Web 2.0: Just Jargon or Great Marketing?

Tim Berners-Lee clarified the term "Web 2.0" recently. Very nice. Dan Farber and Gavin Clark cover his comments in depth. Basically, Berners-Lee said that Web 2.0 is "a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means" ... among other things. I agree the term is jargon, and I agree with Tim's supporting explanation as well (I'm just pulling the headline here). Web 2.0 as a term never made much sense to me. The examples used to substantiate the term always seemed weak and obvious since I've been working with and benefiting from these tools for quite some time. So, I just never got what the big deal was all about. I had the same feeling when I heard "Web services" used to explain whatever people were talking about a few years ago, too. But as a rhetorical phenomenon, I think Web 2.0 is much more interesting than Web services.

Anyway ... here are some other Web 2.0 opinions around the Berners-Lee comments ...

From Dan Farber: The 2.0 proliferation is simply a natural effect of human intelligence at work – marketers, conference creators, journalists, pundits and lexicographers all trying to capture  themes, the essense of movements in time and give them names that have iconic, instant recognition, although the deeper meaning will be in the eye of the beholder.

From Gavin Clarke: You should thank Tim Berners-Lee. Not just for giving us the web, but for articulating what's gone wrong in the lexicon and thinking of Silicon Valley. Hopefully, his standing in the web community will serve as a rallying cry for right-thinking individuals and true visionaries, and mean Web 2.0 is put in its proper context.

I basically agree with both of those guys. And I'm no longer shy about asking the jargon pushers to please stop and re-explain what they are talking about in plain language. People who care about being understood will generally -- and happily -- explain something in a different way when asked nicely. They realize that being understood is (mostly) the responsibility of the speaker or writer, not the listener or the reader.

So, is Web 2.0 jargon? To a point, yes I think it is. But I also think it's a pretty good marketing communications campaign because you have to admit that it has attracted a significant amount of attention in some markets. It's also taken on a life of its own, and that's what's so interesting about this. Will it last? Who knows. Did it need to exist? Probably not. Sometimes us little people out here don't need all those experts to complicate the obvious. The Web is evolving and getting better and you can do more with it. Ok. Thank you. Back to Tim Berners-Lee. Or maybe I just don't get it.
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