Web 2.0 definition still pretty incoherent

Yesterday Dion Hinchcliffe discussed definitions of Web 2.0 and recommended Tim O'Reilly's super-compact definition because, he says, 'we can now fit this into our minds'
"Networked applications that explicitly leverage network effects."
Well, maybe geek companies can fit that sentence into their minds, but I doubt that it means much to the rest of the world. I prefer Hinchcliffe's own definition 'A set of clearly apparent widespread new trends'. Web 2.0 is not a technology, he emphasised, but a change in behaviour due to the scale of the web and its audience, and whose core principle is harnessing collective intelligence. That's better.


7 thoughts on “Web 2.0 definition still pretty incoherent

  1. Net Squared says it prefers “social web” to “web 2.0”. Their site explains its “because their power comes from the relationships they enable.”
    I think that sounds pretty good – more useful than the very techno-speak Web 2.0. After all, isn’t the new web paradigm supposed to be for everybody – including those who don’t think about life in version numbers? 😉

  2. I find it amazing that O’Reilly would like to believe that web2.0 is about, among other things, businesses talking to customers in their own language yet is completely incapable of describing web2.0 in a language beyond that of the geek venture capitalist.
    I’m not convinced that the term social web vastly helps because, as with everything, it implies that what went before was the “non-social web”. I also suspect, however, that the version number actually captures something important about what we think. What we think, I think, is that there will be something after web2.0 and something after that and so on and so on. Which is to say that we perceive distinct changes. On the other hand, it’s hard to think of what would be “after” the social web.

  3. I agree that social web is not enough and also that the version number is important – or at least *was* important in terms of identifying a distinct cultural shift. However, as to what might come after the social web, i think that’s easy. Call me a romantic but I think it will be something like a mental web, when conscious use of our brain power kicks in and is added to the network in a way we can’t quite imagine yet.

  4. I see what you mean – although I think “Web 2.0” might have a tendency to alienate those to whom computer technology is not a comfortable language. I’m thinking about it ’cause I just read a post today in which the writer was describing trying to get teachers to use new digital technology. She found many teachers to be a little intimidated by “web 2.0” as something too foreign to relate to, and something that sounds too technical to be able to use.
    And like Hinchcliffe says, web 2.0 is about changing our behavior…How we deal with hierarchical relationships in business, school, society, how we connect to each other etc, and using technology to support these changes. So the web we are talking about – is it routers and servers, or is it people? I can see what you mean that social web isn’t good enough. But I think web 2.0 is too limiting.
    On the other hand, do we need to only use one name? Isn’t one of the principles of web 2.0 that meaning isn’t written in stone or removed from the possibility of redefinition and debate?

  5. I agree with you Nathan – I think for those outside of the web world the 2.0 term is extremely off-putting, and those of us who use the term constantly tend to forget just how ‘insider’ it sounds. Why indeed can’t we have more than one term for this shift?
    Social web works for me. Though it is perhaps strange to imply that web 1.0 was somehow ‘unsocial’, I think there is some truth in that. The change (to me) seems to have been to move us further away from a monologic towards a dialogic model of communication, and this applies to the effects on ‘old’ media (re ‘citizen journalism’, tv-on-demand and podcasting) as much as to any new web 2.0 technologies. These technologies are a crucial element, but to me they are more of an enabler, rather than the cause of, these changes.

  6. I dislike the term ‘social web’ because it is so limited. 2.0 implies a much larger and broader cultural shift. With 2.0 we can have Work 2.0, Health 2.0, Happiness 2.0 etc etc, all with fascinating implications. EG I was recently talking with a lawyer about the different culture that trainee lawyers now bring to their work, and we agreed that there is a need for Law 2.0, which would take into account social networking behaviours. In that example, the 2.0 is a very useful shorthand for the whole caboodle and not limited just to a single web technology.

  7. Interesting. Net Squared is specifically talking about Web 2.0, rather than AnythingElse 2.0, in its definition of ‘social web tools’. But you are talking about (just) 2.0 to suggest a set of (or changes in?) social networking behaviours… not necessarily caused by these web technologies or by the net in general?

Comments are closed.