2.0 was a synonym for Semantic Web. The two concepts are similar and complementary. The combination of social networking systems such as FOAF and XFN with the development of tag-based folksonomies and delivered through blogs and wikis *creates a natural basis for a semantic environment*.

Thats right, it does. And a naturally developed environment has no need to suffer through the bullshit of a hyperbolic naming and packaging process. Let the semantic web evolve and stop trying to coerce it.

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7 Responses to “Web 2.0? No Thanks.”

  1. Andy Hume September 5, 2005 at 10:36 #

    Yeah, I’d agree with most of that Kev. Web 2.0 isn’t actually anything you can define, and at the end of the day it isn’t actually any*thing*. It’s just a collection of principles/concepts surrounding the technologies and formats you mention.

    Perhaps the fairly meaningless buzzword, and the hype surrounding it, does not help in developers actually looking into what the real world potential is.

    For example, microformats come under the Web 2.0 hype, and they’re just about the most misunderstood and underestimated concept of the lot. If I had a penny for each time I’ve heard something like, “But it’s just XHTML”, or “Microformats aren’t supported yet”, then I’d have, well, at least 50p.

    IMO, the evolution you talk about comes from focusing in detail on the individual concepts and the problems that they solve. For exmaple,AJAX solves a distinct problem regarding lack of flow in web apps, as well as one of server load.
    Each microformat solves a specific problem, for example hCal, which allows events and dates to be stored on the web in a standard understood by many other mediums, as well as allowing for decentralisation of data.
    RSS/Atom solves the problem of simple syndication and aggregation of data

    If each of these develop to their full potential, then we can look back at the whole of what has evolved, and then maybe we can distinguish a *new web*. But not before.

    It’s the same as evolution in nature, each part of an organism develops seperately to solve a specific problem or to give a siginificant advantage. When you look at the whole you see what has been created, but the parts all develop individually.

    Or is this just getting too philisophical now? That’s what I wanted to get away from!

  2. Pierce September 5, 2005 at 11:23 #

    I’m with you on this one. We never had a web 1.0.

    Does anyone know where the phrase originated from? Sounds like it was thought up by a boardroom of Nike executives at a brainstorming meeting. I’m surprised they didn’t name it “X-Web 2.0 Maximum”.

  3. bonni September 6, 2005 at 08:08 #

    Web 2.0 eSolutions Xtreme!!!

    Doodz.

    Good rant, Kev.

  4. Toxie September 6, 2005 at 14:49 #

    Calm down remember the BP ;¬)

  5. Kev September 6, 2005 at 16:36 #

    You had September in the sweep didn’t you? Bastards, I’ll outlive you all ;o)

  6. Brad Chmielewski September 6, 2005 at 18:28 #

    First the accessibility backlash and now web 2.0. There is just way to much to keep up on.

    Pierce, X-Web 2.0 Maximum sounds like a much cooler name. We know it wasn’t Apple that coined the term otherwise it would of been iWeb.

    Would like to point out http://www.techcrunch.com/ which does a great job showing the these great new web app.

  7. Kev September 7, 2005 at 08:48 #

    Brad – personally I could go for iWeb -as long as it was codenamed iWeb Large Predatory Cat.

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