Excellent Web 2.0 hype deflation talk

Via Jay Fienberg, via the IAI discussion list, I hear of this excellent post by professor David Silver about a talk Silver did recently on the Web 2.0 meme.

Silver starts out lauding the amazing, communal experience of blogs and mashups of blogs and RSS feeds and other Web 2.0 goodness, and then gets into giving some needed perspective:

then i stepped back and got critical. first, i identified web 2.0 as a marketing meme, one intended to increase hype of and investment in the web (and web consultants) and hinted at its largely consumer rather than communal directions and applications. second, i warned against the presentism implied in web 2.0. today’s web may indeed be more participatory but it is also an outgrowth of past developments like firefly, amazon’s user book reviews, craigslist, and ebay – not to mention older user generated content applications like usenet, listservs, and MUDs. third, i argued against the medium-centricness of the term web 2.0. user generated content can and does exist in other media, of course, including newspapers’ letters to the editor section, talk radio, and viewers voting on reality tv shows. and i ended with my all-time favorite example of user generated content, the suggestion box, which uses slips of paper, pencils, and a box.

I think this is very true, and good stuff to hear. (Even in the peculiar lower-case typing…fun!) Group participation has been growing steadily on the Internet in one form or another for years.

I do think, though, that some tipping point hit in the last few years. Tools for personal expression, simple syndication, a cultural shift in what people expect to be able to do online, and the rise of broadband and mobile web access — the sum has become somehow much greater than its parts.

Still, I think he’s right that the buzzword “Web 2.0” is mainly an excellent vehicle for hype that gets people thinking they need consultants and new books. (Tim O’Reilly is a nice guy, I’m sure, but he’s also a business man and publisher who knows how to get conversations started.)

Silver mentions Feevy, a sort of ‘live blogroll’ tool for blogs — it has an excerpt of the latest post by each person on your blogroll. Neato tool. I may have to try it out!

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  • http://silverinsf.blogspot.com david silver

    hey andrew – thanks for taking the time to read and write about my blog post on web 2.0. i really like how ideas that were originally organized for a particular and physical audience can be distributed, shared, and added to via blogs. and i’m psyched that jay took the time to share the post with other information architects.

    i completely agree with you regarding the tipping point – although web 2.0 has been building for a while there is something very real happening right now. and i dig your list of some of the factors making that happen: easy to publish tools, simple syndication, cultural shifts among users, broadband, and mobile access.

    rss really seems to be driving so much. i think fred stutzman said it so well when he called it rss culture.

    i really hope you get a chance to try out feevy. at this point, most of the documentation is in spanish so please let me know if you have any questions regarding setting it up, experimenting, etc.