Web 2.0

Web 2.0. Oh dear.

Yet another buzzword being prepped for the hype machine. As Jack Schofield says in today’s Guardian, this could be the beginning of Bubble 2.0. Not often I find myself agreeing with him, but I did this time.

The concepts embodied by Web 2.0 are, I think, basically sound. From a technical perspective, web-based client-server applications; nothing particularly new there, of course, though perhaps the technologies now available make it slightly easier and more practical to achieve (more scope for client-side processing for example, hence more responsive interfaces – although Flash has allowed that for years, but we don’t like Flash, do we ;-) ).

From a philosophical perspective it’s all about the user having total control, retaining ownership of their information, having access to APIs so they can do information remixes, mashups and all sorts of other buzzwordy things. Like extending the app or creating alternative interfaces. Is this new? Perhaps. Not sure. Seems like a logical extension of Open Source, to me. Wasn’t this called Application Service Provision a few years back? Maybe it’s just good business – why second-guess what functionality people want when you can let them add it for themselves? Demand-led collaborative development. Nice. A bit like Microsoft’s “why beta test when paying customers can do it for us?” model taken to extreme. Only less cynical, I hope.

So anyway, I do actually like the concept of Web 2.0 and it’s probably no bad thing that we now have a label – albeit a slightly contrived one – so that we can all talk about the same thing more easily. But isn’t it a shame that so many good web technologies and concepts begin life by falling victim to the media and venture capitalists (and perhaps even the web community itself) hyping them through the stratosphere. Or the Dreamweaver Brigade latch on to them and make such a hash of it that the whole thing gets a bad name for years to come.

So I guess it’s time to batton down the hatches, take a deep breath, and let the wave wash over us, just like last time…

On the other hand – I’ve got a great idea for a Web 2.0 application, anyone know a gullible venture capitalist with a few million burning holes in their pockets? ;-)

About Jonathan Hirsch

I've been working in the interactive media industry since 1995. I'm a problem-solver with a multi-disciplinary skill set. I work on a freelance / contract basis. I help clients create great digital products.

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