Web 2.0? There’s no such thing!


I attended a few months ago a presentation on web 2.0. by the excellent Irish blogger Tom Raftery. First, I must say that the lecture was widely appreciated by my colleagues. Personally, I was disappointed by one thing: Tom started his presentation by telling the audience web 2.0 could hardly be defined. I must admit he’s right and the definition given by wikipedia is far from satisfying. 

If web 2.0 is pretty hard to define it’s maybe because it doesn’t really exist. I mean most “definitions” of web 2.0 could apply to amazon user reviews, ebay, epinions.com, all the dating sites, some porn sites, msn or yahoo groups.  I remember an old article (couldn’t retrieve the article but this one is as relevant) where Tim Berners-Lee expressed his doubts about the reality of web 2.0.  Of course, the pace of innovation has never been bigger and adaptation is key.

In my presentations, I try to explain there’s no revolution but a fast evolution based on 3 elements: broadband growth, web technologies, non-web technologies (like digital photography or HDMI connections on televisions). Those elements lead to more consumer empowerment and impact again the demand for new technologies and more bandwidth that will lead to more empowerment, and so on… 

To conceptualize what today’s internet is all about, I also found a little help in the study of philosophy. The French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari published in 1980 a book called “a thousand plateaus” (mille plateaux). A Thousand Plateaus is organized around the distinction between ‘arborescent’ and ‘rhizomatic’ 

(quoted from http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ecd/rhizomatic.html )

“Rhizomatic thought is non-linear, anarchic, and nomadic. Rhizomes create smooth space, and cut across boundaries imposed by vertical lines of hierarchicies and order. Rhizomatic thought is multiplicitous, moving in many directions and connected to many other lines of thinking, acting, and being. Rhizomatic thinking deterrorializes arbolic striated spaces and ways of being. Rhizomes are networks. Rhizomes cut across borders. Rhizomes build links between pre-existing gaps between nodes that are separated by categories and order of segmented thinking”

The rhizome has multiple entranceways, connects any point to any point and is non hierarchical. And today’s web looks more and more like this philosopher vision. 

Nevertheless, I will continue to use the term web 2.0. It’s so convenient to use 5 signs to express a very complex reality. I guess some day, students in digital marketing may be forced to study chaos theory, nonlinear and dynamical systems to understand the web properly J


7 Responses to “Web 2.0? There’s no such thing!”

  1. Tom Raftery Says:

    Thanks for the link.

    Can I humbly make one suggestion for this blog? I suggest you put some relevant text into the About page. Tell people who you are, what you do and add a photo, if possible.

    People will trust you more if they know your name and can put a face on you.

  2. General Pattern Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. You’re right. I’ll do that.

  3. Please... draw me the chaos « Bad idea, indeed Says:

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  5. annonymous coward Says:

    Whilst the term is quite confusing and lacks a good definition, the way how the web is used these days has changed. also, the way how websites are built is different. web 2.0 is not a technology…rather it is a concept that describes how we use the web…and what we expect from using the web.

    For example, I used to use google for searching only…but now, I use google’s home page to get news from various sources, see my calendar and if I have any appointments etc. without having to open many tabs etc.

    In summary, the term web 2.0 means interfacing various sources in a customizable format that meets end user’s needs and expectations….and gives end users the power to control those sources to meet their specific requirements.

  6. fargo kantrowitz Says:

    are you talking about the way that the internet forms according to the imagination of the form-er? and our imaginations are pretty wild, huh? new systems newly envisioned or maybe remembered from an ancient time now lost. as you can see i’m an aspiring creative writer so sometimes try to poeticize myself into some sort of understanding of highly complex matter. shy some digits when it comes to this topic overall. never dropped me on my head. they swear to me…

  7. learn how to draw people Says:

    It’s rare I come over a site which makes me want to see more. You use a good writing style and I shall continue and read more.

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