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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Web 2.0: O'Really?

Web 2.0 has been a buzzword for quite sometime now. Ever since it was coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004, it’s generally been accepted that the term really means nothing new. Yes one touch publishing through blogs become possible, voice transmission through VOIPs has become popular and now youtube has become a default TV. But the components to make these things possible have been present since the advent of the web.

Maybe the broader definition which links data transmission speeds with the web version is the more practical view point. Dial up connection 56 kbps line are simply Web 1.0, 1mbps lines are Web 2.0 and so on. Yet if we choose this criterion, then in India, Web 2.0 is still just a possibility. The year of the broadband has arrived, but like Y2K it is more hype than byte.

Given the internet and software industries obsession with the ‘next big thing’, there is already a buzz about the Web 3.0 and the semantic web. This seems a little skewed especially when the components or the evolution of content and networking related to these terms is either available or not yet developed.

On the whole, as one article claims, Web 2.0 is just a marketing term. It can signify just about anything that the salesperson wants it to mean. In this way it is a perfect zinger, use it and define it according to your needs. Of course since it does not mean the upgrading of the infrastructure that net runs on (from the cable to the protocols), the term is pretty much like a souped up vintage car. Even if you paint it red, put polyvinyl spoilers and radials, the car still does about 15 Kms on a litre of fuel.

So why the buzz and hype? What is the need to emphasize on something that you already have? Or on something that your obsolete internet connection wont let you use?

Well it just follows a trend that is as old as the software and hardware industry. Like the Intel 'Core Duo' processor, which allows you a million options that you won’t ever use, Web 2.0 is another way to make you pay. The website would have you believe otherwise, but maybe the internet connection prices (the ‘UPTO’ 1 Mbps connections) will shed more light on this. Want to use heavier applications? Upgrade the RAM and the processor (in affect upgrade your PC). Want all the luxuries of Web 2.0? Pay for a better connection. Want to download more stuff? Then get an internet plan which has a slower connection and so on…

While critics talk about the lack of a revenue model, every site that successfully uses the term Web 2.0 laughs its way to the bank. Maybe Ananad Shankar, of The Hindu should have though about this before writing the thoroughly obscure article in the papers today.

3 comments:

Illusive Mind said...

Nice article, I think you really penetrate this multifaceted yet empty term.

.::[ Mani Karthik ]::. said...

Great thoughts there Arjun.

Sramana said...

Hi Arjun,

I agree with you. Have you read my definition of Web 3.0? Please read this: Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS). And for a series of examples, you can see my analysis of the Personal Finance category from a Web 3.0 perspective.