Describing a company or concept as “Web 2.0” is so, last half-decade. Nevermind that most people still haven’t heard the phrase. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and poll your office or family: unless you’re not allowed out of the IT dungeon or your family all work as tech-bloggers, my guess is that they haven’t heard or don’t understand the term.
This isn’t really surprising. If you hear about a “new internet phenomenon” on mainstream news, the chances are it’s either on it’s way out or is so firmly entrenched as to be unremarkable. For a perfect example of this, look up ‘Facebook’ in a national publication and note the language used to describe it’s shiny-new cover–regardless of the fact that most people reading this blog will have been on Facebook (or gone off Facebook) at least a year ago!
It even now seems that there may be a financial impact on describing your new startup as “web 2.0”. According to Mashable!, several VC’s are stating quite clearly that they won’t back Web 2.0. I have also noticed talk of bubbles breaking and ‘meteoric rises’ with the implication that it won’t last very much longer. So many potential break-throughs won’t see their funding if they’re too 2.0.
This phenomenon is firmly entrenched in ‘techy’ social networks like Digg. When I dugg a news story about the semantic web, I noticed the overwhelming majority of comments were along the lines of “semantic web is so cliche”, or “Watch out, here comes Semantic Web 2.0, Run!”. Semantic web is a term which has only been widely used recently (relative to “Web 2.0” which was popularised by web stalwart O’Reilly Way back in 2005) and is already met with derision and sarcastic scorn.
To some extent, I think this is a good thing. If VC’s and financial backers are waking up to this, it means there might be more competition for funding and an increase in the quality of online startups. It might also mean some updates and refreshing of already-started-ups. While techy scorn is easy to find and probably doesn’t mean too much, the reality behind the bluster might just be the next set of updates to real users’ online experiences. Oh, and don’t try calling it “Web 3.0”. Just don’t.
There’s no pleasing everyone, but it seems to me that Web 2.0 is a phenomenon which, if you’re not already using it on a daily basis (on Facebook, following Twitter, using Gmail), it’s probably better not to talk about it. Webby people will start to question your breeding and choice of apparel!