Do you *like* 'web 2.0'?

Do you like Web 2.0?

In which I include:

-Social networking sites (Digg, StumbleUpon…)

-A bunch of other stuff that is a mix of social networking, online apps or tools, wikis and collaborative stuff.

-The common visual styles
I ask because I’m not sure I’m impressed. I mean:

I use StumbleUpon once in a while, but I just can’t get very excited about it.

I like the idea of the other stuff, but I just get this impression they’re all clamouring to be bought by Google. That shouldn’t detract from what they actually are, but it just takes the shine off it for me.

And the first time I saw a glossy-plastic button (like these), I was impressed, likewise the first time I saw a minimalist, lower-case sans-serif logo rendered in glassy material with a gradient reflection, but the sheer ubiquity of it all is just starting to make me queasy.

Oh, and the whole often-juvenile- not-quite-sensical naming - sites called things like kroobly or flurple, or abbreviated to bullshittr or some such (I have no idea if those are real sites and I don’t care to look) is just… meh.

Maybe I am finally getting old. It just turns me off. What do you think?

Funny you bring that up because I like Stumble Upon. They’re owned by Yahoo. Google actually got to the social networking party a little late. They own

I don’t like thinking of “Web 2.0” as some kind of milestone that has been reached.

I think that it’s just one of the first things the web has turned into since the net went huge over the last 10-12 years.

The current status of the web – moreso than the real world – seems mostly driven by consumer demand, and not so much by whatever marketers want to shove down our throats.

As to the graphic design. . .it’s all right. Better than most of what comes with Microsoft. But, when people become inured to it, the designers will come up with new stuff.

I love AJAX stuff like GMail and Google Maps. Is that Web 2.0?

Maybe. I dunno. Google Maps is actually quite useful and educational. GMail isn’t really anything new though.

web 2.0 is easy to make fun of and god knows there’s a lot of stuff to make fun of but it really has represented a fundamental shift in the way which we build software that is significant and important behind all the hype:

Rich web apps: Building applications on the web changes how software developers develop. Even during the web1.0 app days, people were going on about how “application service providers” would be the next big thing but the technology just wasn’t there yet. Upgrading desktop applications is a pain and update cycles are in the months if not years. AJAX/web applications can be updated in just a matter of days or even hours. This isn’t just about speed, it changes your entire approach towards software design. Before, companies had to essentially make a blind guess as to what they should build and then put it out there and hope for the best. Now, what we’re seeing is companies producing just the bare bones of a product and then using the web to monitor very closely what the product develops into and creating more organically grown apps. Instead of needlessly bloated applications which do nothing well, the best of today’s apps are focused on what people actually want and need.

falling cost of innovation: If you started an internet startup in 2001 and failed, you burned through $10m worth of venture capital funds, if you start a startup today and fail, you have an extra $20k on your credit card debt. People are much more free to try wacky stuff and experiment when they’re not beholden to investors and the sheer number of people going at it means that theres going to be some really innovative and neat stuff coming out.

social networking: Social networking is huge, it’s literally changed the way that teens live. Something like 80% of all american teens are on either myspace or facebook, that’s absolutely astounding. When has there ever been an 80% penetration into any market? especially one that only took 4 years? Social networking sites change the way that we communicate and are aware of each other as fundamentally as email did. New services like twitter are only accelerating this trend and it will be interesting to see where this goes but this is most definitely not just a fad.

crowdsourcing: I like the description of crowdsourcing as “artificial artificial intelligence”. By using reasonably dumb algorithms and the judicious application of human intelligence on a mass scale, we can solve some really cool problems. Check out some of Luis Von Ahn’s work on ESP Game and peekaboom to see what’s possible.

mashups: Mashups are novel ways of combining the best bits of different web 2.0 applications and data to produce something new and novel. Ever since people moved to GUI interfaces and abandoned Unix style piping, applications have never had a good way of talking to each other. That means that if the application you were using didn’t suit your needs exactly, you were out of luck. It would be like building a table with a combination saw/screwdriver/lathe/bottle opener/hammer. Maybe the hammer is great but the saw is kind of dull. What mashups allow is now one company can focus on producing a great saw and another company can focus on making great hammers and you can combine the two and come up with something neat.

Geotagging: Researcher Danah Boyd believes that this is moving into web 3.0 but I’m going to put it here. Once ubiquitous GPS & RFID comes about, there can be some exciting things to do with place based applications. Everyone’s been crowing on about the “find me all italian restaurants within 500m of me” from my cellphone scenario since web1.0 but I think there’s going to be some much more interesting things to come out of it, especially when it becomes integrated with social networking. Some of this is already happening in Korea and Japan but expect the US to be one of the last places to get it because of how primitive the cell phone network is there.

Wisdom of the crowds: This is what you seem to be talking about in the OP and this is certainly one giant facet of web 2.0. Everything from digg to wikipedia is a giant experiment in trying to prove that the collective wisdom of many, if properly harnessed, can surpass that of carefully chosen gatekeepers. And even if it’s not better, it’s most certainly going to be of much higher volume which brings me to…

The long tail: The explosion of content on the fringes. Amazon has more books than Borders, Wikipedia has more articles than Britannica, Youtube has more video content than ABC, flickr has more stock photography than any stock photography company, livejournal has published more words than HarperCollins. Who’s interested in all that crap? Probably only 1 - 100 people usually. But chances are, you’ll likely be part of that >100 person demographic a lot of the time.

A lot of what I’ve pointed out can seem extremely silly on the surface and is unfortunately saddled with a bunch of buzzword laden terms (although I am grudgingly impressed by how many of them were coined by wired writers). But behind the hype, these are some of the things I think have real substance and the potential to make lasting impressions.

