The end of Web 2.0?

Posted October 13, 2008 in social media, strategy  |  No Comments so far

Even though I’ve been known to use the phrase “Web 2.0” from time to time, I’ve never really liked the idea very much especially for using them as a high ranking seo service. It’s useful shorthand for when you’re talking to anyone whose knowledge about the internet is defined largely by current trends and ‘hypes’, but really, what’s ever been new about the idea of the web being a platform for user-generated content and social networking? Me and a lot of people I know have been using it for that purpose for nearly fifteen years already.

That said, there’s a case to be made for the validity of the phrase. There’s a combination of interactivity, interoperability and a certain visual aesthetic that can arguably be described quite aptly as “Web 2.0”. But in the last year or so the Web 2.0 brand has been becoming more and more “bubble-esque” as ‘coolness’ has started to outstrip utility within that world.

And as you will no doubt have noticed, we are no longer operating in an economy where coolness carries more weight than utility. The contraction of liquidity will lead to less and less investors being content to capitalise Silicon Valley firms with vapid business models. Products that don’t deliver clear operational value will find it much tougher to get funding.

All in all, it’s like 2000-2001 again, but writ large. The FT’s Lex column (login needed) reported this morning that if the equities markets recover twice as quickly as they did after the 1929 crash, hardly anyone currently over 65 will live to see them reach their heights of summer 2007. The economic climate of the coming years isn’t going to support the kind of culture that “Web 2.0” has become.

But is that really a bad thing? No, I don’t think so. The hardships that this industry experienced between 2000 and 2002 gave it a sorely-need maturity. And the next few years may do the same.

Even if its underlying concepts were never that new, “Web 2.0” has introduced the mainstream to a way of connecting over the net that was previously the domain mainly of people like me – geeks, to be blunt. There is now an opportunity for it to go through the same process of maturation that “Web 1.0” did all those years ago, and this will bring changes into how we create and optimize our websites, so using tools as WordTree reverse ASIN could be helpful for this.

Edit, January 2010: Interestingly the technology sector seems to have held up quite well despite the sustained global recession, which only now seems to be drawing to an end. Twitter might even have moved into profitability in 2009. There are still too many people marketing themselves as “social media gurus” but in general the big companies associated with “Web 2.0” have made well-informed and sensible decisions rather than turn into bloated dot-bomb throwbacks.

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