Web 2.0 or Blah 2.0?
With apologies to the Marcus Angermeier whose original is the famous:
What is Web 2.0?
I was asked this question this week by the organiser of an event that I was asked to talk about called "Power your Business with Web 2.0" (I can't seem to direct link the event on the Creative Networks site?)
You know what - it stumped me. And apparently even the guy who came up with the term finds it difficult to simplify it into terms that are understandable by the layman. Basically - it's shorthand for 'how the web works now'.
So here's a summary of the talk Pete Ashton and I gave in which we attempted to explain what Web 2.0 is (or is not) and how it is relevant for small creative businesses
The video will be online 'soon' so I won't repeat everything here until I post it. But for those who were there or couldn't make it, here are the slides:
Why Blah 2.0?
I've become a little fed up recently at a trend in people involved in the web to use the term 'Web 2.0' to describe pretty much anything to do with something being 'new' and 'on the web'.
I've become increasingly concerned that people are just using the term to cash in on the hype and sell upgrades to websites on the basis that everyone needs to 'webtwoize' their sites.
"Let's add a forum!"
"Hang on how about a blog too!"
"I know why don't we get all of our customers to sign up to the site and give them a profile where they can customise the homepage?"
"We need those little icons that say 'delicious' and 'tasty' at the bottom of every page!"
"Can we get the logo all reflective and everything too?"
I'm calling it 'blah 2.0' because the language that is used to describe this thing hasn't been updated for a while, and it's still based on geeky technologies. Which creative business owner actually knows what XHTML, CSS, Semantic Web, AJAX, etc are?
I asked my partner Emily Quinton what she thought the term meant and she said "that geeky stuff you do".
This is someone whose business revolves around a solid Google advertising campaign, blogging (and getting her name in Professional Photographer magazine as a result), using Flickr to connect with other photographers around the world and is now on Twitter building an international network of peers.
So it's time to beware of people talking about this 'new web' and avoid the 'Timeshare 2.0' effect, and especially time for creative businesses to be thinking about what they are trying to achieve online.
What's great is that there are plenty of free tools available to make doing business a lot easier - and that's the part of "Web 2.0" that's actually really exciting for small businesses. Google Apps for instance has levelled the playing field for running any kind of small business to a price point of zero for word processing, email, spreadsheets and presentations.
"Web 2.0" is just a fancy term that marketeers are using to make their products more attractive to customers. To the average creative business it's just 'The Web' with a PR campaign.
Once you realise that, you can look past the hype at how anyone can use the tools available and feel a part of the online community without feeling like you are somehow 'on the outside looking in'.
We're now in a situation where '2.0' is being used as a lazy shorthand to describe anything that has the remotest intentions of relating to the future of an industry.
Conferences that have popped up on the radar recently:
Identity 2.0, PR 2.0, Business 2.0, Community 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and my absolute favourite:
Call Center 2.0 (I'm not kidding).
It's pretty clear to me that the nature of most business models is changing because of the influence of an increased uptake of technology, particularly in the use of the web. But when 'Call Center 2.0' pops up on your radar you pretty much know that the term 'Web 2.0' is now little more than part of the furniture.
In fact, the term 'Web 2.0' has very little to do with the underlying technologies involved. Who cares if you're using AJAX on a Ruby on Rails platform to connect to an OpenID provider through an API? Not the user. What they care about is 'is it easy to use?' and 'is it useful?'
So my advice to creative businesses is to look past the hype of the term "Web 2.0" and look around at what exciting things people are doing with the web in their respective niches.
It's perfectly acceptable to be 'technologically illiterate' in this space - it doesn't matter if you don't know how it all works, but if you know how to get your message out effectively by perhaps setting up a blog, using Facebook to promote your work, setting up a LinkedIn profile for your professional profile, maybe giving away some of your expertise for free and getting involved in an online community of your peers, then you're destined for online success.