Also, randomly: rss, microformats, widgets, rest & LAMP

LAMP? According to wikipedia , Michael Kunze coined the acronym LAMP in an article for the German computing magazine c’t in 1998. That is web 1.0 era.

nice write-up Shalmanese

I’m not entirely sure what I think about all of it so far. Which kind of sucks because I am a Web developer so I should be thinking about it all the time :slight_smile:

One thing I don’t think I like is the complete overabundance of information. Not that having a lot of info is a bad thing, but it does make it harder to figure out what is fact and what is fiction. See Wikipedia. Lots of info, no real way to know if it’s correct or not. The system is pretty cool I think - experts checking experts on a ton of free information - but still, can you trust it?

I was reading an article in Wired about the dude who started TechCrunch blog. He said in the article that he wanted to start more blogs about different topics. He’s already got a few - CrunchGear, MobileCrunch, CrunchJobs, etc. He says he hopes to have 200 blogs created under his network or something.

To me, it sounds absurd. Everyone has a blog. Hell, I write for one blog and the guy I run it with already started another one. So we all write articles and we all post them on all the social bookmark sites and occasionally someone from outside our circle comes and makes a comment or links in. It all seems like bullshit to me at times.

If everyone is writing bullshit and then passing the bullshit around then the Web will just be full of bullshit. Granted, that means that every bit of info there is to be had will eventually be had on the Web … but the more info there is and the more hands in the pot, then it’s all just going to be watered down bullshit.

Web 2.0 is interesting but I am just not sure what to make of it yet.

what the hell is web 2.0? I make websites and I don’t really understand what it is, other than over use of gradients and reflections and a whole lot of BS.

Nah, it’s not really about style. That’s more of an afterthought. Like, all of these “Web 2.0” sites were made and around the same time designers started doing some new design styles on sites. Made everything look “new” but it’s not actually a huge part of Web 2.0.

It’s more about user-produced content (YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia) and web-based software (Windows Live, Google Maps) and the promotion of community (Wordpress, Digg).

Some people (Tim Berners-Lee) tend to think it doesn’t even exist. Wikipedia article.

I’m a professional Web designer too and until I made a conscious effort to figure out what the heck “Web 2.0” was, I was in the same boat as you. To me it seems that the people who talk/write/think about Web 2.0 the most are not the people who have been working on Web Beta .02 :slight_smile:

I think it’s time I went to live in a cave or something. It all just makes me grind my teeth.

Gmail was the first web mail application I encountered that had a responsive user inetrface, rather than one in which you had to reload the entire page every time you did anything. I never used Hotmail et al, for that reason. I think the competition may now have caught up in that regard. I also remember hearing about a thing called Oddpost which was rather like Outlook Express rendered in AJAX, and predated Gmail.

I like it.

I’ve found all kinds of things that interest me through Stumble Upon, that I wouldn’t have thought to look for. (The Straight Dope for instance.)

The increasing use of videos are beginning to annoy me though. If you can convey the same thing through typed words or images, then do so. Save the video for when you want to show something amazing.

I guess it’s too much of a buzzword then. My idiot ex-boss constantly used the term to pretty much mean gradients and reflections.

When has the internet not been about user-produced content?

Welcome, by the way. Hope you enjoy your stay here.

Pretty much never. But in the past couple of years the technology has matured to a level of sophistication where it’s possible for individual users to produce content in a way that rivals what large companies can do.

For those of us old enough to remember, it’s like the desktop publishing revolution all over again. You don’t need a hundred thousand dollar pre-press system to make brochures, you can do it with a thousand-dollar copy of QuarkXpress or even a hundred-dollar copy of MS Works, woohoo!

Overall, I like web 2.0, but I should – I work in ecommerce.

To Shalmanese’s excellent list, I will add one more thing that I think powers the web 2.0 phenomenon: empowerment of the individual. We can all be authors, we can all be participants in the common endeavour. eBay is successful for a variety of reasons, but one really big one is feedback scoring. When you use feedback scores to judge whether or not you will do business with someone, you are trusting in the wisdom of a crowd of your peers, and empowering them by doing so. When you use the reviewer scores or read the reviews at Amazon, you’re empowering the users who write those reviews – and I find that I trust user reviews often more than I trust those written by professionals.

Web 2.0 didn’t spring up fully formed one spring day in 2004. A lot of what is happening are trends and continuums and the evolution has always been gradual. True, LAMP has been around for a long time but it’s matured and grown since then and the toolsets surrounding it has exploded. LAMP is great because, once you become familiar with it, it’s possible to go from basic concept to a skeleton of a fully functioning rich web app in less than a day. This lets you try out lots of crazy things you wouldn’t build if you had to devote a month to it.

If 99% of what was on the web was utter bullshit and 0.99% was half decent and 0.01% was absolutely stunning work far surpassing what a professional could do, then there’s still vastly more great content being produced by amateurs than by professionals. What the challenge becomes is filtering the content so that the best stuff rises to the top and we can ignore all the chaff. It’s actually stunning how good our filtering is because we only tend to notice it when it goes wrong. We never even become aware of all the crap that’s floating on the web because we only see the very tip of the quality iceberg. And filtering is one of the things that web 2.0 is perfect for because it calls upon a large number of people to make a few relatively simple decisions and then it can aggregate that knowledge and leverage it into something highly intelligent.

I suppose that’s where the social networking thing is supposed to come in - the bullshit is judged, strained, filtered, refined and recommended by a community of folks who digg or stumble it, or whatever. Still makes me feel old though.