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Why Web 2.0 Should be Web 2.x

The Basic Principles Have Gotten Lost in the Fluff

This article originally appeared on the NOW Magazine blog.

Follow the author at www.twitter.com/strukhoff or www.nowmagazineblog.blogspot.com

The global economic crisis focuses IT buyers' minds on efficiency and immediate financial benefits. Real software in areas such as business intelligence (BI) and complex-event processing (CEP) is in vogue. Abstract thinking is not.

Thus comes what might be the final nail in Web 2.0's coffin. When's the last time you heard someone use the term non-ironically, with a straight face? How often is it said now without being archly surrounded by "air quotes" ?

I've always thought that the main problem with the term was its glibness. Well, duh. But listen for a sec...

There are many important concepts within Web 2.0 thinking. The problem is that the real term should have been Web 2.x, to describe steady, ongoing improvements to the Web.

Instead, the Web 2.0 name just served as the latest, ugh, revolution from Silicon Valley that you either "get" or don't, featuring fatuous "entrepreneurs" who want that quick jakcpot, reported on breathlessly by fatuous "journalists" who want that same jackpot.

But there was tremendous value in the original Web 2.0 conception. Go back to Tim O'Reilly's original Web 2.0 article in 2005: http://tinyurl.com/743r5

Sure, it has a "meme map," ascribes importance to nonsensical notions such as The Long Tail--and may in retrospect have been written solely to serve as the launching pad for a pretentious conference and a new generation of social networking consultants.

But it is a very long, serious article written in an earnest and sweeping way that, if nothing else, provides a nice tutorial of the software industry up to that point in time.

And it outlined principles of real importance, as you can see when they are presented unadorned:

1. The Web is a Platform

2. Harness Collective Intelligence

3. Data is the Next Intel Inside (ok, this one is confusing, but it hits on the importance of who owns the data, something that puts companies such as Google and Facebook in the news almost daily)

4. It's the End of the Software Release Cycle (thereby leading to why it should be called Web 2.x, btw!)

5. Lightweight Programming is in Ascendance

6. Software Should be Written for Many Devices

7. Focus on Rich User Experiences

As Tim O'Reilly himself said in the original outline:

"The next time a company claims that it's 'Web 2.0,' test their features against the list above. The more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. Remember, though, that excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven."

Well, I have to disagree with his final point. It is the collection of small steps that leads to profound, long-lasting change. But yes, Yet check features against the list by all means! This is how you will achieve your ongoing, Web 2.x breakthroughs!

Today there are legions of young people throughout the world (and some older ones of the "right age") happily texting, tweeting, gathering, posting, slinging pix and video all over the place, joyfully oblivious as to whether that are part of Web 2.0, smart crowds, social networking, or any other such ephemera that passes for Silicon Valley wisdom and philosophy.

They "get it" in a way that has no pretension. They don't talk about this stuff, they just do it. Would that everyone would do the same. Treat Web 2.0 as an ongoing series of ever less-buggy releases--a Web 2.x approach--and we will no longer endure stories about the "death of Web 2.0" or "waiting for Web 3.0."

Viva Web 2.x !!

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.