Can Web 2.0 appeal to the masses?

July 8, 2006

One of the things that I have been thinking about a lot lately is the separation between the “Technology Web” and the “Web for the Masses”.  Sure there is some cross-over like the fact that a ton of non-technical people enjoy Photobucket but, I think that there is still a great divide.  When (and if) is that divide going to collapse and what will be the driving factors?

One sign that there is a great divide can certainly be found in a topic that I talk a lot about.  The browsers.  Firefox is currently very appealing to the technical audience.  Those individuals that are not afraid of change.  Try something out, give it a chance.  Heck if you don’t like it, go back to what you were using before.

So what if Web 2.0 isn’t just the applications, frameworks, social networks.  What if it represents something bigger.  THE CHANGE!  I saw it in 1992 when I did my first project in college for an Economics professor.  I saw what the Internet could truly be.  I didn’t see the Internet for what it had to offer now.  Nobody did.  At that time it was severely underdeveloped.  I saw it for what it could be come.  This incredible tool for improving the communication in our lives.  Ok, so I will be honest, it helped me talk to my girlfriend at the time who was going to school at Richmond College but it was truly profound.  When I got into Web development in 1995 I started to truly understand that the Web could solve problems.

I saw that a local businessman whose current business for connecting fisherman in Galilee RI with potential clients in Japan could be 10 times more efficient by switching from the current Fax system to an Internet based application.  I saw that a Claims management company which digitally scanned claim forms as TIFF’s could cut paper and personnel costs by switching to a reporting system that was Web based.  The Internet and Web applications in general represented the “new” way of doing things.

So what of this new revolution.  Surely it is great that I can now store bookmarks in a global space and access those bookmarks from any computer in the world.  I understand what that means.  But what about those people out there that have no idea how the bookmarks they use are stored.  I still know countless people out there who have no idea how to even create a bookmark.  And they are very successful people with more money in the bank then I have.

What does 2.0 represent to them and how does it reach them.  In one sense, I say that 2.0 reaches them without them even knowing.  I remember my first job at the local ISP.  I spent time teaching people how the Internet worked and how they could send email and find information on the Web.  Some of the people that I taught were like “That’s it??”  “That’s the Internet???”  I was like…uh…yeah…don’t you get it.  This is amazing.

If Web 2.0 represents applications and frameworks then I say it is not going to last.  But, if Web 2.0 represents an idea.  An idea that the Computer and Web ARE the means for communicating.  If we can truly manage our lives on the Internet and it’s EASY.  Then we are in for a hell of a ride.

All this talk about Social Networking.  That isn’t something that just “happened”.  It wasn’t driven by software.  It was driven by the fact that there are more people living in the on-line world now then ever before and the number keeps growing.  Social Networking too me as a participant in the on-line world is like a global voice saying:

“OK… we bought into these computer things.  We trucked big pipelines to our houses and pay a ton of money a month to get a descent connection to the Interent.  No What?  Where do we go from here.  Web 2.0 is a trial. Can we get the masses to participate at a level us technical people have been accustomed to for years.  What can we learn from the masses who are going to look at this technology differently.  With their head tilted and with less of a desire to say “OK, that works for me”.

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4 Responses to “Can Web 2.0 appeal to the masses?”


  1. I think such things as tags, RSS, live bookmarks, blogs, and other items that are classified under Web 2.0 will slowly but surely find its way to the masses. Take live bookmarks in Mozilla–it’s such a fast, easy way to find the latest news headline, blog or forum entry, etc.

    As browsers get more up-to-date (are you listening, Microsoft?), I think even more people will get into RSS feeds and live bookmarks. It’s a pretty exciting time, I’d say, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  2. notronwest Says:

    BHR,

    Live Bookmarks! yeah I agree. They are very valuable. My thought about Live Bookmarks is that “the masses” will be using Live Bookmarks without even knowing it.

    FYI – Microsoft is listening: https://notronwest.wordpress.com/2006/05/19/61/

    I was amazed at how much IE has done with IE7 – now if they can ever get it out of beta.


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