Monday, June 11, 2007

Web 2.0

The following has been taken from Talesblog with permission. Copyright © Chris Chan.

Web 2.0“. It’s the latest internet buzzword. However, I’m liking the term less and less the more I hear it. This is due to some different things- the Web 2.0 concept is evolutionary not revolutionary, the general “2.0″ stigma, and the nauseating ubiquity of the “Web 2.0″ term. However, I still like the Web 2.0 concept, if not the term.

The Web 2.0 concept isn’t as revolutionary as people make it out to be. User-generated content has been around in some form or another for over a decade - just look at the state of Geocities or Angelfire in 1996 or so. Now Myspace is fast becoming the next Geocities: background music and horribly annoying layouts. (By the way, Xinruilian’s website needs to lose the front page flash and background music. It’s very unprofessional. But that’s for another blog entry.) Anyway, it’s just now that user-generated content is expanding into different forms of media, like video on Youtube. I would say that that’s just natural evolution, rather than some big revolution to be heralded as an entirely different major version number, 2.0.

Speaking of “2.0″, there’s a certain stigma associated with that version number. Take for example Microsoft Windows 2.0. While I have never personally had the misfortune of using that version, I’ve read that it’s horribly buggy, and that the first version of Windows that was actually worth using was Windows 3.11. (Personally, I think the only version of Windows worth using is Windows 2000. It’s relatively stable, and not bloated to the extreme.) Take as another example Firefox 2.0. While I personally prefer it over Fx1.5 because of the integrated spellchecker and other features, others regard it as unnecessarily bloated and unstable. Shiira 2.0 is another “2.0″ browser, one that is actually very buggy and unstable. (It’s for Mac OS X.) The last example is the Texas Instruments TI-34 II calculator. While this isn’t a “2.0″ product per se, it’s still got a horrible user interface. It hides the sine, cosine, and tangent functions under a series of menus, and those are some of the most frequently used keys.

My third point of contention with the “Web 2.0″ term is its nauseating ubiquity. It has over 187 million Google results, and that’s even when it’s in quotes. I can’t even tell you how many times the term has appeared in my IRC logs. I could grep it, but my server would explode from the memory overload. I’m a penniless student, so I wouldn’t have any money to replace it. Suffice it to say that I become nauseated at the first mention of it in any IRC channel.

All this dislike of the term “Web 2.0″ should of course not be misconstrued as my dislike of the underlying concepts, like user-generated content and web applications. Webapps enable more efficient use of the browser; Gmail and Meebo rock my socks. User-generated content is fast re-democratising the internet and taking absolute power from the big content providers. Social networking, as on Myspace and Facebook, connects me with old friends and enables me to make new ones. “Web 2.0″ concepts improve the internet continuously, but I need to see a lot less use of the term.

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