Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0

May 3, 2007

As Mike posted about “RSS in Plain English” , it reminded me of some of the conversations we have been having at work as we try to jump-start discussions surrounding our companies general approach to Web 2.0 (which includes a healthy dose of RSS). I spoke at internal round table last week about RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs and their place in the Web Content Management space. Particularly, focusing on how RSS was effecting the Enterprise business world and how our product would be growing to support that need. During my work, I came across a great video (like a great cult movie these days you need to watch it a couple of times to pick up everything) which helps to dispel the myths about Web 2.0.

What I found to be well done in the video was the process of not only describing what Web 2.0 is today but how we got here. How HTML was built as a markup language which was

“…designed to describe the structure of a web document … such elements defined how content would be formatted. In other words, form and content became inseparable in HTML…”

In the early days of pure HTML development, the tags were the power. <b> for something bold, <i> for something italics. We coded because we wanted to designate that something was important and should be looked at differently. We were not thinking about the actual content in the context of the document, we were simply saying “when this is displayed on the Web we want it to look like ‘x’.”

What is remarkable about the current changes on the Web is that they are not simply architectural changes (support for semantic style markup like <address>4222 Clinton Avenue</address>) but it was also the explosion of the user compiled data:

Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site useable. Owners of Adobe, Apple and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum web pages. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organising intelligence for a new economy. [excerpt from “Unto us a machine is born”]

Nobody could have ever imagined how much the consumers of the world would contribute to the web and it’s over all growth. In some articles it is said that a new blog is born every 1/2 second. When I first started blogging at WordPress.com (which was admittedly way after the general populous started) there were roughly 190K blogs. In the short amount of time that I have been active in the blogsphere, that number has grown to an astonishing 900K+.

So as this data grows and the web spins out of control, we must start thinking about the next thing. How many times have you gotten to a great Digg article, only to find that 850 people had already commented on this article. Rendering the comments section of this article completely useless. Who can sort through that many comments and make heads or tails of anything relevant to the discussion. Likewise, how do you weed out the unproductive comments that prove we still have a long way to go as a society? You don’t, that’s how!

One thing I will say that I have spoken about in the past (and is iterated in the article mentioned above) is that the system is growing and the tools that are becoming available to us are opening up our use-able networks. We are currently connected (most of us) with way more people then we were in the past. Additionally, we are capable of maintaining relationships with hundreds of people at at time through many different outlets.

I am not sure that we are “teaching the Machine (a.k.a. the Internet)” but I can say this, when I get involved with projects like Behavioral Targeting I can truly say that we are living in a remarkable time, and I am glad to be a part of it.

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5 Responses to “Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0”

  1. mikull Says:

    whew.. behavioral marketing; gives our PR guy that crazy eye look… i’ll tell you what, i’ve been running websites for years now, and it still comes down to one thing- the human experience. allow me to be a little vain in my reply.

    i consider my site successful because i maintain a consistent community. nothing close to the likes of digg or myspace; i don’t sell anything or host ads that make me money; i don’t even think i’m cutting edge… but it’s a ‘safe’ place for the 100 or so readers, and 50 or so on/off ‘content contributors’. sure, i built the road, but they are the ones driving (on) it.

    this driving force of web 2.0 isn’t new, it’s only the way to describe technology catching up. it all sorta peaked, and that was that- but before the blog explosion, before i even registered a domain to brand an address on my community, i was running message boards. the same people who posted on my message boards back in ’95 (which were hosted, looked like crap, yadda yadda)- are the same people posting on and reading over mikull.com today. slowly but surely my friends and family were joined by my co-workers, their friends and families, as well as bleed-in’s from other boards and blogs i worked on. sharing the human experience.

    i use this analogy a lot, but i believe in it- 10-15 years ago everyone i knew who enjoyed exploring the possibilities of technology like i did were making ‘free websites’ to share their interests, their dreams, and pictures of their pets. the web evolves, and it’s a damn cool thing- the best of brains reflected the human element in their technology. a free geocities account; a yahoo account; an amazon S3 storage spot and/or a server running wordpress- feeds from everywhere, links to everything… i don’t know what’s next. but despite the evolution of web, mikull.com members are still talking about news and events, movies and music, sports and jokes. rapid fire information, enhanced multimedia… man, it’s easier and way more fun now than ever- to share pictures of our pets. you see, it’s still sorta the same, you know? the human experience. there’s point in there somewhere; like you said, crazy thoughts…

  2. notronwest Says:

    Ahh… the argument that none of this new! Awesome! Glad you said it. I was thinking the same damn thing when I was writing this and I kept saying to myself “What about all of those newsgroups, message boards and forums”? Isn’t this the same thing? Or at least an extension of this. Answer is no! This is different and there are few reasons why:
    1.) Mass adoption – this happening on such a larger scale then we first got started. Hate to say it man but we were great guinea pigs. All of those newsgroup messages and forum posts – yeah they “felt” like Web 2.0 but the shear exposure makes this different
    2.) It is making it’s way into everything – read this about USA Today. We are moving into a new realm – almost to the place where every web page is alive. Not just blogs and wiki’s – all information is available with some added comments from the rest of the world.

    Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of similarities here, but the tone is so different.

  3. mikull Says:

    i agree with you, really; nevertheless, i’m going to play devil’s advocate… because I’m an @#$%^&*.

    1.) Mass Adoption: if we now live on Web 2.0, there was only 1 version before now. We just called it the web, it did all that stuff I/we talked about- and man was it ever adopted… on a mass scale.

    2.) Making it’s way into everything- Before there was web 2.0, there was still a www for everything, right? I mean, everything baby!

    Here’s what I say is the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, if there is really such a thing: developers empowered the people to do more than ever before thought possible, and then to integrate that something more into everything else on the web…. well sure, there’s a different tone; it had never been easier to do… Hooks and loops, baby. The vehicle we knew as the web just got better, giving the people the power! But let’s face it, I’m all crazy talk now.

    PS. I’ve been secretly developing the Web 3.0. It surfs you!

  4. Gina Says:

    User-empowerment is what Web 2.0 is really all about. The technology is finally enabling everyone to speak their mind and connect with others. Check out http://www.nexo.com, free and easy online groups. It’s a great example of how web 2.0 technology is enabling users to communicate and interact in groups of all sorts, sports teams, families and friends, work groups, affiliations, clubs, etc.

  5. notronwest Says:

    Gina,
    Thanks for your comment. To be fair to the community (and to be honest to the medium itself) I would ask that you post your comments with the not so objective email address you are more commonly known to answer to:

    gjorasch@nexo.com

    That would allow readers to make a better determination as to the validity of your comment. Like are you a fan of nexo, using nexo as an example or are you trying to market nexo to people that may be interested.

    By adding the correct email address to your comment it allows users to form a better opinion.

    Thanks!


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