hip to bash web2.0, are we?

by Tim O'Brien

Related link: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/web3point0

Zeldman wants us to believe that the ever nebulous Web 2.0 is a bubble defined only by AJAX and Ruby on Rails. His argument rests on whim and an encounter with some loud suit who attended Web 2.0. To Zeldman, one pontificating audience member at a Google debate in New York is enough to prove that Web 2.0 is nothing more than a puff of fad to be disposed with. The sentiment is common.

Needless to say, I disagree with most of his ideas. To say that Web 2.0 is defined by any one technology is to miss the point entirely. Web 2.0 isn't about LAMP or even open source. It is a general approach to interaction, application design, ideas of community and participation; such ideas can be implemented on any platform be it Java, Ruby of Rails, or .NET. I also get the sense that the media's mistranslation of words like "blogger" are an affront to his superior technical sensibilities. After reading this piece, you get the sense that "Web 2.0" is like an underground punk band gone from small, bohemian stages to solid gold, and "the uninformed" are ruining everything just like they did with "Web 1.0".

What? too hip for "Web 2.0"?

Are you too hip for "Web 2.0"?


2006-01-21 17:29:49
Yes, absolutely; too hip for “Web 2.0” and not at in the least embarrassed about it.

What you outline as the meaning of the term is what you believe it means. Unfortunately your opinion is far from the only one, and there are probably at least 3 major types of definition for the term in use (the AJAX + frameworks + round corners angle, the exposed data + mashups angle, and the social networking angle) which differ in what things they’d qualify as “Web 2.0.” In all three categories, firm criteria are largely absent, and most people instead rely on a vague, hand-wavy concept. (Witness the fuzzy way you described yours.) Inevitably, barely any two people who read or hear a statement you make with the term in it will come away with the same impression of what you mean. There is a phrase that describes this situation: “devoid of meaning.”

It is a useful term, of course, if you don’t actually have something to say. If you do, you’ll do well to pick something less ambiguous and more descriptive.

2006-01-21 18:14:35
If you are too hip for "Web 2.0", how come you've paid enough attention to it to know that there are "at least 3 major types of definition"? Seems like you are paying attention to this meme even though you think "Web 2.0" is "devoid of meaning".
2006-01-23 09:08:16
Noone who’s moving in the web circles these days can avoid hearing about it – any more than they can help noticing that the term is vacuuous, after extended exposure.

All it’s good for is to impress impressionable people. Note what I’m not saying: that the ideas people refer to by the term are meritless. And I believe Mr. Zeldman is exactly on the same page.