'Web 2.0' puts us all on the auction block
SO, YOU'VE heard of "Web 2.0," right? You haven't? Ohmigosh! It's what all the cool kids are into these days. Everybody's doing it. You'll never attain your ideal weight, a date to prom, that dream home in Tuscany, or freedom from your irrational fear of caterpillars until you know Web 2.0 inside and out.
OK, don't panic. If someone asks, just nod and say "Of course -- Web 2.0 -- I'm totally there, totally." OK? OK.
But on the off chance you find yourself behind a podium with a laser pointer and an obligation to keep talking until dessert is served, here's a bit more of an explanation.
Web 2.0 is the latest term bouncing off walls at tech conferences to convince venture capitalists to sign on the dotted-line, just like "e-solutions," "e-commerce" and "e-open bar."
Once deep pockets buy into the buzzword du jour, it trickles down to their assistants, who spell-check it; their employees, who miss their children's recitals until they turn it into something profitable; and eventually to all of their ex-spouses, who insist on a cut of said profit based on prior legal arrangements.
You can bet Jane Fonda, Ivana Trump and David Gest know all about Web 2.0. Kevin Federline probably doesn't just yet, but it's most likely only a matter of weeks.
If you haven't figured it out already, I'm stalling. Is dessert here yet? No?
OK, basically, the old "Web 1.0" business model was about all of us using Web sites to buy or sell stuff, from our original Barbies on eBay to our common sense to spammers from Nigeria. Web 2.0, however, is about selling us, and everything we do on the Internet, to corporate interests.
Static Web pages, e-mail, newsgoups, Craigslist, Ask Jeeves, AOL, online banking, MapQuest and Flash games are Web 1.0.
Podcasts, MySpace, Flickr, Frappr! maps, Skype, digg, YouTube and SecondLife are Web. 2.0.
While the old Net assumed we were using the Web to optimize our real life, the new Net accepts that many of us have uploaded our very souls there, and we're getting comfy.
It was appointments and transactions. Now it's hanging out and hooking up.
Web 1.0 was a flea market -- Web 2.0 is a meat market.
Marketing-wise, the theory seems to be "Build it and They Will Come (as long as you leave the door wide open) and They Will Then Draw Advertisers." Thus, almost all Web 2.0 services are free for users in order to build traffic. Once a Web site like YouTube, a video uploading and sharing service, herds enough of us into the barn, it then sells advertising (as YouTube recently started to do) that comes in and brands us however it wants.
Oddly enough, some of the more popular YouTube video clips are forms of viral marketing themselves. Yesterday, while watching two guys turn dozens of 2-liter Diet Coke bottles into exploding fountains of carbonation by mixing them with Mentos candy, I also glanced a standard ad for Verizon on the far right. Wherever I clicked, someone was going to get paid. The only thing I knew for sure -- it wasn't going to be me.
Perhaps our cut of the action will arrive with "Web 3.0." But that could be a long wait.
In the meantime, tell them to bring out the dessert already.