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What’s in a name?

So, James Governor’s recent comment (though I’m not sure this was his point) got me thinking some more about killer apps and Web 2.0. There seems to be a fair bit of buzz around the blogosphere in this regard today, too. The question that Marnie Webb at Netsquared asked Robert Scoble is a pretty good place to start: “is Web 2.0 merely hype?” Marshall Kirkpatrick asks a similar thing on his blog, too.

First, I do not believe Web 2.0 is purely hype, no matter how much hype exists (and, let’s be honest, there is a lot of hype right now). That said, if it’s more than just hype, what is it? We all seem to grasp at that particular straw, and very few folks seem to be able to put their finger on just what Web 2.0 really means. The folks in my blogroll (especially Governor, Anne Zelenka [though she’s probably starting to think I’m a stalker], and Richard McManus) do a better job than most.

It’s important to look at who does Web 2.0 well. In my “Best of 2005” list, I mentioned five companies (OK, eight) that I thought “got it.” One (MyBlogLog) is less of a Web 2.0 company, than one that enables the Web 2.0 environment. The rest, whether its, tech.memeorandum, Digg, or LinkedIn, give their users access to their information from anywhere.

Fundamentally, Web 2.0 has almost nothing to do with technology (though without the benefits specific technologies like Ajax or RSS enable, Web 2.0 wouldn’t exist). Instead, this collective, connective, collaborative environment represents, more than anything, a shift in consumers’ expectations of their role in the media authoring and product development process. Both Steve Rubel and Edelman talk about this in recent posts. Edelman goes a step further, trumping Web 2.0 by referring to this shift as the “Me2 Revolution.” James Governor even gives some great examples (such as Craigslist) that demonstrate the new world order pretty world.

Still, just because consumers have cracked into the formerly closed world of media authoring and product development doesn’t mean that Web 2.0 has produced its killer app yet. I love I think it’s the coolest Web 2.0 app I’ve seen. Flickr and Technorati are pretty great, too. And of course, there’s this whole blogging thing. Maybe you’ve heard of it. But I haven’t seen the one thing that’s going to make everyone sit up, slap their foreheads, and say “Wow! So that’s what they’ve been talking about all along.” I could be wrong about this. I’d be curious to hear what you think.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. I don’t think you’re a stalker… I think you are a good judge of thinkers 😉

    It’s clear to me something new is going on with Web 2.0, and people who say it’s just hype can’t see it for some reason. I agree, it’s not so much the technology but the shift in how consumers meet the world; it’s a social shift. I can’t think of anything I’d nominate for Web 2.0 killer app, but maybe that’s because it’s not primarily about technology. The various services that support us are necessary for the Web 2.0 revolution but they’re not the revolution itself. The revolution is us! Power to and from the people!

  2. Agreed on all counts, Anne, as usual. We’re totally on the same page about this one with regard to what the meaning of this whole thing is.

    I also continue to think there will be a killer app at some point. Don’t know what it is (obviously); I just feel confident that it’s coming.

    Keep up the great stuff.

  3. […] Newsweek has decided to put Web 2.0 on its cover this week. Is it just me, or does the irrational exuberance of a few years back seem like it’s just around the corner again? I’m as keen to see a return to fun and excitement on the Web as anyone. I just worry that we’re about to see a whole bunch of folks repeat the mistakes of the past. At least this time, it seems that a number of folks are thinking through how to make money on the deal, instead of this “selling a dollar for 90 cents and make it up on volume” silliness we all dealt with the first time through. Tim Leberecht (who I’ve just started reading, thanks to Technorati), has a viewpoint on this, too, recapping the recent thoughts here about whether Web 2.0 can live up to its hype. Check it out. It’s worth the read. […]

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