2 min read

Call it what you want, the Web is Changing

The tech blogosphere is troubling lately. Lots of echoes, as seen by the Yahoo! acquisition. Lots of silly debate, as exemplified by the current discussion about Web 2.0 being dead.

I’m not against an old-fashioned dustup amongst geeks but debating the legitimacy of Web 2.0 doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile use of our intellect. The semantics surrounding the coining of this phrase, who has the proper definition of it, and whether it exists or not means to me that we have lost sight of one of our important roles: developing ways to articulate the changes of web technology to those outside our circle.

When it comes to the jargon behind the changing web, we have failed. These words are just that – jargon. Words like blogs, RSS, podcasts, wikis, folksonomy, AJAX, and tagging are confusing and unintuitive.

So, where, if any, is the value in the phrase ‘Web 2.0′? Not in its non-existant definition, the idea of it being ‘the web as platform’, or in it representing a buzzword compliant application. It presents a way to encapsulate the fact that the web is changing at a very fundamental level, that web technology is getting better, smarter, more fun, and more efficient.

At the very least, Web 2.0 is a much better phrase than the words ‘wiki’ or ‘podcast’. It embodies two elements of familiarity – the word ‘Web’ and the idea of versioning. Geeks will need to do their best to overlook that it is not really a new release of the web. Skeptics will have to bear with the fact that businesses and entrepreneurs might use the term inappropriately, in order to make themselves more marketable. And those who embrace the phrase might face the ridicule of mockers, who have nothing better to do than to crudely slander those who talk or write about a made-up concept.

Tara Hunt put it best in a comment on Mike Arrington’s Traitors in our Midst:

“I think what’s really dead is the discussion of whether Web 2.0 is real/unreal/a bubble/a whatever – it’s like blogging about blogging…it gets old.”

It is old. So, whatever you want to call it, the web is changing. But with what has been set in motion, the force behind Web 2.0 will not be undone. The once meme will become the moniker for heralding the second coming of the web. As we use the term “dot.com” to reference the early days of the web, Web 2.0 will also be solidified as an era. The web is changing and for better or for worse, the movement has been given its name. The dawning of Web 2.0 is upon us.

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