originally posted at qwezy.com
Is this web 2.0?
Nah. What we have here – community, real-time content delivery, user participation (+ pastels, rounded corners, and not a serif in sight) – is damn important, but is it really worthy of being called the next major iteration of the WWW? Probably not. Sure, there’s been a lot of technical innovation over the past few years – RSS, Ruby on Rails, and a bunch of other RAD stuff – but what has it done for “we the people”? Has it really changed the way your mom surfs the web?
To most people, the kind of people who would never find this post and most posts like it, the (web now) = (old web) – (ugly) + (Google). It’s not about digg and RSS, it’s about nytimes.com and weather.com, and if you’re really lucky, Wikipedia—but be sure most of these people don’t even know they can edit it.
The only places where the 2.0 magic has met the masses are at MySpace and YouTube, and I doubt we want to associate “the 2.0 movement” with the former, and Google now owns the latter, so I don’t think that counts.
The point is that the big shift was from the really early days of the web (BBS, pine, lynx, etc.) to the bubble-web (late ‘90s), and honestly, not much has changed since then—for the average person. For us, the people who know what “hacker” means, whose favorite Google release was the API, who believe in OSS and the WC3… the Wikipedia admins, redditers, and scholars (.google.com)… the children of the Web, so to speak—the landscape couldn’t be more different.
But until this stuff hits the mainstream, until your average person uses the Web for more than e-mail, news, and the occasional Facebook/MySpace check, I don’t think we can justify a 2.0.
OK, tough guy… What next?
Before we get there, we need to challenge ourselves to think outside the community. Let’s take reddit as an example. Here are a couple of guys (Aaron Swartz and Paul Graham) that most of us envy as developers and entrepreneurs. Here’s an application that’s lightweight, efficient, and incredibly useful. Here’s a group of submitters and commenters that’s self-moderated and productive. So what’s the problem?
There’s digg. digg started like reddit, a place for nerds to hang out, challenge slashdot, feel empowered by their opinion, and talk about the stuff that interested them. Then it got over itself, built a pretty interface, opened up categories beyond tech (“Funny Videos,” “World Business”), got conventional VC funding, and took the world by storm. digg finally brought the technology that makes reddit so cool to the masses, and is getting mad dividends for it. The thing is, the masses have always wanted that technology, because they, too, are not only capable of everything that makes web 2.0 so “2.0” (collaboration, participation, dynamic interaction), but they’re eager for it. It’s just that so few people have had the balls to give it to them, or that they take too long. It seems that since the bubble, people are so afraid of blowing up that they never get out of beta. When most of the world thinks that beta is a sorority or a just a squiggly “B”, that’s a big problem.
I’m not saying we should stop building tight-knit communities for ourselves, or that we should favor bloated and pretty over lightweight and functional. What I’m saying is that as developers, designers, diggers, Wikipedians, redditers, Sourceforgers, and hackers, we are going to create this revolution – the real web 2.0 – and until we embrace the world that it’s going to change, it’s never going to happen.