Web 2.0 and the Art of Bull
Marketing is the art of making something seem better than it really is. -Suso Banderas
Marketing. Ain’t it grand? All those jingles in your head, all the brands you buy, all the old AOL discs you have floating around… who is to thank? Marketing. Marketing and developer trends have pretty much been independent of each other as most developers seem to have a firm grasp on what is being marketed to them and what the genuine article is (hence Linux wasn’t just a pipe dream). Marketing was mostly left to the business people who couldn’t fit in technical manuals in between their yachting and weekly car buying agendas. They didn’t care what virus protection was, or Y2k, or what-have-you… they just knew they needed it. And that, my friends, is why I hate this Web 2.0 crap.
Note: before I go digging myself too far into this, I would like to note that I, myself, use the term Web 2.0. I use it to make dullards eyes light up. In addition, there are some who say AJAX is a marketing term… with that I disagree, although I’m sympathetic.
Another Note: If you couldn’t tell, I’m not pulling these quotes out of my rear. I want to thank the owner of http://en.wikiquote.org/ for the ironic use of his application.
What is Web 2.0? Well let’s see what the ideal Web 2.0 application, wikipedia.org, has to say about this:
Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the Web.
I was tempted to edit the article and post that, but opted instead to just give you the real thing as it’s just as good. You see that last line? “… it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the way software developers and end-users use the Web.”
So, basically, and correct me if I’m wrong, this guy (whose books I love), who gets money by being on the leading publishing end of technology books up and decides he’s going to create a new term to describe user-driven content. I’m sorry if I imply any conspiracy here, but let’s face it, it’s pretty convenient that someone who makes his living publishing on buzzwords makes a fortune from books using his own buzzword.
And it gets better! Developers bought into it! Not just a little… but a LOT! Right now, somewhere, some developer is talking about how Web 2.0 his application is and how much more Web 2.0 is it than someone else’s.
Once I worked for a man who was … as we call… a snake oil salesman. No worries, if you’re reading this and were my former contract, unless you changed your last name to a word synonymous with “happy”, you’re not him. He hired this guy to make his sites for him, and that guy, for some reason which is far beyond my understanding, was in charge of me. This guy was a developer himself, but he really wasn’t all that great and had a lot he could learn from me… if he wasn’t so convinced how good he was. All that angst aside… imagine my astonishment when this overrated developer listens to what the contract wanted to make and says, “Why, your application isn’t just Web 2.0! It’s Web 3.0!!!”
I cannot sigh hard enough. That job was the only one I felt like I handled wrong. As soon as I heard that, I should have walked out. Why? Bullsh*t, that’s why.
(I’m not fooling anyone with the star, but I don’t want to get anyone in trouble either. I curse like a sailor in person, but I’d rather keep my blog relatively clean.)
That’s why I loathe and detest Web 2.0. Nothing’s changed. Applications have *always* been user-run. I was using AJAX before AJAX had a real name, I just didn’t know it was AJAX until my boss told me. And that’s it… when you run business, you like acronyms and buzzwords. When we as developers stop thinking of Web2.0 as a technique and more as a buzzword, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be hearing about Web 3.0.
As I am spiteful and desire no good to come to O’Reilly for doing such things, maybe we should keep talking about Web 2.0…