blowmage A Mike Moore joint

Who killed Web 2.0?

This has been a difficult week for me. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow this week at the "Web 2.0 Conference": (of all places) Web 2.0 died.

Before this week I advocated for the notion of “Web 2.0” to those around me. Even with all the confusion over what exactly the title meant, I liked the title because it conveyed the new promise for the Web. (And it was certainly better than the title “Semantic Web”.) After the dot-com bust and the painful years that followed, the importance of the Web was diminished. The Web lost attention and respect. And this was our own fault; we got caught up in our own self-importance and greed. Web 2.0 was a turning point; it was our chance to do it over, to do it right. It wasn’t about technology as much as it is about fulfilling the original promise of what the Web should be.

We had a pretty good start too. Web services showed that Internet technologies were still innovative and that XML was useful for something other than configuration files. Google reminded us that the Web enables people and not technologies. Google also taught us that you can succeed by doing one thing and doing it well. Syndication feeds changed how users receive and view your content. AJAX showed you can be creative while building upon mature technologies. All this was happening because of people who believed in the promise of the Web post dot-com crash.

But then suddenly we lost our minds. We changed the notion of Web 2.0 to be something that it can’t be. We started using Web 2.0 as another item on our feature list. We started promoting Web 2.0 as a project management methodology. We started promoting Web 2.0 as a business plan. And although I didn’t attend O’Reilly’s “Web 2.0 Conference”, most of what I’ve gathered from the blogosphere is that the conference was little more than a bazaar for newly-minted start-ups to hype themselves as if we were in the throes of the dot-com bubble. We corrupted ourselves again and tarnished our ideal, and for what? A shot at some new VC cash? A handful of links from the regular bloggers?

Starting this week I hate the term Web 2.0. Now I have to go back to my job and just code. There is no greater good, there is no larger vision. Its just technology. You’ve killed my idealism. Again. Perhaps this was all my own fault for wanting to believe again. The more I think about it, the more Nicholas Carr is correct in his essay "The amorality of Web 2.0": where he states that those who view the Web in religious terms can "no longer see it objectively".

Coincidentally or not, this week I’ve been viewing the presentations and listening to the podcasts from last week’s "Web Essentials 2005": conference in Sidney, Australia. I was originally looking for broadcasts of the Web 2.0 Conference sessions, but apparently the principle of "transparency" only applies to Web 2.0, and not it's conferences. I can’t shake the thought that the Web Essentials conference is what the Web 2.0 Conference could and should have been. I encourage everyone to give them a listen. If anything, it washed the bad taste out in my mouth left by the Web 2.0 Conference.

Web 2.0 is dead, long live Web 2.0.