Social Enterprise

Web 2.0 means what, exactly?

From A List Apart comes this great take on Web 2.0:

"What, if anything, does 'Web 2.0” mean?' What is the good thing that the hype risks obscuring?

"Well, there are several good things, it seems to me.


small teams of sharp people—people who once, perhaps, worked for those

with dimmer visions—are now following their own muses and designing

smart web applications. Products like Flickr and Basecamp are fun and well-made and easy to use.


may not sound like much. But ours is a medium in which, more often than

not, big teams have slowly and expensively labored to produce overly

complex web applications whose usability was near nil on behalf of

clients with at best vague goals. The realization that small,

self-directed teams powered by Pareto’s Principle

can quickly create sleeker stuff that works better is not merely

bracing but dynamic. As 100 garage bands sprang from every Velvet

Underground record sold, so the realization that one small team can

make good prompts 100 others to try.

"The best and most

famous of these new web products (i.e. the two I just mentioned) foster

community and collaboration, offering new or improved modes of personal

and business interaction. By virtue of their virtues, they own their

categories, which is good for the creators, because they get paid.


is also good for our industry, because the prospect of wealth inspires

smart developers who once passively took orders to start thinking about

usability and design, and to try to solve problems in a niche they can

own. In so doing, some of them may create jobs and wealth. And even

where the payday is smaller, these developers can raise the design and

usability bar. This is good for everyone. If consumers can choose

better applications that cost less or are free, then the web works

better, and clients are more likely to request good (usable,

well-designed) work instead of the usual schlock."

First, props for the Velvet Underground reference. Second, we could

all do with a bit more small, streamlined teams and less bulky,

over-managed uber-projects in our organizations. In most cases it won't

happen because that would mean management would need to give more trust

and take less credit, but it's fun to dream sometimes.

Back to the salt mines.


Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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